The end of the year is often when we take stock of our finances and start making plans for the year to come. If you’re looking at ways to save on everyday expenses, those plans might involve joining a warehouse store like Sam’s Club.
While Sam’s Club can certainly be a good financial choice for some families, it’s not the right move for everyone. But how to tell whether a Sam’s Club membership should be part of your 2024 plans? You need to do the math.
The only way to know whether a Sam’s Club membership is a good value is to look at the real numbers. In other words, evaluate the cost, your spending, and the potential for savings. Then let the math decide.
Sam’s Club has two membership levels. The basic Club membership gets you in the door. The Plus membership offers everything a Club membership does, as well as extra perks like free shipping and curbside pickup. A Plus membership is more than twice as much as a regular Club membership.
You pay your membership annually. But for the sake of the math, we’ll also look at what that would work out to monthly:
Sam’s Club’s online experience is excellent. You can not only see what’s in stock, but you can see real prices on most of it without needing to have a membership. This makes it super easy to do a little comparison shopping.
(Some online items will be even cheaper in the store than online, but you won’t see the ridiculous online markups that some other warehouse stores add — looking at you, Costco.)
To get an idea of what you might save, grab your most recent receipt from whichever store you’d like to compare — and pop onto samsclub.com. Then, compare what you paid on your regular purchases to what you’d pay at Sam’s Club. Add up any savings to see your total.
For a Sam’s Club membership to make sense, you need to save more than $4.17 a month ($9.17 a month for Plus members) by shopping at Sam’s Club versus other stores. If your total savings comes out to be higher than that, you may benefit from joining.
Another thing to keep in mind when crunching your numbers is the Sam’s Cash earnings opportunities. For one thing, all members can take advantage of Sam’s Cash Bonus Offers, which provide Sam’s Cash rebates on non-Sam’s Club purchases.
Then there’s the Sam’s Cash you can earn as a Plus member. Specifically, Plus members earn 2% back in Sam’s Cash on most Sam’s Club purchases. Here’s what that looks like in real numbers:
While you may not pay for your entire Plus membership with 2% back unless you’re a really big spender, it may be enough to make upgrading from a Club membership worthwhile.
When all is said and done, the only foolproof way to see if a Sam’s Club membership is going to save you money is to try it. Get a membership and use it for a year. At the end of 2024, you can compare what you spent on groceries and household goods compared to 2023.
While there will be some items that go up in price either way — inflation never sleeps — you should be able to get a fair estimate of whether you came out ahead with a membership. (Just don’t forget to subtract the membership fee from any year-over-year savings.)
If you do decide to get a membership and realize it’s not for you, don’t worry; you can actually get a refund on your membership. Here’s what Sam’s Club says:
“We offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on your membership or your money back. If at any time you’re unsatisfied with your membership, let us know and we will cancel your membership and provide a refund of the amount paid for your current year membership fee. There’s a limit of one Plus membership refund per member or business per year.”
You can cancel your Sam’s Club membership at any time and get a refund. There are two methods depending on whether you have a store nearby (and feel like going there).
If you have a local Sam’s Club and don’t mind stopping in, you can cancel and get an immediate refund simply by requesting it at the Membership Desk.
If you don’t want to head to the store, you can cancel and request a refund over the phone by calling: 1(888)746-7726
Keep in mind that if you cancel over the phone, your refund will be issued in the form of a Sam’s Club eGift Card. You don’t need to spend it at Sam’s Club, however, as the gift cards also work at Walmart and walmart.com.
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We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers.
The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.Brittney Myers has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Costco Wholesale and Walmart. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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