Last updated on March 8th, 2023
Wholesale clubs offer exceptional value for members. These members-only stores provide significant savings on big-ticket items like TVs, computers, furniture, and bulk grocery items. BJ’s and Sam’s Club are two of the better-known clubs out there – and both issue co-branded credit cards that provide savings on everyday purchases. But which card is right for you – the Sam’s Club® Mastercard® or the BJ’s Perks Elite® Mastercard®?
Sam’s Club® Mastercard® or BJ's Perks Elite® Mastercard®: Which Is Right for You?
BJ’s issues two credit cards through Comenity: the BJ’s Perks Plus® Mastercard® and the BJ’s Perks Elite® Mastercard®. Both cards feature no annual fee, but the Plus version most closely resembles the Sam’s Club® Mastercard®, which gets its best value with the higher tier Sam’s Club Plus membership.
Both the Sam’s Club and BJ’s Mastercards enjoy popularity among fans of stocking up their pantries, saving in bulk, and earning rewards while filing up, but which one is right for you? Here is the breakdown of the cards over crucial categories:
Pre-Qualification Before Applying
Applying for a credit card requires a credit check. Often, these credit checks (or credit inquiries) are known as “hard inquiries,” meaning the bank pulls your full credit report before approving (or denying) your credit card application. If you apply for a credit card and are declined, your credit score will likely take a minor hit.
One way to avoid a negative impact on your credit score before getting a new credit card is by pre-qualifying before you apply. Though they may sound similar, pre-qualification and pre-approval are not the same things.
A pre-approval means that a lender has analyzed your credit profile based on existing credit information it holds, offering a product you will likely be approved for. On the other hand, pre-qualification means the lender has reviewed financial information from a credit profile and believes you may be a good fit for the credit card product. Pre-qualifications are also known as “soft inquiries,” as they have no impact on your credit score.
Related Article: How to Pre-Qualify for a Credit Card
Does the Sam’s Club Mastercard Let You Pre-Qualify?
Yes, the Sam’s Club Mastercard does provide a quick, easy online pre-qualification process. Potential applicants can see their approval odds before applying without impacting their credit score. The BJ’s Perks Elite does not offer a pre-qualification online.
Credit Score Needed
How to Apply
Both cards require similar information to apply. Here are the types of information you can expect to provide before applying for either the Sam’s Club Mastercard or the BJ’s Perks Elite Mastercard:
- Address (including email address)
- Phone number
- BJ’s/Sam’s Club membership number
- Social Security Number
- Annual income
As stated, both cards feature no annual fee. However, that doesn’t mean there are no costs associated with opening (and maintaining) an account.
Sam’s Club offers two tiers of membership: standard Club membership and Plus membership. Club membership is $45 per year, with the ability to add up to 8 additional member accounts for just $40 each. Sam’s Club Plus membership costs $100 per year (although Sam’s sometimes offers a one-time price of $40 to join), with up to 16 additional accounts addable for $40 each.
With BJ’s, the costs are very similar. The company offers two personal membership levels and one business membership.
Inner Circle is the basic BJ’s membership level and costs $55 per year to join. BJ’s Inner Circle provides a lower level of rewards. It is most closely associated with the BJ’s Perks Plus version of the credit card. BJ’s Perks Rewards is the premium tier, offering up to 2% cash back on BJ’s purchases for a $110/year annual fee.
Both cards serve as membership cards, saving the cardholder space in their wallet and time when checking out at the register.
Where Can You Use It?
Both credit cards feature the Mastercard payment network. Mastercard is currently accepted in 212 countries worldwide. As such, both cards can be used practically anywhere you want to spend – or earn rewards.
Earning Cash Back Rewards
Both versions of the BJ’s Mastercard and the Sam’s Club Mastercard are exceptional gas rewards credit cards. Beyond just gas, however, both cards also provide quality rewards on dining and purchases made at the respective warehouse clubs.
Here’s how the cash back rewards breakdown with the two credit cards:
Savings on Gas
As mentioned, both cards provide their greatest value at the pump. The Sam’s Club Mastercard lets cardmembers earn 5% cash back on gas purchases anywhere Mastercard is accepted. While that 5% back is capped on the first $6,000 per year in spending (after that, 1% back on all gas station purchases), that total amounts to $500 per month.
In contrast, the BJ’s Elite Mastercard offers 10¢ off per gallon at BJ’s Gas, plus 2% cash back on purchases at gas stations not associated with BJ’s. According to statistics, the average American fills up their car at least twice per month, with the average fuel tank around 14 gallons in size. Based on those statistics, this would represent around $3 in savings each month, or $36 per year.
Savings at the Wholesale Club
The Sam’s Club® Mastercard® also earns accelerated cash back on purchases at the wholesale club. The card earns 3% back on Sam’s Club purchases for Plus members, with regular members earning 1% back on Sam’s Club purchases. That 3% back takes the form of the 1% all Sam’s Club members earn on purchases and the additional 2% Plus members earn on qualifying in-club and Pickup purchases.
In comparison, the BJ’s Elite Card offers 5% cash back on BJ’s purchases. The Plus Card, which works with BJ’s Circle membership, offers 3% back on purchases made with the wholesale giant.
Other Ways to Earn Rewards
Both versions of the BJ’s Mastercard offer 2% cash back on dining and 1% back on all other purchases. With the Sam’s Club Mastercard, Sam’s Club members earn 3% cash back on dining and takeout and 1% back anywhere else Mastercard is accepted worldwide.
Do Rewards Expire?
Rewards with the BJ’s Mastercard expire after six months, while Sam’s Club rewards do not expire (provided the account is open and in good standing).
Here is a quick recap of all the features of both cards:
5% cash back on gas anywhere Mastercard is accepted (on first $6,000 per year, then 1%)
3% cash back on Sam’s Club purchases for Plus members. Club members earn 1% cash back
3% cash back on dining and takeout
1% cash back on other purchases
No annual fee
Save 10¢ off per gallon at BJ’s Gas®
5% cash back on most BJ’s purchases
2% cash back on dining and non-BJ’s gas stations
1% cash back for everything else
No annual fee