Dirty Sam’s Club Tactics – New Shipping Fees on many Gift Cards

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sams club amex offer shipping

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Sam’s Club Amex Offer Update – New Shipping Fees on Many Cards

I totally understand when a company makes slight changes when the response to a promotion isn’t quite what was expected. I’m sure that is what happened with the recent Sam’s Club Amex Offer. $20 off $20 or more sounds like a decent promotion to the company, but to us it means $20 in free money.

Even though I understand some changes may have been needed, Sam’s Club has now crossed a line in my opinion. It started when they removed the lower denomination Sam’s Club gift cards from their site. You used to be able to purchase $10 & $20 cards, but those disappeared last week.

Sam’s Club Gift Card Denominations

Did they run out of stock? Well I ordered one $20 gift card on the first day of the promotion and received it already. It is just a generic card that can have any amount loaded onto it. Sam’s Club removed the lower denominations, because people were getting free money and they didn’t like it.

So now the lowest denomination is $50. Since you can pay with two credit cards, this means that you spend $10 out of pocket to get $50 in credit. An 80% discount on everything at Sam’s Club and Walmart is pretty good. Luckily I used up the remainder of my 22 cards the other day to purchase $50 Sam’s Club gift cards. I was a little annoyed they didn’t have $20 cards, but life goes on.

Shipping Fees on Gift Cards

sams club amex offer shipping

Then this morning I received a comment from Sarah on a previous post about the deal. She said that when she went to checkout for the $50 Sam’s Club gift card there was a SHIPPING FEE. What? A company is charging a shipping fee on their own gift cards? Then I went and looked. Not only are they charging a shipping fee, but the cost is $5.55 to ship a gift card. Wow!

sams club amex offer shipping
New shipping charges on Vanilla Mastercards.

Then I started to look at other cards. While many merchant gift cards still have free shipping, Sam’s Club has instituted a shipping charge on their Visa, Mastercard and American Express gift cards as well and it is $5.99 per card. Clearly they are trying to eliminate all of the sweet spots of this promo which is about as consumer unfriendly as you can get.

Best Options Now

sams club amex offer shipping
Merchant gift cards still have free shipping.

I think the best options now are merchant gift cards with free shipping. Since Sam’s Club & Visa/MC/Amex gift cards have shipping fees that cost between $5-$6 per card, that simply isn’t a viable option anymore. Thankfully they do have a wide range of both physical and eGift cards for many merchants.


I really dislike companies who change the rules and don’t value their customers. This could have been a way to gain new customers from Costco, but instead Sam’s Club is messing with people. The terms of the promotion could have easily excluded gift cards, but they didn’t. Now the company is trying to punish those customers who decided to take full advantage of the promotion.

Hopefully most of you were able to take full advantage of your Amex Offers before this change? What do you think? Is Sam’s Club wrong in doing this or is it just another part of the game? Let me know in the comments.

Shawn Coomerhttps://milestomemories.com/
Shawn Coomer earns and burns millions of miles/points per year circling the globe with his family. An expert at accumulating travel rewards, he founded Miles to Memories to help others achieve their travel goals for pennies on the dollar. Shawn also runs a million dollar reselling business, knows Vegas better than most and loves to spend his time at the 12 Disney parks across the world.

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  1. Found a Sam’s Club link offering a $10 Sam’s Club gift card and $120 in savings on select items with purchase of the $45 membership (and likely no 10% upcharge). Haven’t gone as far as the payment page to see if they will accept two different AMEX cards. If there’s no better offer for membership at this time, this may be the way to go.


  2. Was disappointed to see them add the shipping charge… but remember:

    Free money. So you have to pay for them to ship you free friggin’ money. So let’s say you have 10 cards signed up. That means you pay $27.50 but you get $172.50 worth of Sams Gift Cards for nothing.

    Plus there is a lot of other cards you can buy; like movie tickets, restaurant cards, etc. that have free shipping. If you are a member you can get free eGift cards. Plus you can buy coffee, and household items online.

    I can’t see complaining about free money. Maybe you are annoyed that you didn’t order all your cards at the beginning (I didn’t)… that’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

    • Lynda they are charging shipping fees as high as $50 depending on where in the country you are. They chose to offer the promotion and obviously felt this was the right way to go to discourage people from buying their gift cards. I actually purchased all of my cards before the shipping fee, so I don’t have this problem.

