Sam’s Club Membership Review – Is a Sam’s Club Membership Worth It?

Buying a wholesale membership feels like buying into an exclusive country club. While it doesn’t come with fancy drinks and a pool, a Sam’s Club Membership has its perks especially if you have a large family.

No matter your family size, though, there are pros and cons to buying a Sam’s Club Membership. You need to use certain items (a lot) and use its other perks to make it worth it. Buying in bulk isn’t for everyone, even large families.

I dive into the details of a Sam’s Club membership, both good and bad below to help you decide.

Sam’s Club Membership Overview

A Sam’s Club membership buys you plenty of benefits. Sure, you can buy boxes of 50 individual bags of chips and 90 packages of fruit snacks at great prices, but bulk groceries and household goods aside, a Sam’s membership includes:

  • Access to Sam’s Club gas stations which charge an average of $0.10 less per gallon (varies by location)
  • Access to Sam’s Club Tire and Battery Center for tire savings, but also lifetime balance, rotation, and flat tire repair and emergency roadside repair for 3 years
  • Complimentary membership – Add one household member to your membership for no charge
  • Cashback credit card – If you sign up for the Sam’s Club Mastercard, you’ll earn 5% cashback on gas, 3% on dining out and travel, and 1% on everything else

Everything above is for the standard membership. 

Sam’s’ Club also offers a Plus membership to the tune of $100. That’s not pocket change, but for some it’s worth it. 

In addition to the above, Plus members get:

  • Cashback rewards – You don’t need the Sam’s Club Mastercard, you automatically earn 2% back on every Sam’s Club purchase up to $500/year. You must spend $5,000 per year to earn your membership cost back, but if you shop exclusively at Sam’s for groceries and household items, that’s not hard to do over a 12-month period.
  • Free online shipping – There’s no minimum requirement, spend $10 or $100 and you’ll get free shipping.
  • Special shopping hours – Sam’s Club opens a few hours early for Plus members only, which in today’s environment is helpful especially if you’re high-risk (COVID-19).
  • More pharmacy savings – Plus members have access to 5 RX drugs for free, up to 600 different drugs for $10 or less and larger savings on other prescriptions.
  • More optical savings – Plus members get free shipping on contact lenses and an extra 20% off lenses and frames.

Are the Prices Worth It?

Here’s where you need to think. Is it worth paying $45 a year if you won’t use the gas, tire, and prescription savings?

Honestly, you could find comparable prices at non-membership stores, but you won’t find bulk products. So ask yourself:

  • Is buying in bulk a good idea for my family? If you have a large family AND they eat everything you buy, it’s probably worth it. If you price snacks and household goods per item or per ounce, there’s usually a decent savings. But if you have a household who eats one or two of something and lets the rest go bad, it’s probably not worth it.
  • Do you live near a Sam’s Club? The gas savings alone can be worth it IF you live near a Sam’s Club and drive a lot. The average person uses 650 gallons of gas a year. If you save $0.10 a gallon, that’s $65 a year savings – you more than pay for your membership. But, if you only drive occasionally and don’t live near a Sam’s Club, it’s not worth it.
  • Will you use the tire benefits? The tire benefits are great if you use them. If you lease your cars or trade cars in often, the tire benefits may not be of use to you. Plus, if your insurance or any other membership provides roadside assistance, the Sam’s Club roadside assistance isn’t a perk for you.

Now let’s look at the Plus membership. 

You’ll pay an additional $55 per year for it. Most people only benefit if they use the pharmacy regularly and their prescription is one Sam’s Club offers lower prices on and/or they use the optical savings. An additional 20% savings on lenses and frames could make you the $55 back quickly, not to mention the free shipping on contact lenses (if you wear daily contacts).

How Does Sam’s Club Membership Compare to Costco?

I’m sure you’re debating Costco vs Sam’s Club in your head right now – it’s the largest rival throughout the country. Not all areas have both, but if you do, you probably wonder, which is better?

I’ll start with the obvious. They have a lot of similarities. Bulk products, store-brand savings, and aisles upon aisles of temptations. But what’s different?

