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Is Sam’s Club Worth the Membership Fee? (Pros & Cons)

Sam’s Club is known for bulk shopping and major savings on groceries, electronics, gas, and other home essentials.

Unfortunately, you can’t walk into the store and access these perks for free; you need to pay an annual membership fee.

So, is a Sam’s Club membership worth it?

If you have a large household, plenty of storage, and live near a store, it may be worth the fee. Otherwise, you’re better off shopping at stores that don’t require a paid membership.

In this review, I dive deeper into this topic, breaking down the pros and cons of Sam’s Club. Keep reading to learn if the benefits of Sam’s Club outweigh the cost.

Use the links below to navigate the review:

Membership Costs

Sam’s Club offers two membership types: Club and Plus. Club memberships cost $50 per year. The Plus tier costs $110 annually. While both provide benefits, the Plus membership offers additional perks.

Sams Club membership benefits and fees
Sam’s Club membership benefits and fees

Club Membership

At $50, Club is the basic Sam’s membership. It costs less than half the price of Plus, but it still offers many benefits. You’ll have access to bonus deals, instant savings, discounted fuel, and a complimentary membership for one other household member.

If you sign up for the Sam’s Club Mastercard, you can earn 1% cash back on purchases and 3% on dining. Annually, you can get 5% cash back on the first $6,000 of gas purchases (1% after that).

You’ll also benefit from free tire repair — even if you buy tires elsewhere. Sam’s Club provides free battery testing and windshield wiper blade installation for its members.

Plus Membership

At $110, the Plus membership comes with added benefits like:

  • Early shopping hours
  • Earning Sam’s Cash in-club or via curbside pickup
  • Free shipping
  • 20% more bonus offers
  • Free curbside pickup (Club members pay $4 every time)
  • Pharmacy savings
  • Optical center savings

Plus members with a Sam’s Club Mastercard earn 3% cash back on purchases (Club members get 1%). Without signing up for the Mastercard, Plus members still get 2% cash back on eligible purchases (up to $500 per year).

If you plan to spend over $3,000 per year at Sam’s Club, the 2% cash back you get with a Plus membership will make up for the extra $60 in fees.

Club and Plus memberships allow one free membership for someone in your home. If you wish to add more memberships, they cost $45 a year per person for Club or Plus.

All members can use the convenient Scan & Go app. It allows you to scan while you shop so you can pay on your phone and skip the checkout line.

Here’s a quick comparison of Sam’s Club membership fees versus its competitors. As shown in the table below, Sam’s Club fees are slightly lower than Costco and BJ’s.

Wholesale ClubAnnual Membership Cost*Key Benefit
Sam’s Club$50 / $110Store access / 2% cash back
BJ’s Wholesale Club$55 / $110Store access / 2% cash back
Costco$60 / $120Store access / 2% reward
*The two prices represent the two membership tiers offered by each wholesale club

Sam’s Club Membership Pros

From low prices to convenient shopping options online and in-store, there’s a lot to like about Sam’s Club. These are the main perks of a membership.

Low Prices

Sam’s Club offers wholesale prices on name-brand products online and in-store for members. It also carries a store brand, Member’s Mark, with lower prices.

Food products are grouped in bulk sizes. For example, in a grocery store, you might see a 64-ounce bottle of juice. At Sam’s Club, that same juice might come in a double pack of 86-ounce bottles.

Sam’s also offers instant savings deals on top brands. The savings are displayed on the shelves, and you don’t need to clip a coupon to get them.

If you shop strategically, you can recoup your annual membership fee in just a few visits.

So how does Sam’s Club offer such low prices?

Like Costco and BJ’s, Sam’s Club operates a limited-item business model. In other words, they only stock one or two brands per category. Those brands are willing to sell their products to Sam’s Club at a significant discount because they know there will be no competition on the shelves.

If you walk down the condiment aisle at a grocery store, you’ll find a dozen different ketchup brands; at Sam’s Club, there’s only one.

In addition, Sam’s Club has nearly 600 stores, so they can use their enormous buying power to negotiate great deals and pass those savings to you. 

Additionally, the membership business model helps Sam’s Club run more efficiently. The company collects data every time you swipe your membership card at the registry, and they use that data better to manage their supply chain and negotiations with partners.

Lastly, you can’t enter Sam’s Club without showing your membership card or leave without an employee checking your receipt. These protocols result in minimal theft, leading to lower costs. 

Online Shopping

Sam’s Club offers online shopping if you want to skip the store. Many grocery items are available for curbside pickup or delivery to your home, so you can still get great deals and avoid crowds. You get free shipping and curbside pickup if you have a Plus membership.

Same-Day Delivery

Is there a Sam’s Club within 15 miles of your home or business? If so, you can get same-day delivery as a member. Check with your local club for availability.

Unlike many grocery stores and delivery services that mark up prices, you get the same prices displayed in your local club (even instant savings deals) with Sam’s Club’s same-day delivery.

There are no minimum orders, making this a convenient choice if you need a few items to finish a recipe.