      To be clear, I am not complaining about free money, but rather about the way Sam’s Club went about it. This is a poor way to do business, but certainly within their rights. Thanks for commenting and sharing your perspective!

  3. @Shawn,

    I have always been quiet but I cannot stand anymore seeing all the negative comments above and I have to speak up my opinion. Please ignore the trolls or negative comments. I just want to let you know that we are all appreciate your hard work and always keep us up to date with the news. This is your blog so you decide what to post and nobody should control you for that. Just continue to write quality and excellent postings on deals, news, update, and guide….as you have been always doing all this time! We cannot please everyone, there will be some people who like it and some who don’t like it. Some who like it can stay, enjoy, and support you. But those who don’t, they also have an option, aren’t they….they can simply don’t have to open your blog and read the post that they don’t like.

    Me, my family and my friends and others always appreciate your hard work. We all can see that you are working hard all the time to deliver the best for us in this hobby, we can see it…the improvement of your site…design, layout, and quality of contents get better and better…also, you are very responsive and friendly….you actively respond to every question and comments and help those who need help. These really means a lot for us. That’s why we always choose to use your affiliate links when we are doing our app-o-rama and applying for credit cards as a way of saying thank you.
    We prefer to use your affiliate link even if you don’t put it on your blog, than other bloggers who don’t respond their readers like TPG or MMS, Back then, we have always use MMS affiliate link back when he was actively respond and helping us his reader, until he never respond at all now then I am just using his blog to get information and take my business of using affiliate link to other bloggers who work hard to reply the reader’s comment like you or Lucky….because I think they deserve it more than MMS or other blogger who never reply. I always encourage my friends and family to always never use affiliate links from the blogger who rarely or never reply like MMS or TPG, eventhough their blog post sometimes full of affiliate links, but we just ignore them….we just take the good heads up or info on the new increased sign up bonus credit card that they posted on their website, but we go and open other blogger’s website (like MilesToMemories) who always respond and help us, and use his link because he deserve it more.

    Thanks for this post again. Keep up the good work and congrats on your new addition the family! We will always love you and support you!

    • Thanks for sharing John. There is always opportunity to work within the rules to get a greater gain than the average person. The main point of the post was to inform people of the changes and to point out the best way forward. Does that make what Sam’s Club did right? I don’t think so. Either way you are definitely entitled to your opinion. Have a great night!

  4. Changing terms in between a promotion was not a great idea. Best thing with Amex offers is to redeem them as soon as possible.

  5. These Vanilla GCs can’t be loaded onto Serve, can only be used to buy MOs?

    Any reason not to get these to absorb the fees?

    Can you use these at WM to buy pin enabled GCs?

  6. Now that Vanilla GCs have shipping fees, I’ll just have to do plan B and get iTunes GCs. There’s an instant “Tech Savings” for the single $50 and $100 GCs — I would still get the $20 AMEX offer if I purchased one of these GCs right?

  7. Agree this is very shady and I think anyone who really digs into understanding how all of this works, including the fact Amex at the very least subsidizes the offers on the merchant-end, would realize Sam’s Club’s actions are not on par with what you’d expect with a large, supposedly reputable business.

    For a $50 Sam’s card, I’m seeing a $14.04 shipping charge. I mean really? There should be NO CHARGE for gift cards that force the buyer to now shop at Sam’s, meaning an instant realized profit on their end since we’re forced to shop at their business. If it were for Fandango or a third-party gift card then whatever, let them charge shipping. They won’t realize profit on the back-end so they have to ensure profit margins on the purchase meet their expectations.

    The biggest problem here is how their actions are not in-line with the terms and conditions of the offer. If gift cards aren’t allowed then fine, block the purchases before you roll out the offer. If you want to offer gift cards as part of the Amex Offer then ok, charge us shipping from the onset. This actually reminds me of Amazon’s dynamic pricing model and why I strongly dislike it. I’ve added items to my cart, went to pay, and had the item go up almost $10 in price WITHOUT a notice being given. Granted their system is automated, while Sam’s did this manually and intentionally changed aspects of this offer AFTER the terms were laid out and without any warning.

