Warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s Club offer great savings when you buy food and household items in bulk.
The only problem is they usually require you to pay a membership fee to shop there.
If you’re not shopping often, or just want to get one or two large consumer items, you might not want to pay the $45 or $100 that membership costs.
What if you really don’t want to pay for membership?
Are there legal ways that you can enjoy member savings as a nonmember?
Actually, there are several ways that you can enjoy at least some of the savings by shopping at Sam’s Club with no membership card.
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1. Print out a Sam’s Club One-Day Pass
If you just want to see what it’s all about, Sam’s Club lets you have a one-day free pass that allows you to shop in the store.
You can even print it out online.
But, sorry to disappoint you, you’ll still have to pay the 10% surcharge on anything you buy (except in California, South Carolina, or Elmsford, NY).
By the way, Costco doesn’t offer a One Day Pass or anything similar. However, there are many other ways to shop at Costco without a membership.
2. Shop at SamsClub.com without a Membership
One of the easiest ways to enjoy savings is to shop online at the Sam’s Club website. Anyone can do it.
The only snag is that nonmembers have a 10% surcharge added at checkout, which will reduce your savings.
3. Become an Add-on Member
This is only possible if someone else in your family is a paid-up member.
If so, they can add you as an additional cardholder free of charge so that you can shop without restraint, too.
Sam’s Club’s Help Center explains how adding a complimentary card holder works.
4. Buy Just Certain Items
Restrictive, I know, but just as we explained in our recent post about saving money at Costco, Sam’s Club is also required by law to sell certain items to even nonmembers.
These items include alcohol, prescription medications, and other healthcare services.
5. Wait for an Open House
From time to time, Sam’s Club holds an open house event, when all and sundry are invited to come and shop, as a way of attracting new members.
You can find out about these by signing up for Sam’s Club’s Email Newsletter.
6. Shop with a Friend
Another answer to shopping at Sam’s Club without a membership card is to go with a friend who is a member, and who is prepared to pay for your purchases at the checkout.
You can then simply reimburse them when you get outside the store.
7. Shop at Walmart
I know this post is supposed to be about shopping at Sam’s without a card, but Walmart carries a lot of the same stuff that its bigger brother (dad?) carries. So, it’d be worth it to take a look at Walmart to see they have the item(s) you need.
Become a Member
If you really enjoy the savings that Sam’s Club offers, then the real answer is to become a member.
A basic membership costs $45, and a plus membership $100. The plus membership gives you some additional benefits, and most importantly cash rewards.
If you buy the membership and decide you don’t like it, then Sam’s Club will refund the membership price.
Save More with a Plus Membership
When you get a Plus membership, you can earn rewards up to $500 a year.
You get $10 back for every $500 spent, excluding money spent on alcohol, tobacco, and a few other things.
It’s not hard to spend $500 a month on groceries, and you may also buy bigger items such as a TV during the year. So you should be able to get $10 credit per month, or $120 a year, which will more than pay for your membership.
Even if you spent just $250 a month, which would amount to $60 in a year, it would pay for the difference between the basic membership and the Plus membership, giving you access to the additional benefits.
The cashback is loaded onto your club card, which you can use as you want, even towards next year’s membership!
If you’re interested in becoming a member but undecided, first take a look around the website to get an idea of the values, then take advantage of the one-day pass so that you can see for yourself what savings you will be making.
And remember you can always get your membership fee back if you decide later it’s not for you. And in that case, you can simply use the strategies mentioned here to keep shopping at Sam’s Club without a membership.