Sam’s Club and Costco are the two biggest wholesale clubs (also known as warehouse clubs) in America, and it so happens that each one offers a consumer credit card.
The Sam’sÂ Club Mastercard and theÂ Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi have a lot in common. The two cards have similar APRs, a similar annual fee structure (both cards technically lack an annual fee, but you must be a member of the wholesale club to get the card, and each wholesale club has an annual fee), and similar cash back rewards. However, as you’ll see, there are a few key differences.
Let’s see who comes out on top in a battle between Sam’s Club and Costco for wholesaler credit card supremacy.
|Samâs Club Mastercard||Citi Costco Anywhere Visa|
$0 but Samâs Club membership is required and starts at $45/year
$0 but Costco membership is required and starts at $60/year
17.15% – 25.15%, Variable
Get $45 as a statement credit when you make a $45+ purchase the same day you get your card
|Purchase Intro APR||
|Balance Transfer Intro APR||
|Foreign Transaction Fee||
The Sam’sÂ Club Mastercard requires good to excellent credit (a credit score of 690+) while the Citi Costco Anywhere Visa requires excellent credit (a credit score of 720+).
Fees & Interest Rates
Sadly, neither card features an introductory 0% APR period, so be aware that you’ll be on the hook for interest charges immediately if you start carrying a balance from month to month.
As for the purchase APR, the Sam’s Club Mastercard offers a variable APR of eitherÂ 17.15% or 25.15%, depending on your credit. By contrast, the Costco Anywhere Visa sports a variable APR of 17.49% for all cardholders. With great credit, you can qualify for a lower APR with the Sam’sÂ Club card, but on the other hand, Costco won’t try to hit you with a 20+% APR no matter what your credit.
Technically, neither card has an annual fee. However, you have to be a member of each wholesale club in order to get either card, and each club has an annual fee. Sam’s Club memberships cost $45 (baseline membership) or $100 (premium membership) while Costco membership costs $60 (baseline) or $120 (premium). Sam’s Club has a slight edge here.
Neither card has a foreign transaction fee.
The Sam’sÂ Club Mastercard currently has a modest bonus offer: $45 as a statement credit when you make a $45+ purchase on the same day you receive your card (offer ends June 15, 2019).
The Costco Anywhere Visa has no bonus offer.
Winner: Sam’s Club!
Earning & Redeeming Rewards
Sam’s Club and Costco have remarkably similar cash back programs. The Sam’sÂ Club Mastercard offers the following rewards:
- 5% cash back on your first $6,000 in gas purchases per year (1% cash back thereafter)
- 3% cash back on dining and travel purchases
- 1% cash back on everything else
- You can earn a maximum of $5,000 cash back per year
- Cash back can be redeemed only once a year in the form of a check that can only be cashed at a Sam’s Club outlet
As for the Citi Costco Anywhere card:
- 4% cash back on gas at eligible gas stations worldwide (including Costco), max $7,000 per year
- 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel purchases
- 2% cash back on purchases from Costco and Costco.com
- 1% cash back on all other purchases
- No cap on the amount of cash back you can earn per year
- Rewards are redeemable only once a year as a check that can only be cashed at a Costco
First, the similarities: Both cards offer 3% cash back on dining and travel purchases, both cards offer 1% cash back on all non-bonus categories, and both cards have the same inconvenient and cumbersome redemption system in which you can only redeem your cash back once per year and only inside a physical Sam’s Club/Costco store. Let’s now look at the three main differences.
The first difference: The Sam’s Club card offers 5% cash back on gas while the Costco card only offers 4% on gas. This is somewhat mitigated by the fact that your first $7K in gas spending per year gets you the high cash back rate with the Costco card, whereas with the Sam’s Club Mastercard, the first $6K in annual gas spending gets you 5% cash back. Doing the math reveals that you can earn a maximum of $300 in cash back on gas with the Sam’s Club card before your gas cash back rate reverts to 1%. With the Costco card, that number is $280 — just a $20 difference. Slight edge to Sam’s Club here.
The second difference: Costco’s Anywhere Visa gives you an elevated 2% earning rate (not great, but better than 1%) on spending at Costco and costco.com. By contrast, the Sam’s Club card does not reward your Sam’s Club spending with extra cash back. Your Sam’s Club purchases (in-store and online) will earn you just 1% cash back, the standard rate. The Citi Costco card wins this point.
The final difference, and the most significant one for the consumer or entrepreneur who spends a lot on the bonus categories in question here, is that Costco does not cap the amount of cash back you can earn per year. The Sam’s Club Mastercard does cap your annual cash back rewards — at $5,000 per year. As the Costco card wins this point, the Costco card wins this category by a hair, but if your card spending goes mainly towards gas, the Sam’s Club Mastercard might be better for you.
Benefits & Other Perks
Let’s look at what you’ll get in terms of extraneous benefits from the two cards in question. The Sam’s Club Mastercard will get you:
- Identity theft resolution services
- Price protection
- Extended warranty
The Citi Costco Anywhere Visa comes with more benefits:
- Travel & emergency assistance
- Zero-liability fraud protection
- Citi price rewind
- Purchase protection
- Extended warranty
- Worldwide travel accident insurance
- Trip cancellation & interruption protection
- Worldwide car rental insurance
The Citi Costco card clearly has the edge here.
Which Is Best For Your Business?
Choose Samâs Club Mastercard Ifâ¦
- Sam’s Club is your favorite (or most conveniently located) wholesale club
- You plan to use your card predominantly on gas purchases
- You’re looking for a bonus offer from your card
- Your credit score is between 690 and 720
Sam’s Club Mastercard
17.15% – 25.15%, Variable
Choose Citi Costco Anywhere Visa Ifâ¦
- Costco is your favorite (or most conveniently located) wholesale club
- You spend a lot on the bonus categories and don’t want your annual cash back capped
- You want your card to earn you extra cash back when you shop at your wholesaler
The Sam’s Club Mastercard and the Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi are so similar that if you’re deciding between these two cards, it’s probably going to come down to whether you prefer Sam’s Club or Costco. All else being equal, however, I’m inclined to give the Citi Costco card a narrow victory. That’s because the Costco Anywhere Visa a) doesn’t cap your annual cash back and b) offers 2% cash back when shopping at Costco (in-store and online). The Sam’s Club Mastercard caps your annual cash back and only offers 1% cash back at Sam’s Club, thus losing this battle.
However, the inconvenient and inflexible reward redemption programs of both cards mean that most consumers will be better served getting an “ordinary” cash back credit card offeringÂ better cash back redemption and other features these cards lack, such as an introductory 0% APR and a generous bonus offer.
Thinking about using a personal credit card to fund your business? Check out our helpful guide to using personal credit cards for business.
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