Sam’s Club 101 – How to Shop and Save Money at Sam’s Club

This is a simple guide to getting the biggest bang for your buck when shopping at Sam’s Club.

Read on to learn all about Sam’s Club membership, Instant Savings Book, Last Chance Buys and member credit card perks.

Become a Sam’s Club Member

Since Sam’s Club is a members-only warehouse, the first step to shopping and saving at Sam’s Club is to become a member. There is an annual membership fee, so before joining make sure that you will be shopping often enough so that the savings outweigh the fee. For most households, the savings always outweigh the cost of membership!

They offer two different levels of membership: Club and Plus.

Club Level Membership – $45/year

This is the baseline membership that most importantly gets you access to the low warehouse prices at Sam’s Club. Even without any of the other perks and savings tricks I’m going to talk about below, the prices in Sam’s Club are so low you can’t afford to not stock your house here.

But there are other perks to the Club level membership:

  • Instant Savings Book (more on that later)
  • Eligibility to apply for the Sam’s Club MasterCard (more on the perks of that later)
  • Savings on gas through the Sam’s Club members-only gas stations
  • Free flat tire repair, battery testing and windshield wiper blade installation
  • Up to 8 additional Club membership cards for your household at a discounted $40/year

Plus Level Membership – $100/year

This is the upgraded membership that gets you all of the perks of the Club level, plus:

  • Get $10 back for every $500 spent on qualifying purchases – up to $500/year (if you spend right, you could earn back your membership fee!)
  • Free shipping on most items online without a minimum purchase requirement
  • VIP early morning access at participating clubs to avoid the crowds
  • Free select prescriptions, plus exclusive Plus pricing on other prescriptions at $10 or less
  • Get 20% off a complete pair of eyeglasses and enjoy free shipping on contact lenses
  • Up to 16 additional Club level membership cards for your household at a discounted $40/year

Membership terms and prices are subject to change. You can view the latest policies on the Sam’s Club membership page here.

Instant Savings Book

The Instant Savings Book is an online resource that basically acts as a digital coupon book. It includes typical coupons like $2 off Colgate toothpaste, as well as larger-scale savings like $125 off a Serta Perfect Sleeper Luxury Mattress.

Check out the current Instant Savings Book offerings right here.

Depending on the item, you can elect to have it shipped directly to you or to pick it up at your local Sam’s Club warehouse.

Shipping costs also vary by item. Certain items in the Instant Savings Book include free shipping with no minimum purchase as part of the deal, while others fall under the regular shipping rates. Sam’s Club Plus Members receive free shipping on most items without a minimum purchase requirement.

Last Chance Buys (aka Almost Gone)

Sam’s Club Last Chance Buys, recently renamed Almost Gone, are deals that are marked down even further than the Instant Savings Book in some cases. These are the items that are left over from last season that the company wants cleared out of the warehouse ASAP to make room for the upcoming season’s merchandise.

When you search the Almost Gone page, you can filter by online vs. in-store deals if you know you don’t want to drive to the store. Items that appear in these deals range from small tools to backyard hot tubs!

Free Lunch

An unwritten perk of warehouse shopping is the free samples! These samples can seriously serve as lunch if you sample everything, and it’s completely free. Just waltz right into your local club and snack away. The best day to go for samples is Saturday starting around 11am, but they do serve some samples every day of the week.

Sam’s Club Credit Cards

Sam’s Club members are eligible to apply for the exclusive Sam’s Club credit card or Mastercard.

In my opinion, the credit card is not quite worth adding to your credit. The only real perk of the baseline credit card is $100 cash access at Sam’s Club and Walmart, so basically it’s like an ATM card. The MasterCard is where the real perks are, and both have no annual fee, so I don’t see a reason to waste your time on the baseline credit card.

Here are the perks of the Sam’s Club Mastercard:

  • 5% cash back on gas
  • 3% cash back on dining and travel
  • 1% cash back on other purchases
  • Zero foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee

Terms and conditions are subject to change. Always verify fees and perks before applying.

If you have any additional tips and tricks on shopping and saving at Sam’s Club, share them in the comments below!

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