Sam's Club, which opened in 1983, is a top destination for the budget-conscious consumer, and it has seen dramatic success as a result. For the fiscal year 2022, the big-box retailer raked in a total revenue of $73.6 billion -- nearly $10 billion more than it accrued the previous year.
Under the helm of CEO Kathryn McLay, Sam's Club was quick to meet consumers' changing needs during the pandemic, rapidly rolling out curbside service in all of its nearly 600 stores and enabling members to order on the website or app, opt for email or text alerts, and pay in advance. And it paid off for the warehouse chain.
Consumers haven't abandoned their online shopping habit that intensified in 2020 when in-person shopping was riskier than buying from home. But that said, many consumers still prefer an in-store shopping experience when it comes to purchasing groceries and other staples -- items that Sam's Club sells in abundance. What's to stop them from shopping at their local grocery store instead of a mega warehouse like Sam's Club, or anywhere else? One possible answer: the cost of goods. Sales and discounts will continue to factor into their decision of where to shop, especially given inflation that is running rampant.
So just how good are Sam's Club deals? It largely depends on how savvy the consumer is. Here's a look at 20 ways to save at Sam's Club, courtesy of shopping and savings experts.
1. Get a 'Free' Membership
A one-year membership at Sam's Club costs $45, but until Sept. 12, new members will get a $45 credit on their first purchase. That makes the basic Sam's Club membership free for the first year.
Or, if you're not sure about joining Sam's Club, try a free 90-day membership. It's available only to those who haven't had an active membership in the past six months. The offer is void to customers in Washington, D.C.
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2. Go Ahead and Upgrade the Membership
The basic Sam's Club membership might be enough for you to know this is the store for you. If that's the case, Lisa Davis, shopping expert at Offers.com, recommended upgrading the to the Plus membership for the added benefits. Annual Plus membership costs $100.
"But if Sam's Club is your retailer of choice, it's the Plus membership where you'll really see the savings add up. For $100 a year, this membership gets you free shipping, 2% cash back, prescription and optical discounts, instant savings and a variety of other discounts and perks."
3. Shop With a Sam's Club Member
"Non-members with friends who are Sam's Club members can shop the store with them," Davis said. "Members can bring up to two guests per visit to any Sam's Club location."
4. Sign Up for Email Notifications
"Sam's Club offers its 'Shocking Values' limited-time savings opportunities with new deals arriving daily," Davis said. "Anyone can take advantage of the deals, but Sam's Club members will save more. You must create a free account to receive notifications."
5. Shop Sam's Club's Clearance Section
"Even though Sam's Club prices are discounted, the clearance section offers extra discounts on already-reduced items," Davis said.
The clearance items come from throughout the store, including home décor, toys and clothing.
6. Check the Latest Promo Codes
"Before you shop Sam's Club, make sure you have the latest promo codes to save even more off your purchases," Davis said.
Capital One Shopping and Rakuten are two sites that offer promo codes for cash-back rewards for purchases at Sam's Club.
7. Shop at the Right Times
"Sam's Club staff will often discount products mid-week, so if you're interested in getting the best deal, consider shopping early on that day," said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst for DealNews.com.
"There's a chance that product audits will happen on Tuesdays so any items that aren't moving quickly enough could be discounted, and those prices may reflect that as early as Wednesday morning."
8. Buy Discounted Gift Cards
"Like other warehouse stores, Sam's Club tends to offer gift cards at discounted prices. You can shop for cards from a variety of restaurants for less than their face value," Ramhold said. "For instance, you can get $100 worth of cards for around $86 depending on the restaurant. And there are smaller denominations available too -- bundles that add up to $75 worth, or even $30 worth. And they are indeed bundles -- typically you'll get three or four cards that are equally split. Obviously you can gift these if you choose to, but you can also use them yourself to visit your favorite restaurants for less."
9. Split Your Purchases
"Have a friend who isn't a member of Sam's Club? See if they'll be willing to split your purchases with you," Ramhold said. "That way, they'll cover half the cost and you won't have to worry about finding a place to store all the bulk products you buy."
10. Shop and Scan As You Go
"With the Sam's Club app you can scan items as you shop and then pay through the app," Ramhold said. "Then you can skip the line and show your proof of purchase to an associate on your way out the door."
11. Know the ABCs of Sam's Club
"If you see a 'N' on a price tag, it means 'never out' which means it's pretty much constantly in stock and unlikely to see discounts," Ramhold said. "Meanwhile 'A' stands for active and indicates a decent amount of stock but could go on sale in the future. 'C' means the item has been canceled, so it won't be reordered and if it's something you want, you should grab it while you can. 'O' indicates an item is 'orderable' and 'S' denotes an item that is seasonal."
12. Watch For Prices Ending in '1'
"These are clearance prices, and while signage will also typically make it obvious when an item is on clearance, it helps to know what kind of prices to look for anyway just in case," Ramhold said.
13. Grab an Instant Savings Book
"This booklet is filled with additional discount vouchers to save on already great prices on everything from groceries to clothing to tech and more," said money-saving expert Andrea Woroch. "You can receive a copy of the Instant Savings Book at any club and it's also available online at SamsClub.com (only while the ISB is active). 'Instant Savings' can usually only be used once, but some offers allow for multiple redemptions so just make sure to review the fine print for limit indicators and expiration date."
14. Double Down on Cash Back
"Sam's Club Plus members earn 2% in cash rewards, but you can earn even more by using a discount shopping site like CouponCabin.com to earn even more -- the site offers 1% back on SamsClub.com purchases," Woroch said. "Since purchases made at this warehouse club are generally larger due to volume, cash back goes a long way."
15. Purchase Subscriptions Through Sam's Club
"You can save on a variety of subscriptions as a Sam's Club member when you sign up through their site," Woroch said. "For instance, you can subscribe to the at-home fitness service Daily Burn for just $15.99 a month which is 20% off compared to regular prices, or get a subscription to Pandora Premium for $8.99 a month, compared to $9.99."
16. Apply For a Sam's Club Mastercard
"You will get 5% cash back on eligible gas purchases, 3% cash back on dining and travel purchases, 1% cash back on other purchases wherever Mastercard is accepted, no annual fees and your card doubles as your membership card," Woroch said. "Always review credit card details and compare other cards at sites like CardRates.com first to make sure it will give you the most rewards based on your spending style."
17. Check Out the Frozen Pizzas
Need a quick dinner? Look at the frozen pizzas. A 12-pack of Red Baron Singles Deep Dish Pizza variety pack is $11.98 - just $1 each.
18. Pick Up Member's Mark Merchandise
"This is Sam's Club's own brand offering everything from groceries to clothing to cleaning supplies to patio furniture -- we have a few sets and love the quality and look," Woroch said. "You get quality for less."
19. Get Bonus Products With Small Kitchen Appliance Purchases
"At first glance, Sam's Club may offer the same price for a small kitchen appliance compared to big-box stores like Target but the benefit is that you get more for less," Woroch said. "They usually offer additional attachments or components and other extra items with purchase."
20. Get Free Tire Repair
"Sam's Club members are privy to free tire repair regardless of where the tire was originally purchased," Woroch said.
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Jami Farkas contributed to the reporting for this article.