Like its competitor Costco, Sam’s Club claims to offer great values. In fact, the motto of this membership warehouse club is “savings made simple.” And while it’s true that smart shoppers can save big at Sam’s Club, you shouldn’t assume that you’re always getting the best deal – make sure you know all the ways to save hundreds on your grocery bill.
While many people flock to Sam’s Club for the bargains and bulk purchases, there are some secrets the company doesn’t want you clued in on — like the fact that sometimes you don’t even need a membership to shop there. That’s right! And there’s more little-known policies that could affect your shopping experience.
Individuals looking to save money at Sam’s Club should take advantage of all the opportunities the store offers to score discounts and freebies. Here are nine ways to get the most from your Sam’s Club membership and boost your savings.
Save Money on a Membership
Shoppers can purchase an annual membership for $50 or a Sam’s Plus membership for $110. The latter offers consumers $10 cash back for every $500 spent, extended warranty coverage and extra savings for travel, pharmacy and business services.
Before purchasing, look for Sam’s Club membership deal on a daily deal site such as Groupon, said Mary Hoover, creator of the money-saving blog MissiontoSave.com. Typically, the membership price is the same with these offers, but they include Sam’s Club gift cards and coupons. However, consumers can sometimes find discounts on memberships along with the gift card and coupon offerings.
Use Walmart Gift Cards
Although using a gift card sadly won’t let you to shop at Sam’s Club without a membership, they offer other sweet perks in place of that. Sam’s Club members of all tiers can purchase items online and at brick-and-mortar locations using a Walmart gift card. They can even use Walmart gift cards to fill up on gas at Sam’s Club fuel stations. [x]
Tap Into Military or Student Incentives
Sam’s Club regularly offers special incentives for military personnel as well as student memberships according to Regina Conway, a consumer expert with Slickdeals.net. For example, active and former U.S. military members who renew or join can get a $10 gift card with a basic membership purchase. Additionally, the Sam’s Club Collegiate Membership includes a $15 gift card incentive for new purchases and renewals.
Get Free Samples and Products
Loyal Sam’s Club customers know they can score almost a full meal by shopping at times when food samples are offered. However, they might not realize that they can collect product samples as well. According to Maria Tiongco Ramos, implementation specialist and creator of the money-saving blog ASavingsWOW.com, shoppers can get free product samples simply by scanning their membership cards at the “Freeosk” kiosks located in stores.
The samples sometimes contain coupons. In other cases, you can get free, full-sized products, such as personalized photo mugs or photo books.
Get Free Prescription Drugs
Sam’s Club offers no-cost prescriptions for certain medications, a benefit that could add up to hundreds of dollars in savings per year, Ramos said. You have to be a Sam’s Plus member to get the 10 free prescriptions that the Sam’s Club pharmacy offers, however.
Additionally, members can get over 600 generic medications for $10 or less with additional discounts on qualifying select brand ones.
Hunt Down Clearance Items
Sam’s Club has a tendency to clear out seasonal items and products that the retailer is not planning to restock. Said Conway, buying items on clearance is “a great way to save some cash.”
Clearance items can usually be found in the back of the store, Roe said. She recommends asking your store’s associates to find out when certain items will be marked down for clearance.
Use the Scan & Go App
Standing in line for groceries is such a drag, but guess what? Sam’s Club has a cool app that lets you skip the line! All you gotta do is download it, start adding items to your cart, and scan their barcodes with the app. And get this – you can even pay for everything right there in the app! Once you’re all done, just show your digital receipt to a club employee and you’re free to bounce. Grocery shopping just got a whole lot easier, folks!
Crack the Code
Hey, wanna be a savvy shopper at Sam’s Club? Well, listen up! You might already know that Sam’s Club offers great deals, but did you know that you can snag even more savings if you learn how to decipher their price tags? Each tag will have either N, A, or C on it. N means “Never Out” which basically means it’s always in stock and won’t be going on sale anytime soon. A means “Active” which means there’s plenty of stock left to sell, and the price is probably not going to change soon. And C means “Cancelled” which means the item is being discontinued and they’re trying to clear out the stock.
You Don’t Need a Membership to Buy Alcohol
If you’re not a member of Sam’s Club but you need to stock up on some booze, no worries! Thanks to a nifty little law, all Sam’s Club stores are required to sell alcohol to anyone who walks in the door–membership or no membership! And let me tell you, they’ve got some seriously good deals on beer, wine, liquor, and more. We’re talking savings of up to 15-25% on top-shelf brands, people! So whether you’re a member or not, head on over to Sam’s Club and get the party started.
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Laura Beck contributed to the reporting of this article.