Sam's Club credit cards, issued by Synchrony Financial, come in two varieties. There's the Sam's Club Credit Card, which can only be used for purchases at Sam's Club and Walmart. Then there's the Sam's Club Mastercard, which can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted and comes with cash back rewards. Read our Sam's Club Credit Card review to see if either card is for you.
The perks you receive depend on which version of the card you get. The Sam's Club Mastercard has many more perks than the regular Sam's Club Credit Card.
New cardholders receive a one-time $55 statement credit. The catch is that you only get the statement credit after you make a purchase of $55 or more with your new Sam's Club Credit Card or Sam's Club Mastercard. Think of it more as a $55 store discount than an actual cash back bonus. Regardless, this is significantly lower than the average credit card sign-up bonus, even for cards with no annual fee.
It's nice that neither the Sam's Club Credit Card nor the Sam's Club Mastercard requires an annual fee to maintain the card. This is common among store credit cards, but is still worth mentioning. Unfortunately, though the cards themselves don't have annual fees, you need a Sam's membership, which can get costly. Memberships start at $45 a year, which, for the Sam's Club Credit Card, translates to a fairly high annual fee for a card with no perks or rewards.
Cardholders don't need to carry a Sam's Club membership card, as both the Sam's Club Credit Card and the Sam's Club Mastercard serve that function.
The regular Sam's Club Credit Card doesn't earn any rewards. The Sam's Club Mastercard, however, has some decent cash back rewards. For one thing, you'll earn 5% cash back on gas purchases, though this is capped at $6,000 of gas purchases per year, after which the rewards rate drops to 1%.
Cardholders also earn 3% cash back on dining and travel purchases, and 1% back on everything else. These categories aren't capped, but you can only earn up to $5,000 in total cash back per year.
As with most financial products, there are some negative attributes of the Sam's Club credit cards as well.
The interest rates can be rather high on both cards. The regular Sam's Club Credit Card has the typical high rate of a store card. The Mastercard version has an APR range that varies based on your credit, but the APR gets into the 20s if your credit score doesn't earn an interest rate from the low end of the range. These APRs aren't sky-high, per se, but are definitely high enough to warrant consideration.
Perhaps the most disappointing drawback is the low rewards rate on Sam's Club purchases. The Sam's Club Mastercard earns just 1% cash back on Sam's Club purchases, while the Sam's Club Credit Card earns no rewards at all. A primary reason to apply for any store credit card is getting store-specific perks, and the Sam's Club cards are seriously lacking in this area.
Plus, even with the Sam's Club Mastercard, the total amount of cash back you can earn in any given year is capped. Once you've earned $5,000 in rewards in one year, you stop earning rewards altogether.
While the Sam's Club Credit Card and Sam's Club Mastercard are both no-annual-fee credit cards, you still need a Sam's Club membership. This starts at $45 per year, which effectively negates most of the $55 introductory bonus right off the bat if you aren't already a Sam's Club member.
And, unless you cancel the card before your membership renews, you're charged that membership fee every year. Since both applying for and canceling a card can hurt your credit, avoid these cards if you don't plan on keeping your membership.
Ease of approval varies based on which card you're going after. The Sam's Club Credit Card is likely easier to obtain than the Mastercard versions due to its limited utility and lack of rewards. You still probably need at least fair/average credit to qualify. The Sam's Club Mastercard likely requires good credit or better to qualify.
If you want to earn rewards at Sam's Club: The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer earns a flat 2% cash back rate everywhere, on every purchase, with no cap on how much you can earn. This gives you at least twice the cash back at Sam's Clubs that you earn with the questionably named Sam's Club Credit Club Card and Sam's Club Mastercard.
If you want gas rewards: The Citi Premier® Card earns 3X points per dollar on gas purchases. Depending on how you redeem your rewards points, you could easily out-earn the Sam's Club Mastercard on gas purchases.
You can qualify for the Mastercard version and will make good use of the gas, dining, and travel rewards. If you're looking to maximize the rewards you can earn with Sam's Club purchases, however, give both cards a hard pass.
Unlike most store credit cards, the Sam's Club Credit Card and its Mastercard sibling aren't actually good cards to use at the issuing retailer. The Sam's Club Credit Card doesn't earn rewards at all, and the Sam's Club Mastercard only earns the base 1% rate at Sam's Club.
We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team. The Motley Fool has a Disclosure Policy. The Author and/or The Motley Fool may have an interest in companies mentioned.
The Ascent is a Motley Fool service that rates and reviews essential products for your everyday money matters.
Copyright © 2018 - 2021 The Ascent. All rights reserved.