4 Wholesale Club Credit Cards for Savvy Shoppers

costco's new visa credit card

[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are reviewed below.]

For the cost of an annual membership fee, wholesale clubs offer deals on groceries, gas, and more. These stores stock a much greater variety of goods than your average neighborhood supermarket or specialty retailer, and you can even order big-ticket items online.

Many wholesale clubs offer their own credit cards with rewards for purchases made at their stores, and other cards are designed to give wholesale club members even greater savings at their club of choice.

Here are four credit cards for savvy wholesale club shoppers.

1. Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi

Rewards: 4% cash back on up to $7,000 in qualifying gas purchases every year (1% cash back after that threshold is met); 3% cash back on dining and qualifying travel purchases; 2% cash back on Costco and Costco.com purchases; and 1% cash back on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus:
None
Annual Fee:
$0 with a paid Costco membership.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR):
0% APR for seven months on purchases, then variable 16.24% APR; variable 16.24% APR on balance transfers.
Why We Picked It: Costco members earn double cash back on their wholesale club purchases.
For Wholesale Clubs: Your online and in-store Costco purchases earn 2% cash back, which goes a long way toward reducing your Costco bill. Plus, filling up at eligible gas stations (including Costco’s) will earn you 4% cash back.
Drawbacks: If you don’t shop at Costco, this card isn’t right for you.

2. Bank of America Cash Rewards 

Rewards: 3% cash back on gas and 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs for up to $2,500 in combined quarterly purchases; 1% cash back on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus:
Online $150 bonus cash if you spend $500 in the first 90 days of your account opening.
Annual Fee:
$0
APR:
0% APR for 12 months on purchases and on balance transfers made within 60 days of account opening, then variable 13.99% to 23.99% APR.
Why We Picked It: This card’s cash back rate isn’t limited to a specific wholesale club.
For Wholesale Clubs: You’ll earn 2% cash back on all wholesale club purchases, no matter your club of choice. So if you switch wholesale clubs, you can bring this card along without losing out on cash back.
Drawbacks: Special cash back rates for gas, groceries, and wholesale club purchases are capped at $2,500 in purchases per quarter. Once you reach that limit, your cash back will drop to 1% for the remainder of the quarter. 

3. Sam’s Club Mastercard

Rewards: 5% cash back on up to $6,000 in gas purchases per year (1% cash back after that threshold is met); 3% cash back on dining and travel purchases; and 1% cash back on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus:
$45 statement credit if you open a card and make a purchase of $45 or more at SamsClub.com on the same day.
Annual Fee:
$0 with a paid Sam’s Club membership.
APR:
Variable 15.90% or 23.90% APR on purchases, depending on your creditworthiness.
Why We Picked It: Sam’s Club members can earn cash back on a wide variety of purchases.
For Wholesale Clubs: Making a $45 purchase at SamsClub.com on the first day of your card will get you a $45 bonus statement credit (offer ends December 31, 2017). Oddly enough, the card’s best value is on gas, dining, and travel purchases that can be made outside of Sam’s Club. Sam’s Club purchases will earn 1% cash back.
Drawbacks: While the special cash back rates are competitive, you earn only 1% cash back on Sam’s Club purchases. Many basic cash back cards can match or beat that rate. 

4. My BJ’s Perks Elite Mastercard 

Rewards: 5% cash back on eligible BJ’s and BJs.com purchases; 2% cash back on eligible dining and non-BJ’s gas purchases; and 1% cash back on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus:
None
Annual Fee:
$0 with a paid BJ’s membership.
APR:
Variable 15.99% or 25.99% APR, depending on your creditworthiness.
Why We Picked It: BJ’s members earn strong cash back in-store and online.
For Wholesale Clubs: Eligible in-store and online BJ’s purchases earn 5% cash back. You’ll also automatically save 10 cents per gallon at BJ’s gas stations.
Drawbacks: If you don’t shop at BJ’s, you should keep looking. 

Choosing a Credit Card for Wholesale Club Shopping

You should check the credit card offered at your favorite wholesale club, as it will likely provide great cash back rates on its own products.

But don’t jump on your wholesale club’s card without checking out the competition. General cash back cards may offer equal or greater cash back value. And if you ever cancel your wholesale club membership, a branded wholesale club card won’t be quite as valuable.

Make sure to check the fees and APR associated with any cards you’re considering, as they may eat into the value of your cash back earnings.

What Credit Is Required for a Credit Card for Wholesale Club Shopping?

