Sam’s Club is a warehouse club that allows you to buy in bulk. Savers who are determined to preserve every cent will find a Sam’s Club membership to be a wise investment. However, what most don’t keep in mind is that their discounts come at a price. You must pay the membership fee of $45.00 per year.
This guide isn’t going to discuss whether the Sam’s Club membership is worth it in general. It’s going to discuss how you can get the most out of it through clever shopping habits.
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How Long Does It Take to Provide Value?
It’s impossible to say exactly gauge many trips you must make in order to earn the same amount in savings back that pay for the membership price. It really depends on how much you spend per trip.
Most experts agree you will need to shop at Sam’s Club anywhere from 5 to 10 times per year in order to make it worthwhile. Follow the tips below to get the most out of your membership.
1. Buy Discounted Gift Cards
You can save money right off the bat at Sam’s Club by buying discounted gift cards through gift card vendor sites like Cardpool. On these type of sites, you can buy gift cards at a price lower than their actual retail value.
When it comes to Sam’s Club, you can typically buy their gift cards for 3% off on Cardpool. Instead of using your credit card or cash to make your final purchase, simply hand the cashier your gift card or type in the code online.
We recommend setting up alerts for these gift cards on Cardpool since they go out quickly. Registration is completely free, and you even get a $5 bonus when you sign-up as a new member.
2. Use A Cash Back Portal And Save 7%
You can quickly get 7% off your total purchase price at Sam’s Club by using the Giving Assistant cash back portal. These shopping portals are websites that have partnered with thousands of retailers across the web.
When you click on one of their affiliate links to the store of your choosing and make a purchase, they earn a commission and give it back to you in the form of cash back.
Here’s a quick guide on how to complete this step:
- Sign-up for a Giving Assistant account by clicking this link here.
- Search for Sam’s Club in their search bar. You’ll notice that you can get 7% off. Click on the “Shop Now” button to be redirected to the Sam’s Club webpage.
- Shop like you normally would on their website. Giving Assistant will automatically keep track of your purchases.
- Wait up to 10 days to receive 7% in cash back off of your total purchase price. Keep in mind that there are certain exceptions such as gift cards.
- Giving Assistant automatically sends payments to your PayPal once a month when you reach a minimum balance of $5 or more.
We suggest to use shopping portals for any online purchase, saving you an average of 7% across the board. If you’re still confused about how these portals work, read our shopping portal guide. To view more portals you can read our top 10 portal list.
3. Scan Your Receipt
Now with receipt scanning apps you can earn cash back on your grocery purchases. Ibotta – one of the most popular receipt scanning apps out there – gives you anywhere between $.25 – $5 in cash back when you shop at Sam’s Club.
The great part is that you can earn cash back on more than just one offer. For example, currently you can get $3 in cash back on an 18-pack of Budweiser or Bud Light. Here’s a quick 5-step tutorial of how to use Ibotta.
- Register for a free Ibotta account by clicking this link here. You even get a $10 bonus after redeeming your first offer
- Find the offer on the Ibotta app and claim it. As long as it matches what’s on the receipt, you should get credited.
- Take a picture of the receipt. Just be sure to hold the receipt steady so that the image comes out blurry. If it comes out blurry, you may not get credited for your purchase.
- Earn anywhere from $.25 – $5 in cash back per offer. If you have more than one offer, you can cross the $5 threshold. Once your account reaches a minimum of $20 in cash back you can cash out to PayPal or for gift cards of your choosing.
If you’re interested in more receipt scanning apps, check out this top 10 list here.
4. The Early Bird Catches the Worm
For those of you willing to stay up late or get up extra early, visiting a supermarket late at night will give you access to heavily discounted fresh produce. However, with Sam’s Club it’s the opposite way around. You’ll notice that in the morning you’ll find meat discounts. Most of the meats are premium cuts from the previous day. Sam’s Club must get rid of them before they can no longer be considered fresh.