  • Sam’s Club costs less. A Gold Star Membership (basic) at Costco costs $60 and its Executive Membership costs $120. 
  • Costco has a larger selection of organic products.
  • Costco doesn’t offer its Executive Members exclusive shopping hours.
  • Many prices are similar (if not identical), but about 25% of similar products are 10% (or more) cheaper at Costco
  • Both Sam’s and Costco pay 2% cash back on their upper tier membership
  • Costco offers many more member-only services at prices lower than you’d pay outside of Costco including bottled water delivery, check orders, insurance products, identity protection, mortgage services, and a car buying service.

So who should choose Sam’s Club over Costco?

Here’s my thoughts.

If you don’t buy a lot of organic products or don’t follow gluten-free lifestyle, Sam’s may be perfect. You’ll save money on your membership and get similar (or the same) bulk products. 

If you regularly eat organic or have family members on special diets, you’ll find Costco has a better selection.

Food aside, think about the services. Costco offers A LOT of extra services. If you won’t use them, the higher-priced membership isn’t worth it. You’ll find everything you need at Sam’s Club.

Sam’s Club Membership FAQs

Does Sam’s Club Membership offer a trial period?

Sam’s Club doesn’t have a trial period, but they have a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee. If at any time you are unhappy with your membership, you may visit Guest Services and cancel it for a full refund.

If you don’t want to fork out the $45, you can get a ‘guest membership’ online and shop online only for 24 hours. You’ll pay a 10% price increase, but you can see if a membership may be worth it.

So you can get around the ‘no trial period’ your own way.

Is Sam’s Club better than Walmart?

Sam’s Club and Walmart are sister companies, but the similarities end there. Sure, they sell many of the same products, but if you price them out per unit, Walmart almost always comes out more expensive. It may seem cheaper because you aren’t buying in bulk, so I encourage you to look at the unit price and see how you’re getting ripped off.

How does Sam’s Club compare to BJ’s Wholesale Club?

BJ’s is another popular warehouse club, but has fewer locations. You’ll find them mostly on the east coast and in Ohio and Michigan. BJ’s falls in between Sam’s and Costco as far as membership fees. Other than fees, BJ’s services and benefits are similar to Sam’s and Costco. It comes down to which warehouse is most convenient for you?

Can you shop online without a membership?

Yes, anyone can shop online. You’ll pay an extra 10%, but if you won’t take advantage of Sam’s Club’s other perks, it may be the better option. If you spend less than $450 a year at Sam’s Club online, you come out ahead shopping online and skipping the membership fee.

Can you share your Sam’s Club card?

No, COVID-19 changed these rules. Today, a Sam’s Club membership is only valid for the person holding the card. You can add one household member onto your account for free. If you add anyone else (18 years or older) it’s an additional $40 per member.

Does Sam’s Club have membership deals?

Periodically, Sam’s Club runs promotional deals that make membership cheaper. You’ll still shell out the $45, but you’ll earn it back in savings. Their latest deal was for customers who downloaded the Scan and Go app. If they used it within the first 30 days, they received $45 off – that’s a free membership. Watch out for other Sam’s Club membership deals as they pop up often. 

Does Sam’s Club deliver?

Sam’s Club does deliver, but you’ll pay higher prices. Your membership doesn’t help you here because they use a third party to deliver the goods. You’ll pay the third party higher prices (they need to make money) and can use it without a membership. 

Is it Worth It?

Bottom line – is Sam’s Club worth it?


If you’ll use ALL the services including gas, prescription savings, tire services, and optical, absolutely it’s worth it. You’ll enjoy savings on your favorite products and save money on must-have services.

If you don’t live near a Sam’s Club and/or won’t use most or all of the included services, you’re probably better off skipping it. If there’s something you MUST have, shop Sam’s Club online, and pay the 10% premium. As long as you spend less than $450, you come out ahead. 

If you’re lucky enough to find a Sam’s Club membership deal, then go for it. If you’ll save money on your membership and your products, it’s a no-brainer. That’s also a great time to try the membership out and see if paying full price moving forward is right for you.

Kim Pinnelli is a personal finance freelance writer and contributor. She lives in the Chicago suburbs, writing from home for the last 13 years. Kim enjoys helping people understand personal finances and writes on topics about saving money, investing, planning for retirement, and ways to increase income. In her free time, Kim enjoys hanging out with her 3 children, reading, crocheting, and spending time outdoors.

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