Good evening everyone, I just got back from Sam’s Club and have some interesting things to share. If you not aware, there is currently an AMEX Offer for SamsClub.com where you can get a $20 statement credit after spending $20 or more online. The offer is pretty good, you basically get 100% cash back if you purchase exactly $20. Completing the online offer is a bit more challenging.
Last night, I shared the link to Groupon where you could purchase a 1 year membership to Sam’s Club for $45 and receive a $20 Sam’s Club gift card and fresh merchandise when you shop in-store. I ventured into my local Sam’s Club this evening to see what it was like.
My first thought when entering Sam’s Club is that it is almost identical to Costco. The aisles are lined up the same way and the merchandise is organized accordingly.
To get my Sam’s Club membership card, I went to the Member Services counter right near the store entrance. There, a very nice lady helped me complete my membership and take my photo for my Sam’s Club card.
On the Point of Sale (POS) screen, you can see the $20 Sam’s Club gift card being activated. The screen and credit card pin pad look identical to the ones used in Walmart stores.
On the left, is the $20 Sam’s Club gift card. On the right, is the Sam’s Club membership card (my lovely photo is on the other side).
With the Groupon offer, I received 3 coupons: free rotisserie chicken, free Italian Rose fresh salsa, and free gourmet cupcakes. I went on a hunt around the store and found 2 of the 3 items, but not the gourmet cupcakes. I asked around and was told that the cupcakes were sold out. Bummer, I guess I will have to come back later.
To redeem my $20 Sam’s Club gift card, I went to the frozen fruit section and got a big bag of mixed berries and an even bigger bag of other mixed fruit. These are perfect for my Nutribullet blender. According to my math, the 2 bags of fruit totaled $21.70. My plan was to use the $20 Sam’s Club gift card and then pay the rest with my credit card. My plan would have worked perfectly accept my Sam’s Club (maybe nationwide) only accepts MasterCard credit cards, all debit cards, and cash. Unfortunately for me, I only had my Chase Freedom (VISA) and Old AMEX Blue Cash. After waiting a few minutes, the cashier was able to void the transaction, reload the gift card, and process both coupons for the chicken and salsa. It was such a hassle and I felt bad for the 2 people behind me. Word of warning, if you ever see me in line with only a few items, be prepare to wait since something always goes wrong.
Anyway, after buying the large bag of frozen fruit, I went to my car to drop off my groceries. Luckily, I found $2 in my car and went back inside to purchase my smaller bag of frozen berries. I went back to the same cashier and this time the transaction was a breeze. I used the rest of my Sam’s Club gift card and paid the remaining $1.70 in cash.
Back at home, I ate half of the chicken and it was quite delicious. I will make a delicious, fruity smoothie soon. Moral of the story, if you plan on shopping at Sam’s Club, bring a MasterCard, a debit card, or some cash. As for the AMEX Offer, I will get to that in the morning.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. Have a great evening everyone.
Haha c’mon Grant, you can’t even carry $2 cash on you? -Vinh
I hate cash. You don’t earn any points using cash!
Agreed, I don’t carry cash either ;)
I only have cash when I travel so I can tip maids and hotel shuttle drivers.
Respectfully disagree about Sam’s being similar to Costco. The quality of products at Sam’s (perishables) is no where near Costco. I had their chicken and threw it away because it was nasty.
Sam’s is a bulk version of Wal-Mart with frowny-faced employees. I always say it’s a poor man’s Costco.
Of course the amex deal is awesome. Yes, a free membership can’t be beat (after having to value subpar food). I would never shop at Sam’s unless it’s free (like now). I rarely go because I really dislike the comparative experience that much.
Everyone will have their opinions on the Sam’s experience so I respect the fact you enjoy it. I am curious, are you a current Costco member?
My parents are Costco members and I have been many times. This was my first experience at Sam’s Club so my comparison does not mean much. The layout of the store looked the same, but I can’t compare food quality, variety, or prices after just one visit. Every time I go to Costco, it is always so busy.
Agree with Grant here. I sorta hate Costco just because they are also so very busy. We have one Sams in Seattle; I haven’t been there, but I have a feeling it may be as busy as Costco, at which point, I’ll just use my AMEX offers and never actually shop in store.
There are times when Costco is super busy and other times when it is almost empty. I always end up going during the really busy times.
The best time to go is during the week, in morning and throughout the early afternoon. If you can’t go at that time, then plan your trip right before they close. I know what you mean about it being busy at times, but that’s because they’re just that popular, and for good reason.
I like going right before it closes if you know exactly what you want to buy.
I have a free Sam’s Club membership from my dad’s company, but I’ve never used it because that sam’s club you went to is basically impossible to get to without a car – and it’s the only one in the area.
It was hard to get to even with a car. Concord is not very accessible without a car.
When you purchase Sam’s club membership from Groupon, Do you have to activate it in store only or it could be done online?
I believe you have to activate your membership in store as they take your picture and give you your gift card and coupons in-store.
Military affiliation gets this deal already:
Thanks for the link, Steve.
I thought they took discover card as well
Not that I know of. The cashier didn’t mention Discover at all. Either way, I didn’t bring my Discover credit card with me.
Sam’s used to take Discover, but changed their affiliation (as Costco will do next year – going from Amex to Visa). I prefer MC because I can use my Citi Double Cash at Sam’s now.
Yes, there are many good Cit MasterCard options that will work at Sam’s Club. Online, samsclub.com takes all credit cards.
Love the post grant. You saved me for when I’m gonna need to bring a MC to sams. Hopefully the samsclub credits post!! I am planning on doing my samsclub GC spend (once they arrive) and sign up all in one same trip…..
The eGift Cards arrive in around 20 minutes. The Amex email hasn’t posted yet.
One of the things you may have missed when you were in the store: Sam’s branded credit card gets you 5% cash back on gas (anywhere, not just Sam’s or Wal-Mart gas), and 3% cash back on dining and travel. And these rewards are unlimited. The only downside is that they only cut the rewards check once a year, in February (so you have to wait a while to get your rewards). I got the Sam’s membership on a similar Groupon (or Living Social) deal back in November, and was shocked when I saw they had this card.
Yeah I remember seeing the sign for the credit card hanging next to the Member Services area. Bummer you only get the rewards once a year.