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Popular members-only warehouse Sam’s Club is known for selling everything from bulk rolls of toilet paper to jumbo packs of food items. If you’re a regular shopper there, you may want to have the Sam's Club® Mastercard® in your wallet.
This card offers higher cash back in the gas, dining and travel categories. But there are limits to the cash back you can earn, and, since your earnings can only be redeemed at Sam’s Club, you’ll have to make sure it’s worth the trouble of signing up for another credit card.
Where the Sam's Club® Mastercard® stands out in its category
Solid rewards. 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) The card offers higher rewards in three of the top four categories — gas, travel and dining.
Broad category definitions. Gas covers fuel purchased at Sam’s Club and Walmart stations, as well as other gas stations located in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. Limitations may apply. Restaurants include food at Sam’s Club, other restaurants, drinking places, fast-food places and caterers. Travel includes airlines, rental cars, hotels, passenger rail travel, bus lines, cruise lines, timeshares, travel agencies, travel sites and tour operators.
Where the Sam's Club® Mastercard® falls short in its category
Meager sign-up bonus. 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. It’s just enough to cover a Sam’s Club annual membership — and you have to spend it on the day you’re approved for the card. The card comes with a $0 annual fee, but you have to keep your membership with the warehouse club.
Cashback capped. You can only earn a maximum of $5,000 in cashback rewards in a calendar year.
Limited reward redemption. You get your cash back as a check in the February the year after you earn your rewards. That check can only be redeemed at Sam’s Club.
Cashback category limits. After hitting the spending limit for gas purchases, the rewards you earn in this category drop to the lowest level. The higher rewards for gas don’t cover purchases at other warehouse clubs and certain supercenters and supermarkets.
Low grocery cash back. For a card attached to a warehouse club that sells groceries, you only earn rewards in that popular category at the lowest level.
Not good for international travel. The card charges a None foreign transaction fee.
No perks. The Sam's Club® Mastercard® doesn’t come with any of the travel and purchase benefits that come with other credit cards in the cashback rewards space.
Compare it with the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card
If you want more points per $1 spent in the most popular card categories, along with more flexibility in how you redeem those points, then the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card is a good alternative to consider.
The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card has a welcome offer where cardmembers Earn 30K bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. That bonus, worth $300, can be redeemed at Wells Fargo’s Go Far™ Rewards program for travel, cash back, gift cards, online auctions, digital downloads, charity donations or sharing with friends and family.
You Earn 3X points for eating out and ordering in, 3X points for gas stations, rideshares and transit, and 3X points for travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals. Earn 1X points on other purchases. The gas points per $1 spent is lower than what’s offered by the Sam's Club® Mastercard®, but unlike that card, there aren’t any limits on the points you can earn on the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card — plus, your points don’t expire as long as your account remains open.
There’s a $0 annual fee. There is no foreign exchange fee, which is better than the None foreign transaction fee charged by the Sam's Club® Mastercard®.
Unlike the Sam's Club® Mastercard®, the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card comes with plenty of perks, including emergency medical, legal, personal and travel help, roadside assistance, rental car insurance, lost or damaged baggage insurance, travel accident insurance, retail protection when items are damaged or stolen, an extended warranty, return protection and cell phone protection for repair or replacement. Terms and certain restrictions apply.
|Sam's Club® Mastercard®||Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card|
|Regular Purchase APR||16.65% or 24.65% Variable||16.24%-27.24% (Variable)*|
|Rewards||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)||Earn 3X points for eating out and ordering in, 3X points for gas stations, rideshares and transit, and 3X points for travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals. Earn 1X points on other purchases.|
|Sign-up Bonus/Welcome Offer||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.||Earn 30K bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months|
|Foreign Transaction Fee||None||None|
The bottom line
The Sam's Club® Mastercard® was designed to appeal to its hard-core shopping base — people who love to buy bulk items and key provisions at discount prices. The card’s rewards favor the things that its members like.
But you can’t earn the higher points per $1 spent in the popular category of groceries with this card, despite the fact it’s a big draw for having a Sam’s Club membership. The card doesn’t come with a splashy sign-up bonus; instead, it only covers the cost of a yearly Sam’s Club membership. There’s a hard limit on both how much cash back you can earn per year and the higher points you earn when spending on gas. You can only redeem your cash back at Sam’s club and the card doesn’t come with any perks or benefits.
The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card gives cardmembers much more flexibility with its rewards, via its Go Far™ Rewards portal than the Sam's Club® Mastercard® — all with a $0 annual fee. It also comes with more travel and purchase benefits.
If flexible points redemption travel and protection perks are important to you, then the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card is a better bet. But if you just want a card that rewards you for regular shopping at Sam’s Club and you don’t care about anything else, then go with the Sam's Club® Mastercard®.