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Costco vs. Sam’s: Which Card Is Better?
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Costco and Sam’s Club both allow consumers to reap substantial savings on groceries, toiletries, household items and more by buying in bulk. Each of these wholesale clubs also offers credit cards with competitive cashback rates — the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi and Sam's Club Mastercard — which can help offset your monthly Costco and Sam’s Club charges.
We review the key features of the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi and Sam's Club Mastercard, including their rewards programs, interest rates, benefits and more, to help you determine which card may be the best fit for your needs.
Comparing the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi and Sam's Club Mastercard
While the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi and the Sam's Club Mastercard share similar rewards structures, annual fees and interest rates, there are important differences that could make one card stand out over the other in each of those categories.
See how the cards stack up side by side:
|Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi vs. Sam's Club Mastercard|
|Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi||Sam's Club Mastercard|
|Annual fee||$0, membership required||$0, membership required|
|Sign-up bonus||None||5% back in Sam’s Cash on gas anywhere Mastercard is accepted (on first $6,000 per year, then 1%), 3% back in Sam’s Cash on Sam’s Club purchases for Plus members. Club members earn 1% cash back, 3% back in Sam’s Cash on dining and takeout, 1% back in Sam’s Cash on other purchases|
|Rewards rate||4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter, 3% on restaurants & travel, 2% at Costco & Costco.com, 1% on all other purchases||5% cash back on gas (on the first $6,000 per year, then 1%), 3% back on dining and travel, 1% back on other purchases|
|Regular purchase APR||17.49% (Variable)||17.24% or 25.15% Variable APR|
|Benefits||0% foreign transaction fees; damage & theft purchase protection; extended warranty; worldwide car rental insurance; travel & emergency assistance; roadside assistance dispatch service; $0 liability on unauthorized charges and Citi Entertainment||Foreign transaction fees: 3%; fraud liability; identity theft solutions|
Best annual fee: Sam's Club Mastercard
Both the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi and the Sam's Club Mastercard offer $0 annual fees; however, each card requires annual membership fees for their respective warehouse club.
Sam’s Club charges a slightly lower membership fee of $45 for a standard Club membership and $100 for a Plus membership. Costco, on the other hand, charges $60 for a Gold Star membership and $120 for a Gold Star Executive membership.
Best sign-up bonus: Sam's Club Mastercard
Unlike the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi — which doesn’t come with a sign-up bonus — the Sam's Club Mastercard offers a 5% back in Sam’s Cash on gas anywhere Mastercard is accepted (on first $6,000 per year, then 1%), 3% back in Sam’s Cash on Sam’s Club purchases for Plus members. Club members earn 1% cash back, 3% back in Sam’s Cash on dining and takeout, 1% back in Sam’s Cash on other purchases.
Best rewards rate: Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi wins this category — but just barely.
That’s because the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi offers an elevated rewards rate on Costco and Costco.com purchases, while the Sam's Club Mastercard only offers 1% cash back on Sam’s Club and Samsclub.com purchases. Additionally, the Sam's Club Mastercard limits the total amount of cash back you can earn in a calendar year to $5,000, while the Costco card offers unlimited cash back.
That said, if you spend a large amount on gas, you could earn a slightly higher amount of cash back each year with the Sam's Club Mastercard, due to the card’s higher rewards rate on gas purchases.
For example, if you max out the card’s $6,000 spend cap on gas, you could earn $300 cash back on those purchases in a year. This includes fuel purchased at Sam’s Club and Walmart fuel stations in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, as well as gas stations located in the U.S and Puerto Rico (excluding fuel stations that are part of warehouse clubs other than Sam’s Club and certain supercenters and supermarkets other than Walmart).
By contrast, if you max out the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi’s $7,000 spend cap, you can earn $280 cashback in a year on gas. This encompasses eligible gas purchased worldwide, including at Costco, but not gas purchased at superstores, supermarkets, convenience stores or warehouse clubs other than Costco.
Keep in mind, however, that with both cards, your cashback rewards can only be spent on those respective warehouse purchases in the U.S. and Puerto Rico (and with the Sam's Club Mastercard, at Sams.com). Plus, cashback rewards are only distributed once a year.
Best APR: That depends on which rate you qualify for
Unlike the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi, which offers a flat purchase APR of 17.49% (Variable), the Sam's Club Mastercard offers a purchase APR of 17.24% or 25.15% Variable APR, depending on your creditworthiness. Therefore, if you can qualify for the card’s lower rate, the Sam's Club Mastercard wins this category, but not by much.
However, you can avoid interest charges altogether by paying your credit card balance in full each month.
Best benefits: Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi offers more robust purchase and travel protections and benefits than the Sam's Club Mastercard.
In addition to extending the manufacturer’s warranty, the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi covers you for repairs or refunds if purchases made with your card are damaged or stolen within 120 days of purchase (90 days for New York residents).
The card also offers worldwide car rental insurance to protect against theft or damage, 24/7 assistance before or during a trip, roadside assistance dispatch services in the U.S., including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as well as $0 fraud liability against unauthorized charges.
Plus, cardholders receive special access to purchase tickets to thousands of events and experiences through Citi Entertainment.
Which credit card is best for me?
The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi and the Sam's Club Mastercard both offer good cashback rates on gas, dining and travel purchases. But when you’re determining which of these cards is the right fit for you, your preference for Costco or Sam’s Club will most likely play a much bigger role than the cards’ actual rewards rates, membership fees, interest rates or benefits.
That said, if you’re a regular warehouse shopper, the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi has the potential to allow you to earn more cash back as it offers a higher cashback rate for Costco purchases.
If you want to earn rewards on your warehouse club purchases — but would like more flexibility in how you can use those rewards — you may want to consider a cashback credit card with more redemption options, such as the Chase Freedom Unlimited®.
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® card offers the following rewards rate: Enjoy 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, our premier rewards program that lets you redeem rewards for cash back, travel, gift cards and more; 3% cash back on drugstore purchases and dining at restaurants, including takeout and eligible delivery service, and 1.5% on all other purchases The $0 annual fee card also offers the following sign-up bonus: Earn an extra 1.5% on everything you buy (on up to $20,000 spent in the first year) — worth up to $300 cash back. That’s 6.5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 4.5% on dining and drugstores, and 3% on all other purchases.
Chase Freedom Unlimited® rewards can be redeemed for a statement credit, direct deposit into a checking or savings account, cash, gift cards, travel or products and services throughout the year, with no minimum redemption amount required. You can also use your points to pay for all or part of purchases at participating Chase Pay merchants.
Whichever card you choose, just know that while Sam’s Club accepts American Express, Discover, Mastercard and Visa cards in-store and online, Costco only accepts Visa credit cards at its warehouse locations, and Visa, Mastercard and Discover cards at Costco.com. The Chase Freedom Unlimited® is co-branded with Visa, so it can be used at either warehouse club.