The reason why these are only available in the morning is because in the afternoon the new cuts of meat arrive and then previous day’s meat is disposed of. Try to get there before lunchtime so you can get these prime cuts. With meat being so expensive, you can really make the most of your membership.
5. Fill Up on Gas
One of the unknown benefits of having a Sam’s Club membership is that you can often fill up using their gas station. This benefit is for members only and can often harbor discounts of up to 10 cents per gallon when compared to other nearby prices.
The price of oil is having a huge impact on the cost of gas in the US today. Discounts like this can pay back your annual membership fee on its own. Many don’t realize the cheap gas prices that they offer.
6. Clearance Sales
Sam’s Club products are already discounted, but what about getting a discount on top of your discount? This is where Sam’s Club clearance sales come in. Existing members of Sam’s Club might be confused since they’ve never heard of these sales before. Unlike your usual grocery store, these are not heavily publicized or even mentioned at all.
For this, you’re going to have to go to the back of the warehouse to look for these clearance deals. You’ll find them on the most obscure items. Think getting 80% off a perfectly good piece of furniture, for example.
Clearance sales are impressive at Sam’s Club, but you must go out of your way to find them.
7. Split the Cost of Membership
This is a sneaky tip, but it’s perfectly valid and there’s no way of telling what you’re doing. Splitting the cost of your Sam’s Club membership is a great idea because it means you can shop all year-round, but you’ll earn your membership fee back that much faster. Team up with one or more friends to get a Sam’s Club membership. Save time by nominating a house member to shop for everyone.
That means for a few measly dollars you can get access to incredible discounts you’d never hope to find anywhere else. It’s a smart way of joining in the fun without having to pay for the whole cost of membership.
8. Bulk Buddies are Valuable Assets
What you may not know is that each member can bring up to two guests into the warehouse with them. They can do their usual shopping, but what you must keep in mind is that they can also serve as bulk buddies. A bulk buddy comes in handy when you want to buy something on sale but you have no use for a whole palette of toilet rolls.
Your bulk buddy will split the cost with you and you’ll have the opportunity to get even bigger bulk savings. The more bulk buddies you have, the more you save.
9. What’s the Number?
Not everything found in Sam’s Club is heavily discounted. The easiest way to find out whether something has been discounted is to look at the signs. The big sign you need to look at is the number at the end of a price.
If a product price ends in the number 1 you already know it was discounted. Seasonal items that don’t yet have this 1 at the end should be waited on. You’ll quickly know within a couple of weeks that the discount will be there. Knowing when to hold fire on buying something could save you money going forward.
10. Take Advantage of the Additional Services
Sam’s Club is much more about than being able to purchase 500 Ziploc bags for under $10. Sam’s Club offers one of the biggest ranges of member benefits in the business, including outweighing similar memberships from Walmart and Costco.
For example, you can find discounts on health screenings, business legal services, and home improvement. There are even less serious benefits like discounted movie tickets. Sam’s Club is constantly adding to the range of perks it offers, so it’s well worth checking out.
11. Be Willing to Buy Store Brand Products
One of the most interesting revelations from the retail industry is that store brands are just as good as name brands. Sam’s Club own brand products are cheaper than name brand counterparts and potentially come with bigger discounts attached. This idea that name brands are of a better quality is one that has been debunked many times.
Take advantage of this revelation by using your Sam’s Club membership to buy store brand items from Sam’s Club. Even things like store brand furniture are just as good as their name brand counterparts.
12. Start Buying Prescription Drugs for Serious Savings
Prescription drugs are usually bought from a pharmacy. Few Americans would imagine that they could join a warehouse club and purchase them from there. But now you can because Sam’s Club sells its own range of prescription drugs. You’ll find everything from pills to deal with headaches to pills that tackle stomach problems.
