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Costco vs. Sam’s: Which Card is Better?

Costco vs. Sam’s: Which Card is Better?

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This article was last updated Dec 19, 2018, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.

Warehouse clubs such as Costco and Sam’s Club are great ways for consumers to reap substantial savings by buying in bulk. Whether shopping for your family or business, a warehouse club can provide discounts on everything from everyday essentials, such as groceries and cleaning supplies, to electronics.

Like most major retailers, both Costco and Sam’s Club offer a credit card that can be used in-store, or anywhere else if co-branded with Visa or Mastercard. While the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi and the Sam's Club® Mastercard® have no annual fee, club membership is required. However, basic membership costs are $60 or less and is often outweighed by the savings you receive by shopping at those warehouse clubs.

Depending on where you live and which warehouse club is closest to your home most likely will play into the decision of which warehouse club card to apply for, but if you are lucky enough to have a choice between the two, it can help to weigh the pros and cons of each card offering.

Let’s take a look at some of the features these credit cards offer cardholders so you can decide which card is the best choice for your needs.

Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi vs. Sam's Club® Mastercard®

  Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi Sam's Club® Mastercard®
Annual membership fee for the warehouse club $60 for Gold Star or Business levels (your employer may offer membership at a discounted rate)

$120 for Gold Star Executive or Business Executive levels

$45 for basic membership

$60 for Sam’s Plus

Annual fee $0* $0
Regular purchase APR 17.49%* (Variable) 16.65% or 24.65% Variable
Rewards 4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter, 3% on restaurants & travel, 2% at Costco & Costco.com, 1% on all other purchases 5% cash back on gas (on first $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%), 3% on dining and travel, and 1% on other purchases (maximum of $5,000 in cash back rewards in a calendar year)
New cardmember offer None Save $45 when you open a Sam’s Club consumer credit card account online and make a $45 purchase at SamsClub.com on the account the same day. Offer expires 1/15/2019.
Foreign transaction fee None 0%

The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi and the Sam's Club® Mastercard® are similar credit cards that both provide the same 3% cash back on travel and dining purchases and no foreign transaction fee. However, they differ in required annual club membership fees and gas and in-club cashback rates.

If you’re looking for a low-cost warehouse club membership fee, Sam’s Club’s basic membership is $15 cheaper than Costco. Considering the rewards programs, the Sam's Club® Mastercard® is better for gas spending while the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi earns more on in-club spending. For a warehouse club card, it’s ironic the Sam's Club® Mastercard® doesn’t provide more than 1% cash back on purchases made at its club.

Rewards redemptions

For both the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi and the Sam's Club® Mastercard®, rewards are distributed once a year. Here’s how you can redeem them:

  • Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi: Receive a rewards certificate after your February billing statement closes. The certificate is redeemable for cash or merchandise at U.S. Costco Warehouses through December 31 of the year issued in a single transaction at any Costco warehouse in the U.S. or Puerto Rico.
  • Sam's Club® Mastercard®: Receive your cash back as a check in February, the year after you earn your rewards. The check can only be redeemed at Sam’s Club warehouses located in the U.S. or Puerto Rico. “Checks will expire as listed on the front of the cash back check.”

Both warehouse clubs exclude cardholders from redeeming rewards online, so you must go to a physical Costco or Sam’s Club store to redeem your rewards.

The bottom line: Which card should you choose?

The credit card you choose most likely won’t be based off of the rewards program or membership fees. It will be influenced more on the location of the nearest Costco and Sam’s Club in addition to which store you prefer to do your shopping.

Costco has over 750 locations, which is more than Sam’s Club’s 590 locations. If you don’t have a Sam’s Club nearby, the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi is the better choice. Even if you have a Sam’s Club nearby, the Sam's Club® Mastercard® won’t earn you a competitive cashback rate on Sam’s Club spending, and you’d be better off with one of the alternative flat-rate credit cards we mention below that offer more than 1% cashback.

If you have both warehouse clubs nearby, you can choose the card from the store you like better or use a card with a higher cashback rate. In general, warehouse clubs offer similar items, but one store may have more brands and a wider selection than the other. To decide which club has the items you need, visit Sam’s Club and Costco to compare their selection. Both stores offer a free one-day pass where you can shop and check out their stock before becoming a member. If you have a family or friend with a Costco or Sam’s Club membership, you can also go to the club with them.

Read our reviews of the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi and the Sam's Club® Mastercard®.

Alternative credit cards for wholesale shopping

  • Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay

  • 0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers*

  • 16.74% - 26.74%* (Variable)

Highlights
  • Earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back
  • 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 16.74% - 26.74% based on your creditworthiness*
  • No categories to track, no caps on cash back, no annual fee*

See additional details for Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

More Info

The Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is a great flat-rate credit card that can earn you a competitive rate on everyday spending, including shopping at Costco and Sam’s Club. Cardholders earn 2% cash back on purchases: 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay. This is similar to the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi’s 2% cash back at Costco and Costco.com and better than the Sam's Club® Mastercard®’s 1% cash back at Sam’s Club and Samsclub.com. A unique benefit of the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer is Citi® Price Rewind. Register eligible items online within 60 days of purchase date and Citi will conduct a search for a lower price. If a lower price is found, you may receive the difference between the price you paid and the lower price.

  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase - it's automatic!

  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

  • No minimum to redeem for cash back

Highlights
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 17.24-25.99%. Balance transfer fee is 3% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase - it's automatic
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey?
  • No annual fee

See additional details for Chase Freedom Unlimited®

More Info

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is a better option than the Sam's Club® Mastercard® for Sam’s Club spending since you earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. Compared to the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi, the Chase Freedom Unlimited® won’t earn you 2% cash back at Costco and Costco.com, but it will earn you more cash back on everyday spending.

  • Earn up to $150 back

  • Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on your purchases

  • Reward Dollars can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise

Highlights
  • Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on your purchases.
  • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 15.24% to 26.24%.
  • $0 plan fees for plans set up during your first 15 months of Card Membership with Plan It®, a feature that lets you split up big purchases into monthly payments with a fixed fee.
  • Over 1.5 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017.
  • No Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for American Express Cash Magnet® Card

More Info

The American Express Cash Magnet® Card offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on your purchases. This is a good everyday cashback rate that is more than both the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi and the Sam's Club® Mastercard®’s 1% cashback on everyday purchases. In addition, you’ll earn more cash back on Sam’s Club purchases compared to the Sam's Club® Mastercard®, but less cash back compared to the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi’s 2% cash back at Costco and Costco.com.


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