A while back I talked about the clever ways you can shop at Costco without a membership. The article was very popular and made me realize I should write the same article for Sam’s Club. Maybe you’re on the fence about dropping $45 for a standard membership, or you know you won’t buy enough in a year to make it worth it. Whatever the case may be, there are clever ways to get free access to the Sam’s Club warehouse throughout the year. Here is what you need to know to make it happen.
1. Use a Free 1-Day Pass
The easiest way to get into Sam’s Club and shop without a membership is to Print a One-Day Pass for free. It’s a little tricky to find, on this page click on the File Attachment – Article #279 down toward the bottom of the page. Be aware that you’ll be charged a 10% fee on all purchases and the 1-day pass cannot be used on Black Friday. This is a great way to get in and check out Sam’s and not have to shell out $45 or $100 for an annual membership.
2. Shop Items That Don’t Require a Membership
Here are the items at Sam’s Club that you can buy without an active membership:
- Alcohol: According to Glamour Living, “Because of a law that prohibits the sale of alcohol through members-only arrangements, all Sam’s Club stores will sell beer, wine, and the hard stuff to nonmembers.”
- Prescription Drugs: From the Sam’s site, “You do not have to be a Member to buy your prescription medications from Sam’s Club. For pharmaceuticals with a script there is no fee for non-members.”
- Optical Services: Also from the Sam’s Club site, “A Sam’s Club Membership will be required to purchase optical products. However, a Membership is not required to see the doctor of optometry.”
Do you know of any other items you can buy at Sam’s without a membership? Let me know if you do.
3. Shop During an Open House
Several times throughout the year, Sam’s Club hosts an open house event where all non-members are invited to shop the warehouse. The best way to be kept in-the-know of upcoming open houses is to sign up for email alerts (look at bottom of page) from Sam’s or follow them on Facebook as they always let folks know in advance when an open house is in the works.
5. Have a Member Add You
If you have a family member who has a Sam’s membership and is the only person on the account, they can add you to their account for free. You’ll get a separate membership card in the mail and be good to go (and save). Important note: You must be the primary account holder to add a complimentary cardholder.
6. Shop at Sam’s Club.com
Another smart way to take advantage of Sam’s Club pricing and selection is by shopping their website. You DO NOT have to be an active member to shop on SamsClub.com, BUT you’ll be charged a 10% surcharge on your online purchases. If you’re making a significant purchase from their site, and you’re not a member, consider asking a friend or family member (who is a member) to make the purchase for you.
7. Shop With a Friend
Avoid the 10% fee you’ll get charged with a 1-day pass, and simply shop with a friend or family member that is a paying member. They’ll use their card at checkout and you can simply repay them for your purchases. This tip seems fairly obvious but is often an overlooked way to shop at Sam’s without paying for a membership.
8. Earn Cash Rewards That’ll Pay for Your Membership
Okay, before you holler at me, this final tip does require you to buy a membership, but….it could easily allow you to get if for free in the end. It works by you signing up for the Sam’s Club Plus membership ($100/year) which earns you 2% cashback on all purchases. The 2% back can easily pay for your membership if you spend $420/month on average. While that number might seem big, if you’re buying all your groceries and household items for your family at Sam’s that number is fairly easy to reach.
By Kyle James
Photo by Nicholas Eckhart.