Sam’s Club is a direct competitor of Costco and BJ’s Wholesale. The three require memberships simply to get inside the store.
But is it possible to shop at Sam’s Club without a membership? Or can you not even enter the store without the ID card present? This is what we found out…
Can I Shop At Sam’s Club Without A Membership?
You need some form of paid membership to be able to access Sam’s Club warehouse chain and associated services. However, there are exceptions to this requirement, which apply to a small number of the services and to the membership class you choose.
This article takes a look at Sam’s Club memberships: what they are, what they cost, how to avoid them, and what’s in it for you if you do purchase one.
How Can I Shop At Sam’s Club Without A Membership?
Sam’s Club provide a number of services which anyone can use regardless of membership. The perks available for members will not apply to non-member customers. These Sam’s Club services include:
- Optical Center – savings only apply to Plus members
- Pharmacy – savings only apply to Plus members
- Photo – Sam’s Club photo centre is now wholly online
- The liquor store – open to everyone, but an ID is required
- Food courts/cafes – open to everyone
- A small number of gas stations – the discount for members is not extended for non-members
How Much Is Sam’s Club Membership?
Sam’s Club offer two levels of membership, both with associated rewards and discounts, but there’s further membership options available within the purchase of either of these. You’ll be able to compare membership tables by following the link.
- Club Membership – this is the basic table and costs $45 per year. It gives you access to all Sam’s Club retail, both online and instore. You don’t get free shipping, but you can use curbside pickup, and you have access to Instant Savings, Mastercard, fuel savings and tyre and battery services.
- Plus membership – costs $100 per year. You get free shipping, curbside pickup, access to Sam’s Cash, instant savings, pharmacy and optical savings, fuel savings, tire & battery services, and Mastercard.
You may have noticed the options (available to both classes of membership) to add a complimentary membership or to add an add-on membership. You don’t have to take advantage of these options, but they’re worth considering because they allow further (family) members to join Sam’s Club for a reduced cost.
- Complimentary membership – when you sign up for either membership, you get to share a free membership with someone in your household.
- Add-on membership – when you sign up for either membership you can save on extra Club memberships for a discounted annual price of $40.
You’ll notice when you’re signing up, that complimentary memberships are limited to one, and that the person being awarded the membership must be 18 years or older.
When you’re adding on memberships, you’ll notice you can add up to 16 memberships (they must all be paid for during the one transaction), and the cost is $40 (yearly) per membership.
Members always have the option of cancelling at any time.
Can You Get Free Sam’s Club Membership?
There’s really no such thing as a free Sam’s Club membership – however, from time to time, Sam’s Club offer membership deals with a $45 cash back reward on a first purchase.
This means that a Club membership (which is $45 per year) is effectively paid for after the first purchase is made.
You can also take advantage of a family member’s membership (if you live in the same household as them). Simply get them to add you as complimentary member.
Sam’s Club used to offer a guest membership (whereby all purchases were loaded with a 10% service fee / surcharge per order. This type of membership lasted for 24 hours. However, although it’s not clearly stated on the Sam’s Club website, there is one statement alluding to this service as no longer available.
Do You Need A Membership For Sam’s Club Gas?
You do need a paid and current membership to purchase Sam’s club gas. You’ll need to produce a membership card (or use the app if you’re paying with Scan & Go).
However, there are a small number of gas stations open to non-member customers. Sam’s club state that:
These locations are either co-located with a Walmart Store or are required by law to be open for public use. At these stations we offer a .05¢ discount for Members and Walmart+ users with the exception of New Jersey which does not allow the discounting of fuel for membership.
The best way to identify a non-member Sam’s Club fuel station is to use the Club Locator and contact the station directly.
Sam’s Club is a membership only retail warehouse chain, and you can choose from two levels of membership.
You also have the option of adding complimentary and/or add-on memberships for considerably less than the full club member fees.
Always look for Sam’s Club membership offers and take advantage of them before they expire.
If you don’t want to join up, that’s fine; you can still shop at Sam’s Club pharmacy, optical, liquor, photo, and food court outlets.