4 Signs a Sam’s Club Membership Is Not Worth Paying For

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Purchasing a Sam’s Club membership is not right for everyone. These four signs should serve as red flags that membership is not for you. 

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There are 600 Sam’s Club locations scattered across the U.S. and millions of Sam’s Club members. However, membership is not for everyone. In fact, it can be the wrong financial decision. Here are four signs that paying for a membership would be the wrong move for you.

1. The services you need are free

A surprising number of Sam’s Club benefits are available to everyone, whether they’re a member or not. They include:

Sam’s Club Cafe: You don’t need a membership to visit the Sam’s Club food court. You’re free to stop in for a meal, meet friends for coffee, buy a yogurt cup, or whatever else your heart desires. Alcohol: Most states do not allow membership stores (like Sam’s Club) to sell alcohol only to members. So, if your motivation for purchasing a membership is to score a discount price on alcohol, there’s no need. Take it for a test drive: If you’re not sure Sam’s Club is right for you, a one-day guest pass allows you to shop online for an entire day. As a non-member, there will be a 10% service fee added to your total, but a guest pass may be just enough to convince you that you’re not totally infatuated with the warehouse store. Buy prescription drugs: There’s no denying the appeal of $4 prescriptions, but you don’t have to be a Sam’s Club member to take advantage of that sweet deal. If the primary reason you’ve considered joining has anything to do with pharmacy access, there’s no reason to shell out for the membership. Have an eye exam: Say you’ve heard good things about an eye doctor who works at Sam’s Club. While you need a membership to purchase anything from the optical department, you’re free to have an eye exam without a membership.

2. You tend to be an impulse buyer

In 2022, 64% of U.S. adults reported an increase in their impulse spending. If you’ve ever strolled through a Sam’s Club, you know how easy it would be to pick up items you don’t need. You may even pick up a few things you don’t want, simply because the price is so low.

If you’re trying to build an emergency savings account or meet another financial goal, now may be the wrong time to become a member of a club with so many temptations on display.

If impulse buying has become an issue for you, consider it a sign to wait.

3. You’re unlikely to benefit from lower prices

Let’s say you want a Sam’s Club membership so you’ll have a “cheap place” to buy diapers, toilet paper, or soft drinks. The problem with that plan is that you can often find these three items (and many others) for less at your local grocery store, Target, or Walmart.

Before shelling out for a membership, do a little comparison shopping for the items you’re most likely to buy. Paying for a membership is only worth it if you’ll keep more money in your checking account each year than the membership costs.

4. You’re shopping for one or two people

The truth is, there are some purchases at Sam’s Club that a small household cannot possibly consume before they go bad. This includes fresh produce, some vitamins, sunscreen, and over-the-counter medications.

For some, a Sam’s Club membership makes perfect sense. However, you have every right to say: “No, thank you. It’s not for me.”

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The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.Dana George has positions in Target and Walmart. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Target and Walmart. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.



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