Which Sam's Club Membership Is Best for You? Here Are the Perks of Each Tier
While every shopper has their own unique grocery needs, there's no denying that scoring a membership at a warehouse club like Sam's Club comes with some tantalizing benefits.
Sam's Club—along with major rivals like Costco and BJ's Wholesale Club—differs from a traditional grocery store because its business model is built around offering bulk groceries. While customers do need to pay an annual fee in order to shop at Sam's Club, the retailer still offers a valuable proposition to customers with convenient perks and the promise that they'll save money in the long run. For example, Sam's Club is able to offer discount prices on its bulk goods by only stocking a limited number of products and buying them in large quantities.
But, deciding that you want to get a Sam's Club membership is only the first step in joining the ranks of this popular chain's shoppers. The retailer has two membership tiers: a cheaper Club membership and a more expensive Plus membership. So, you'll also have to carefully select which Sam's Club membership option is the best fit for your shopping needs, taking the unique perks and drawbacks of each option into account.
Here's what's included in each membership tier so you can decide which option is right for you.
At the annual price of $50, the Club membership is the cheaper of the two Sam's Club shopper tiers. The benefits of a Club membership are a little scaled back in comparison to the more expensive tier. However, this may still be the more attractive option for more casual shoppers who don't need all the bells and whistles of a Plus membership. As Sam's Club notes on its website, the basic membership "still has a lot to offer" for people who want savings on bulk groceries but don't need the extra services and savings.
For starters, all Sam's Club shoppers automatically get access to members-only low prices. Sam's Club also offers additional discounts to members every now and then through its Instant Savings program. Instant Savings are promotional discounts for certain items that are assigned to members and electronically loaded to their membership cards. So if a customer purchases an item that currently has an Instant Savings offer, that discount will automatically be applied at checkout.
The savings don't stop at Sam's Club's grocery items. All members who don't use insurance or a government healthcare program (like Medicare) can get discounts on generic prescription drugs and even some name-brand medications through its Rx Savings network.
Convenience is another key perk of the basic Sam's Club membership. If you prefer to avoid waiting in the checkout area whenever possible, for example, all Sam's Club members can use a Scan & Go service that allows them skip the lines entirely by scanning and paying for their products through the retailer's app. Sam's Club also offers curbside pickup so shoppers don't even have to step foot outside their cars to get their groceries, though there is a $4 fee to take advantage of this service.
Finally, the Club membership comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. This means that if you decide to become a Sam's Club member and later decide that it's not for you, Sam's Club will cancel your membership and refund your fees for the current year. So if you've hesitated to spring for a Sam's Club membership over concerns that you won't end up liking it, that satisfaction guarantee will allow you to give it a try risk free.
Costing shoppers $110 annually, the Plus membership is more than double the price of the Club membership. But because the Plus membership offers all the benefits of a Club membership and more, some shoppers might find it worth it to shell out for the higher tier. Sam's Club touts the more expensive tier as providing "the best, highest value available."
One key perk of the Plus membership is free shipping. To be clear, Club shoppers may be eligible for free shipping on a limited number of items, all of which are marked accordingly. But in most cases, Club shoppers will have to pay shipping costs. Meanwhile, Plus shoppers have access to free shipping on most items with no minimum purchase. So if you plan to heavily use Sam's Club online shopping and shipping services, you may want to consider opting for the Plus membership to make it more cost-effective.
When it comes to curbside pickup, Plus members have access to two extra perks that their Club counterparts don't have. The service is completely free of charge for the higher tier, and the hours in which they can use it are extended. The service begins at 7 a.m. Monday to Saturday and at 10 a.m. on Sundays for Plus members, while it begins at 10 a.m. on all days of the week for Club members.
Curbside pickup isn't the only Sam's Club service where Plus members have access to extended hours. Plus members can also take advantage of an exclusive early shopping period on all days of the week except for Sunday, which could be an attractive proposition for shoppers who despise crowded grocery aisles. Club members can start shopping at 10 a.m. on all days of the week, but Plus members can start shopping at 8 a.m. Monday through Friday and at 9 a.m. on Saturdays.
As previously mentioned, all Sam's Club members can get discounts on generic and some name brand prescription drugs through its Rx Savings network. However, Plus members have access to extra discounts for both pharmacy and optical items. For example, Sam's Club offers Plus members 10 select generic prescriptions for $0 and 30-day supplies of more than 600 generic drugs for $10 or less.
Last but not least, Plus members earn 2% back on qualifying Sam's Club purchases. These earnings come in the form of Sam's Cash, which customers can then spend in clubs, online, or on their annual membership fees. In other words, it pays to shop at Sam's Club as a Plus member.