Some people have reported that a bottle of pills costing $100 from Walmart will cost about $40-$50. The same pills from Sam’s Club will cost you about $10-$15. That’s a huge difference and it’s indicative of the incredible savings that can be made on prescription drugs.
13. Making Returns Easy
Some shoppers might feel hesitant when buying from a warehouse. They worry that they won’t be able to return an item if it doesn’t satisfy them. People who shop with Sam’s Club for the first time are shocked to find how generous their returns policies are. You can return your item for any reason for a full refund with no questions asked, which is something you’re unlikely to get in your usual grocery store.
The only exception at Sam’s Club is on electronics. After 90 days, they will no longer allow you to return electronics. On the plus side, 90 days is long enough for anyone to decide on whether they want to continue using an item or not.
One area where you get value for money is on fresh produce. If you return a fresh produce item Sam’s Club will give you double your money back. It’s a guarantee of their business strength, and you’re unlikely to find it anywhere else.
14. The Value on Tires
One of the biggest reasons why you should consider signing up to Sam’s Club is what you get when it comes to tires. A flat tire may not sound like much, but the cost of replacing tires can add up to hundreds of dollars every time. This is even worse if you happen to own a bigger, more expensive vehicle.
Sam’s Club also sells tires at discounted prices, but that’s not all. You can ask them to balance and rotate your tires whenever you like completely free of charge. They also offer free repairs on flat tires for the whole usable life of that tire. For the first three years you get a roadside tire change service, which is also free.
15. Try It Out With A Guest Pass
You don’t have to sign up for the Sam’s Club membership before you can enter the store. As mentioned above, you can enter on a guest pass and still purchase items. You can only use this a limited number of times, so there’s no avoiding getting a membership card if you want to keep coming back.
Use the guest pass to find out whether the experience is right for you. Not everyone is going to be able to maximize the potential savings made at Sam’s Club. For example, you might find that your shopping habits aren’t going to maximize the discounts available.
A guest pass will allow you to try it out and see if it’s right for you. If you don’t like it, you’ll have no obligation to pay.
16. Get a Discount Membership Card
Sam’s Club membership fees can seem quite high, especially when you consider how much money you’re likely to save per shopping trip. There’s no reason why you can’t find a discount on your Sam’s Club card. Sites like Groupon regularly have special offers on Sam’s Club membership cards. Getting 20% or more off can make this deal even sweeter.
17. Do the Math
Like with any membership card, you need to make sure the numbers check out. Don’t assume that you’re making huge amounts of money simply because you happen to have a membership card. You need to compare the numbers between what you would normally spend and what you’re spending at Sam’s Club.
Things can get complicated when you consider the additional benefits that come with Sam’s Club, including the health screenings and the low-cost tires. The only way you can do this is by balancing the benefits against how you live your life. Sam’s Club isn’t for everyone, but if you do everything right you can make some serious savings in the long-term.
18. Make Sure You Comparison Shop
Warehouse clubs in general will provide you with some great deals on some products, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to provide you with automatic deals. For example, you might have a deal on baby wipes at your usual grocery store that makes it more cost-effective to buy there instead of at a warehouse club.
Comparison shopping is an important part of getting the most out of your Sam’s Club membership. Never assume that something is automatically cheaper because you found it in your warehouse club. We also suggest taking a look at Amazon Warehouse for some great deals, especially if you have Amazon Prime to get free shipping.
There are many ways you can make the most out of your Sam’s Club membership card. First, consider the time you shop. Sometimes you can get immense discounts on meat and other high-ticket items just by changing the time you shop. You should have a clear idea of what you want to buy when you first enter the store so you don’t get tempted to make impulse buys.
You should maximize the number of guests you can bring so you have a couple of bulk buddies to make purchases with. And sharing the cost of a membership between your regular bulk buddies can make a huge difference to how much you spend.
If you have a Sam’s Club membership, let us know how it’s benefited you in the comments below. Thanks for reading and happy frugal shopping!