Cash back cards frequently require good to excellent credit. You should check your credit score before you apply, and submit an application only if you have a decent shot at approval—a hard inquiry into your credit can lower your score a few points. You can check your credit report free at Credit.com.

Image: istock

At publishing time, the Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for this card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees, and terms with credit card issuers, banks, or other financial institutions directly.

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The Do’s & Don’ts of Shopping at a Wholesale Price Club

when-to-buy-in-bulk

You’d think because I write about smart shopping, I wouldn’t have a price club “problem.” Yet as a new member, it took several visits to get my bulk shopping under control. Enough olive oil to bathe in? A lifetime supply of cheese puffs? C’mon, how can you stop yourself? But you should, in fact, stop yourself. Buying in bulk can be a cost-effective way to stock up on essentials, but there are pitfalls.

High levels of debt, for instance, can hurt your wallet and your credit scores. (You can how credit card balances are currently affecting your credit by viewing two of your credit scores for free each month on Credit.com.)

Here are some rules of thumb when shopping at price clubs.

1. Consider Your Spending Habits

Wholesale price clubs aren’t for everyone. Before joining, compare the membership fee with how often you might shop there, how much you might save and your personal circumstances. Shoppers who are able to plan menus in advance or who are buying for a large family can get a lot out of a price club membership, whereas single people who eat out a lot probably won’t.

2. Pay Attention to Price

To avoid overspending or buying things that spoil before you get through the box, make sure you are a, only buying what you need, b, buying things you will genuinely use and c, buying something that’s a great deal. Also, while most items purchased in bulk are well-priced, be mindful of unit prices so you can make informed decisions when shopping at your price club rather than other retailers.

3. Remember the ‘House’ Brand

Don’t turn your nose up at the “house” brand. In some cases, the products really measure up.

4. Shop During Off-Peak Hours

To dodge crowds and lines at the register, try to avoid going on weekends (unless you show up right when they open the doors) and in the afternoon and evening hours before a holiday weekend or a storm.

Deciding What to Buy — & What to Skip

Cleaning Products

Liquid detergents and soaps tend to become less effective over time, so buy them in smaller containers at the grocery or big box store instead of in bulk. Powdered cleaning products typically have an unlimited shelf life, however, so if you like powder, go for it.

Vitamins

Before investing in 400 soft gels of fish oil, take a moment to calculate how long it will take you to get through them all before the expiration date on the bottle.

Baby Products

New parents: try to avoid going overboard at the price club. Forty dollars for 180 diapers seems like a great deal until your baby grows out of them halfway through the lot. Wipes will eventually dry out, so you may also want to refrain from buying a box of 1,100 when potty training is right around the corner. With baby formula, remember that your baby will start eating solid foods soon enough, so all that formula could end up expiring before your baby drinks it all.

Beauty Products

If more than one person in the family uses a particular item or you go through the item quickly, like body lotion, shower gel or hair conditioner, a bulk purchase can be a smart purchase. However, if the night cream that only you use is available in a 32 o.z. vat … maybe not. Face creams are really at their best when used within a three to six month period, and that’s a lot of cream to slather on in such a short period. For sun products, SPF is most effective if used in a year so. If the whole family is using that oversized pump bottle all summer, great. Just you? Maybe wait to get it at the drugstore.

Fresh Produce

The beauty product rule also applies to fresh produce. If the whole family loves red seedless grapes, by all means, get the 7-pound bag. But if they’re just for you? It’s a good idea to skip it.

Perishable Snacks

They might be cheaper in bulk, but unless you’re having a party tonight or tomorrow, these pretzels, chips or cheese puffs can go stale before you get through the bag.

Condiments

Unless you have a large family or a kid who puts ketchup on everything, that humungous squeeze bottle of ketchup could possibly last at least a year. Best to go for the smaller bottle at the grocery store so what you’re spreading on your burger is fresh.

Cereal, Bread, Soda, Canned Goods, Eggs & Milk

These items are generally similar to those at your local grocery store, so compare prices, factoring in any coupons, and think hard about how quickly you might go through the item.

Sundry Food Items

Brown rice has a shelf life of about six months. Are you going to get through that gazillion-pound bag in time? Spices last six to 12 months, so consider that before you throw a 32 o.z. jar of cumin in your cart. Same goes for olive oil, whose shelf life is about six months.

Office Supplies

This category is hit or miss. While the prices on basic office supplies are usually better at your price club, you can find deep seasonal discounts at office supply and big box stores. Also, do you need 36 pens?

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Image: sergeyryzhov

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