The Sam's Club® Mastercard® is altering its rewards, and whether it's good or bad news will depend largely on your membership tier with the wholesale club.
The credit card, issued by Synchrony Bank, has ditched travel as a bonus category, and while its other big change could make up for that, not every cardholder is eligible to benefit from it:
For those with a Sam's Club "Plus" membership ($100 a year): The card is boosting your incentive for eligible Sam's Club shopping, up to a possible total of 5% cash back.
For those with only a baseline "Club" membership ($45 a year): You're getting a worse deal. Not only are you losing travel as a 3% bonus category, but you don't qualify for any bonus rewards on Sam's Club shopping either.
The card itself will maintain its $0 annual fee.
How the rewards structure is changing
The Sam's Club® Mastercard® is losing travel as a 3% bonus category but will still earn:
5% cash back on gas (on the first $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%).
3% back on dining.
1% back on other purchases (including travel).
Beyond that, rewards with the card now hinge on your membership tier with Sam's Club and how much shopping you do there:
Up to 5% back at Sam's Club:
1% cash back at Sam's Club, via the Sam's Club® Mastercard®.
The card still imposes a $5,000 cap on total cash-back rewards that can be earned in a calendar year.
What it means for existing cardholders
While Sam's Club Plus members, independent of the credit card, have long qualified for that 2% back on eligible purchases with the retailer, the Sam's Club® Mastercard® itself did not previously offer any bonus rewards on Sam's Club shopping beyond the 1% base rate — unusual for a co-branded store credit card.
So this could be welcome news for members at the Plus level, assuming travel wasn't a big part of their spending.
“We crunched the numbers and we looked at how many people were using the travel benefit,” says Tony Rogers, senior vice president and chief member officer at Sam’s Club. “Under this new arrangement, 98% of our members are better off because they spend more with us than they do on travel.”
But for baseline Club members, the news isn't good. The card will still earn only the base 1% rate on Sam's Club shopping, and there's no added value to replace the loss of travel as a bonus category.
(There is no membership-related shopping bonus at the Club membership tier, either.)
Nerd tip: Sam's Club Plus members will transition to a new card with updated art and Sam’s Club logo in spring 2021. Until then, they can continue to use their current card as normal. Account numbers will not change.
Recently, the Sam's Club® Mastercard® has also rolled out a number of digital enchancements — perhaps most notably in terms of rewards.
Instead of receiving a paper check, cardholders now get rewards automatically loaded onto membership cards to be used for future purchases online or at a Sam’s Club location, or for cash back. But rewards are still issued only once per year.