Frequently, Costco, Sam's Club, and BJ's shoppers often learn the hard way that wholesale clubs rarely count for grocery-store bonuses. Those who shop heavily at wholesale clubs should prefer a card that specifically includes wholesale-club spending as a bonus category, or one that offers a high cash-back rate on all spending.

Here are three non-store credit cards fit for use at popular wholesale clubs.

Credit Card

Standard Rewards Rates

New Cardholder Bonus

BankAmericard Cash Rewards™

3% on gas, 2% on groceries and wholesale clubs (capped at $2,500 in combined spending each quarter), 1% on everything else

$150

Citi® Double Cash

1% on purchases, plus 1% when balances are paid off

None

Chase Freedom UnlimitedSM

1.5% cash back

$150

Source: Card issuers.

The card for big ongoing rewards

The BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ card is a great all-around rewards card, but it really pulls its weight when it comes to bonus categories. This no-annual-fee card offers capped 3% cash back on gas, 2% on groceries and wholesale clubs, and unlimited 1% on all other spending.

Bank of America customers can do even better than the base-rate rewards. Cardholders enjoy a 10% bonus just for redeeming their cash back into an active Bank of America® checking or savings account. Those who have preferred banking status can get up to 75% in bonus rewards, bringing the all-in, effective cash-back rate up to 5.25% on gas, 3.5% on groceries and wholesale clubs, and 1.75% on all other spending at the top of the scale.

Note that bonus-reward categories are subject to a quarterly cap. Only the first $2,500 of combined quarterly spending on gas, groceries, and wholesale clubs qualifies for juiced rewards. After meeting $2,500 in quarterly spending, rewards drop to the standard rate of 1% on purchases. That said, the quarterly caps are more than generous enough to allow most families to earn bonus rewards on all of their gas and wholesale-club spending.

New cardholders can get off to a quick start with this card, thanks to a $150 online cash-rewards bonus for qualifying cardholders who make at least $500 in purchases in the first 90 days. As an added bonus, the card carries a 0% intro annual percentage rate (APR) on purchases in the first 12 months, as well as a 0% intro APR on any balance transfers in the first 60 days of account opening. Rewards can be redeemed starting at just $25. (Read our full review of BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ for more information.)

Woman picking up a pepper from a grocery aisle.

Image source: Getty Images.

The steady 2% payer

The Citi® Double Cash card is a perennial Fool.com favorite because it offers a high cash-back rate that incentivizes responsible credit card use. The card offers 2% cash back that accrues at a rate of 1% on every purchase, plus 1% when balances are paid off, thus encouraging cardholders to pay down their balances to receive the best possible rewards.

This card is best fit for people with particularly heavy spending habits, as it doesn't offer an upfront new cardholder bonus like the other cards on this list. However, those who spend heavily will rack up cash-back rewards quickly without having to worry about whether or not their spending will qualify for a bonus category.

Citi® Double Cash also serves as a solid balance-transfer card, offering 0% intro APRs on balance transfers for 18 billing cycles when transfers are made within the first four months of account opening. Rewards have a minimum redemption amount of $25, which can be reached with just $1,250 of spending volume when balances are paid in full.

As the only Mastercard-branded card on this list, it isn't a good choice for a Costco credit card, given that Costco only accepts Visa cards. (Read our full review of Citi® Double Cash for more information.)

The no-minimum rewards card

The case for carrying the Chase Freedom UnlimitedSM card is simple: It offers an unlimited 1.5% cash-back rewards program on all spending, with no minimum redemption requirements. For this reason, it's a best fit for cardholders with lighter spending habits, given that rewards won't be "trapped" until cardholders meet a minimum redemption threshold.

Though it doesn't have the highest rewards rate of the cards on this list, the upfront new cardholder bonus of $150 for qualifying cardholders makes it competitive with Citi's card. Qualifying cardholders receive a $150 bonus after spending $500 in the first 90 days after approval. When this bonus is taken into consideration, the Chase Freedom UnlimitedSM card offers a higher all-in rewards rate than the Citi® Double Cash on the first $30,000 of spending. 

A 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers make this card more attractive for those who carry a balance, or who want to get out from underneath costly credit card debt. Bear in mind that balance transfers carry a hefty fee of $5 or 5% of amounts transferred, higher than is typical for 0% intro APR cards. (Read our full review of Chase Freedom UnlimitedSM for more information.)

Best bang for your buck

There's no real limit to how many credit cards you can have, but cardholders would be wise to prioritize cards that offer the best all-in rates across all of their spending. We like the BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ for its high rewards rates on wholesale club spending and the opportunity to earn bonuses for redeeming rewards into an active Bank of America® checking or savings account.

Those who don't have an active Bank of America® checking or savings account may have a preference for simple cashback programs offered by the Chase Freedom UnlimitedSM  and Citi® Double Cash card. Lighter spenders should enjoy the Chase card's no-minimum redemption option, whereas heavier spenders may be better suited to Citi's offering, which pays a higher base-rewards rate at the cost of higher minimum-redemption requirements. 

Ultimately, the best card is one that threads the needle with a rewards program, minimum redemption requirements, and intro APRs that best fit your current credit needs. But all three cards above deserve a place in the conversation of the best wholesale-club credit cards.

Jordan Wathen has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Costco Wholesale, Mastercard, and Visa. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.