Flat-rate delivery fees are $12 for Club and $8 for Plus members. Pricing is subject to change.

Curbside Pickup

If you don’t like standing in line or loading up your vehicle, Sam’s Club will do that for you.

Shop for items online or through the Sam’s Club app and choose your pickup time window. When your order is ready, you’ll receive a text message. Check in when you arrive, and an associate will put your order in your vehicle.

Curbside pickup is free for Plus members. Club members pay a $4 flat fee each time they use the service. But, again, there is no markup on the actual items.

Scan & Go

Download the free Scan & Go app, and you can scan items while you shop, pay, and skip the checkout line.

Private Label Brand

For extra savings, Sam’s Club offers a private label: Member’s Mark. In general, these items are the best value.

You can choose from a variety of products, including:

  • Grocery items
  • Wine (in select stores)
  • Home goods
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Furniture
  • Technology items
  • Office supplies
  • Outdoor grills and firepits
  • Clothing
  • Health and personal care items
  • Pet food and supplies

Sam’s Club keeps adding items to its brand to give you more options.

Accepts All Major Credit Cards

At Sam’s Club, you can use any major credit card and multiple accepted forms of payment to pay for your purchase (including Walmart gift cards). This is more convenient than Costco, which only accepts Visa in-store and at the pump.

Sam’s Club Mastercard

The Sam’s Club Mastercard offers 1% cash back on purchases and 3% on dining. You also get 5% cash back on gas in the first year of membership.

Combined with a Plus membership, you’ll get 3% back on purchases when you use the Sam’s Club Mastercard and 2% back in Sam’s Cash (used in-store, same as cash), no matter what payment method you use.

Savings on Gas

Sam’s Club offers two types of gas stations: members-only and public.

At members-only gas stations, fuel savings range from 5 to 25 cents per gallon. You can use the store locator to see current fuel prices in your area.

At public stations co-located with Walmart stores, you can save $.05 per gallon if you are a Sam’s Club member or Walmart+ user.

To maximize savings, get the Sam’s Club Mastercard. With any membership, you get 5% cash back at the pump (1% after buying $6,000 of gas in a calendar year).

Savings on Specialty Services

Sam’s Club also offers discounts on tires, prescriptions, and other services.

Here are some options for members:

  • Auto – You can buy tires, vehicle batteries, and other small parts like windshield wipers. Sam’s Club also rents vehicles and sells automobiles and recreational vehicles like motorcycles, ATVs, and boats. 
  • Health – Get your hearing and vision checked at a discount and buy hearing aids or glasses for less. Sam’s Club also features telehealth through a partnership with MeMD. Plus tier members get the lowest prices on prescription medication, but all members have access to the pharmacy.
  • Travel/Entertainment – Planning a trip? Sam’s Club provides discounts for hotel stays and rental cars. And when you want to enjoy a day or night out, check their offers on theme parks, concerts, plays, Broadway (and off-Broadway) shows, and other popular events.
  • Photos – Print your favorite photos or use them to make gifts and home decor.
  • Home improvement – Sam’s Club offers discounts on home warranties, security, pest control, streaming, water delivery, and smart energy solutions.
  • Business – If your business needs a point-of-sale solution (in-person and online), Sam’s Club partners with Clover to provide payment processing for merchants. You can also take advantage of custom-printed checks and other business promotional projects.
  • Protection/Installation – You can get an affordable protection plan for your electronic appliances and other significant purchases. Sam’s Club also provides installation help for a discounted fee.

Savings on Tech Products

If you’re shopping online for electronics, like TVs, laptops, and speakers, you’ll have access to limited-time Tech Savings deals.

Generous Return Policy

One of the greatest perks of membership is the easy and hassle-free return policy. You can return most items at any time with a receipt. But there are some limitations depending on the item. For example, you must return electronics and major appliances within 90 days of purchase.

View the full return policy before making a purchase. Refunds are issued in cash, store credit, or credited to the original payment method.

All Members Can Earn Sam’s Cash

Previously only Plus members could earn Sam’s Cash when they shopped in the club or used curbside pickup. Now, all (Club and Plus) members can earn Sam’s Cash outside the club with a program called Sam’s Cash Bonus Offers.

When you purchase or dine out at participating retailers and restaurants, you can earn Sam’s Cash to spend at Sam’s Club. Just link an eligible card, find the offers you want, activate them, and start earning. You can even use Sam’s Cash to pay your annual membership fee.

Sam’s Club Membership Cons

Even though there are plenty of reasons to get a Sam’s Club membership, there are some downsides to consider.

Annual Fee

You will have to pay the membership fee every year if you want to keep shopping at Sam’s Club. Although the savings you get shopping at Sam’s can make up for the fee fairly quickly, it’s only worth it if you plan to shop at a club regularly. 

Location Dependent

Sam’s has about 600 locations in the United States, but that doesn’t mean there is one near you. If you live far away, you’re less likely to go. So, check to see if one is close with the Sam’s Club location finder before becoming a member.

