Whether you're buying in bulk or taking advantage of membership perks, Sam's Club is a great spot to score impressive deals on a wide range of products. This popular warehouse store makes it easy to save big with regular storewide promotions, and we're sharing how to take your savings even further with a few slick tips.
1. Enjoy membership perks.
Our forums are constantly buzzing about Sam’s Club membership deals throughout the year, and it's easy to see why. The store is always offering some kind of promotion to lure new members. Right now, you can either take 50% off the cost of an annual membership (they start at $45 per year), or you can pay the full $45 and snag a free $25 Sam's Club gift card, a 16" Take 'n Bake pizza and an 18-count box of Daily Chef chocolate chunk cookies along with your purchase. (Cookies and pizza? Well played, Sam's Club. Well played.)
Members get lots of exclusive rewards, from discounts on glasses to free flat tire repair, and you can choose from three types of memberships depending on your needs: (Source)
- Sam's Savings: $45 annual fee
- Sam's Business: $45 annual fee (comes with early shopping hours and optional add-on memberships)
- Sam's Plus: $100 annual fee (comes with early shopping hours, extra discounts on prescription drugs, extra protection service plans on select electronics, optional add-on memberships and $10 cash rewards for every $500 you spend)
Occasional Sam's Club shoppers may prefer to shop with a one-day shopping pass instead, but keep in mind that this option includes a 10% service fee on your total purchase. (Source)
2. Learn the store's price codes.
It goes without saying that you should always look at price tags, but at Sam's Club, you'll want to pay special attention to both dollars and cents. A price ending with a 1 (.81 or .91, for example) implies that the item is discounted, while full-price items always end in .99.
Each price tag also includes an item number that ends in either a "C," "N" or "A." "C" means the item has been cancelled or that it's currently low in stock. In other words, it's likely that the price will drop in the very-near future. "N" stands for "never out" and is used for items that are always in stock. On the other hand, item numbers that end in the letter "A" reveal that the item is active and that the store has several of its kind in stock, so its price is unlikely to fall anytime soon. (Source)
3. Check the shelves.
Here's a fun fact: At Sam's Club, shelf space is actually "leased" by vendors for a specific time frame. If a product isn't selling as well as expected, the store will drop its price in order to get it off the shelves before the end of the lease period. These discounts are completely unadvertised, so you'll have to walk the aisles to spot them. (Generally, managers complete shelf audits on Tuesdays, and prices are updated to reflect those audits on Wednesdays.)
Some savvy Slickdealers have used this to their advantage by buying items at a slightly higher price while there's low stock. Afterward, they'll return the items when there are just a couple of units left on deep discount. Just go to customer service and ask to do a "return and buy back." As long as there's still some stock on the shelves, you can re-purchase unopened merchandise at the lower price with no questions asked. It's similar to using a credit card with price protection, and this trick is particularly helpful when you're shopping for seasonal merchandise.
4. Earn extra credit.
Just like pretty much every other store card out there, the Sam's Club Mastercard has its pros and cons. On the plus side, cardholders will get 5% cash back on gas, 3% cash back on dining and travel, and 1% cash back on everything else. The store is currently offering a $45 statement credit when you open a new credit card and use it to make a $100+ purchase that same day (essentially waiving the cost of your annual membership). (Source)
As for the cons? The card's variable APR is as much as 23.15%, so you definitely don't want to carry a balance.
Hate opening up a store card? Just join the club instead and use your current cards wisely. Like Slickdealer farsighted99 mentioned on the forums, "Amex occasionally has offers for Sam's Club, which makes the membership more attractive."
5. Buy gift cards for less.
Sam's Club is an excellent place to purchase gift cards at significantly reduced prices. The store sells cards for a wide assortment of popular retailers, and most are priced below their face values. Oftentimes, you can save 10% to 25% right off the bat.
6. "Drive" the price down.
You've heard the old saying that you'd better shop around, and it's especially true for Sam's Club shoppers. Most of the store's items are identical from location to location, but 10% of its stock varies based on market demographics and regional geography. If you live within driving distance of a few Sam's Club locations, it may be wise to alternate your visits. The shelf-space discounts mentioned above could vary in your favor if you go to a another store whose customers have different tastes.
7. Get personal.
What's interesting about Sam's Club is that each location operates slightly differently based on a range of factors, from the store's delivery schedule to how it's managed. It's always a good idea to talk with an employee at your local store to get the inside scoop on what days are best for discounts or when new stock is expected to arrive.
8. Skip the line.
Last fall, the store launched its free "Scan & Go" app, which lets customers avoid the checkout lines altogether. Members can use the app in stores to scan merchandise barcodes and pay for their purchases instantly. (Slickdealer mikhoang raved, "No lines, no wait! I love it.")
Shopping online instead? Use the "Club Pickup" service, which allows customers to purchase the items they need online rather than inside the store itself. You'll receive a notification once your order is ready, and you can pick up your items at the front of the store.
A lot of Sam's Club shoppers insist that they save more money using the store's Club Pickup program, because they don't make impulse buys. Also, it's easy to assume that you're out of something altogether only to buy it and realize that you had it in stock at the house already. (Am I the only one who does this?) Since you're completing your order online, you can double-check to see if you really are out of dishwashing liquid.
9. Score "Instant Savings."
The store's Instant Savings program essentially works like a giant catalog of coupons, but these discounts are automatically applied to your purchase -- no coupon clipping required. When you walk through a Sam's Club store or shop online, you'll spot Instant Savings advertised on a variety of products. All members are enrolled in the program, and these advertised savings are applied to the member price to save you even more. The store's website also features daily offers called "Shocking Values," and these limited-time deals let members save on everything from shampoo to home furnishings. (Source)
Just be aware of expiration dates. If you place your order online while an offer is valid but pay for the transaction inside the store after it's expired, you won't receive the discount. (Source)
Are you a member of Sam's Club, or is that pizza-and-cookies deal tempting you to join? Keep the conversation going in the comments section below!
Check out our full list of Sam's Club deals here!
Images courtesy of Sam's Club.
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