Bulk Purchasing

Most food, cleaning, and paper products are only available in bulk sizes. If you have limited storage space, that can be a problem. Also, if you have a small household or live alone, you might not need to buy in bulk.

In terms of food, be conscious of expiration dates. You’ll also want to keep an eye on how often you use the products you buy. It’s common to increase consumption just to avoid waste.

Infrequent Sales

Since Sam’s Club is a discount warehouse, you won’t see regular sale events. On-sale items at grocery stores are often cheaper than standard prices at Sam’s Club. 

No Couponing

Similarly, Sam’s Club doesn’t accept manufacturer’s coupons. In some cases, you might get a better deal for a specific item at a grocery store, where you can also use coupons and cash-back apps.

Limited Brand Variety

If you’re looking for a specific brand or food item, grocery stores and big box stores have a wider selection than Sam’s Club.

Because of bulk sizing and its private label brands, you don’t get the same level of brand variety. So, if you prefer a specific brand, verify that Sam’s Club regularly carries it before purchasing a membership.

Not Ideal for Perishables

Unless you have a large family, food business, or consume high amounts of fresh produce, buying fruit and vegetables in bulk can be wasteful.

When shopping at Sam’s Club, stick to purchasing freezable or non-perishable items to avoid waste.

Cashback is Sam’s Cash

All cashback earned from the Sam’s Mastercard is in the form of Sam’s Cash. So, you can only spend it at Sam’s Club.

How to Get the Most Out of Sam’s Club

A Sam’s Club membership comes with numerous perks, but you need to shop smart to maximize the savings and benefits. Here are ten tips to help you get the most out of your membership.

Apply for the Sam’s Club Mastercard

Using the cashback program often, especially for gas and store purchases, will eventually cover your membership fee. You’ll also earn Sam’s Cash for in-store and curbside pickup purchases with a Plus membership. Remember, you can use Sam’s Cash to pay for your membership.

Link Your Card

Link your eligible credit card or debit card to the Sam’s Cash Bonus Offers program and earn Sam’s Cash to use in the store. 

Purchase Gas

Use the Sam’s Club Mastercard to earn 5% cashback (in Sam’s Cash) on gas anywhere Mastercard is accepted.

If fueling up at Sam’s, you’ll save more money per gallon when you use a members-only fuel center. You can save $0.05 a gallon when you go to a public Sam’s Club fuel center with a Sam’s Club membership or Walmart+ account.

Take Advantage of the Specialty Products

When you need to fill a prescription or get new tires, check Sam’s Club pricing first to get the most out of your membership. Review the club’s specialty services to get the most out of your membership.

Shop at Sam’s Club Frequently

The more you shop at Sam’s Club, the more value you get. Even if you shop less frequently but make large purchases, you’ll still save money.

Check SamsClub.com for Deals Before You Go

Before you shop, check the current deals. You can also sign up for text alerts to be the first to know about sales, new items, and upcoming deals.

Shop Online

If you prefer shopping online, you can buy from the Sam’s Club app or website. Depending on the items, you can pick them up or have them shipped or delivered.

Bring a List

Prepare a list before shopping to avoid unnecessary purchases. It will help you stick to your budget.

Stick to Items With a Long Shelf Life

Only buy perishable items in bulk if you know you can consume them quickly. To reduce waste, choose non-perishable goods that have a long expiration date. For perishables, consider buying them in smaller quantities from other stores.

Price Compare Before You Shop

Carefully compare the prices of potential purchases with other stores in your area. Sometimes you’ll find lower prices for the same product by checking sales or using coupons at other stores.

Avoid the Weekends

Like most warehouse clubs, Sam’s Club can get crowded on the weekends. Weekday mornings are the best time to shop.

Bottom Line: Is a Sam’s Club Membership Worth It?

Now that you know the pros and cons, it’s time to decide if a Sam’s Club membership is worth the fee.

If you live with two or more people, are within 20 minutes of a store, and plan to shop and buy gas frequently, then the membership is more than worth the annual fee.

If you spend approximately $2000 a year or more at Sam’s Club, you’ll save enough to justify the membership fee. However, you can recoup it much faster if you sign up for their credit card or take advantage of major deals throughout the year.

The Sam’s Club Plus membership costs $60 more than the Club tier, but if you spend more than $3,000 annually, the 2% cash-back perk will make up for that cost.

If you live alone, have limited storage, and don’t live within 20 minutes of a store, a Sam’s Club membership is not worth the fee.

Learn more about Sam’s Club or apply for a membership on SamsClub.com.

Andrew Palermo Founder of Prudent Reviews

Andrew Palermo - About the Author

Andrew is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Prudent Reviews. He began his career in marketing, managing campaigns for dozens of Fortune 500 brands. In 2018, Andrew founded Prudent Reviews and has since reviewed 600+ products. When he’s not testing the latest cookware, kitchen knives, and appliances, he’s spending time with his family, cooking, and doing house projects. Connect with Andrew via emailLinkedIn, or the Prudent Reviews YouTube channel.

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