    This has nothing to do with us being greedy and not appreciating anything that’s free, as I’m sure this is the logic some people commenting use to defend their reasoning. Don’t bait-and-switch on us after you realize the deal isn’t as favorable as you’d initially have liked.

  8. Thanks for posting this.
    I have 4 Amex cards total that eligible for this offer but I didn’t buy anything at first since I was worried after read that many purchases coded as Sams Club Photo. Now that everything is clear and the code has been fixed, I want to buy the Sam’s gc and suddenly I saw this. This make me sad, I even bought the $45 deal from Groupon to joined the Sam’s club membership. I still want to take advantage of this offer.
    Do you think that they will reinstated the $20 Sam’s gc back or eliminate the shipping fee for gc later on before the offer ends on September?
    If not, then what item is best to buy to maximize the offer? Thanks a lot!

    • Probably merchant gift cards of which there are many. I recommend searching around their site to see if anything works for you. Other than that you could buy merchandise, but that isn’t nearly as efficient as having the gift cards.

    • Nice find! Thanks.

      Had one of my earlier orders for a Sam’s GC canceled, I think b/c I used a few bucks left over on an old WM GC as partial payment.

  9. In addition, not all gift cards are available everywhere. I tried to order a $50 iTunes gift card but it said it can’t be delivered to my state (OK). Pretty crappy they don’t mention that until you create an account and get to the final page.

    But the good news is I purchased above $20 on each of my cards and got the email immediately that I had participated in the AMEX offer. So if you’ve been holding out because you weren’t sure it would code correctly, looks like they fixed it.

  10. Is there a shipping fee on Sams’s gift cards if you are a Sam’s Club member? My brother is a member, so I wondered if I can order through his account. Can he check out using my Amex cards?

  11. I don’t agree.

    They are not changing the terms of their deal or cancelling old orders as far as I am aware. You still get $20 off any purchase. The price of the gift cards changes for everyone, whether you are taking advantage of the offer or you are paying full price.

    There are tons of other ways of using the credit. They were getting fleeced so they responded. I would do the same thing.

    • They aren’t changing the terms, but just the way they do business within the terms. Why not ban gift cards to begin with? I definitely see your point, but to argue the company isn’t being sneaky doesn’t make sense.

      With that said, I don’t agree that they were getting fleeced. How are they losing when you buy a gift card that locks you into shopping with them? Clearly the response was not what they wanted, but instituting shipping fees just to discourage gift card purchases isn’t customer friendly. I never argued that it was illegal though.

      • I hear your points.

        I have a friend who used to work at American express in the offers for you department. He claims that the offers for you credits are funded by the merchant, not American express. I’m sure their intention was for people to want a discount on merchandise and therefore buy a membership, not get totally free items. That being said, nothing wrong at all with buying gift cards when they are not excluded.

      • They should have made the offer $20 off $50 or something like that if they didn’t want people just buying gift cards. Were they so naive to not realize that this was happen??? The way things are going, I wouldn’t be surprised if they shortened the length of the promotion, given that they’ve already crippled it. Are they willing to go 4+ months without the low value gift cards being available for regular customers to spite AMEX customers who want to use it for the deal? How much business will that cost them? They had a Safety gift card that presumably was used for business awards and started at $25. That’s lost business if a company wanted to give a $25 reward to their employees.

  12. I just made the online purchase of Starbucks $30 Multi-Pack – 3/$10 Gift Cards (Item #: 518122) for $28.98 with no shipping or tax charges and used the registered AMEX card.

    Will see if this works!

  13. Hi,
    I couldn’t find sams club e-gift card. i logged in using my membership a/c. Can someone please provide SKU?


  14. I was disappointed to see this as well. I got 1 $20 Sam’s gift card for free but wanted to make sure the credit posted. Yesterday night I used 2 other amex cards for a $50 Sam’s giftcard and was disappointed to see a $6+ fee. I decided to use a cash back portal for 7% cash back and the shopping fee went up to $7+! I was disappointed but I still got the $60 free.

    • @David T,
      so did you end up buying $50 Sam’s gc and paid $7 for total of $17 out of pocket cost after $40 statement credit? How did you come up with $60 free?

  15. Remember that Sam’s has a moneyback guarantee on membership so you can join to get e-gift cards or get rid of some of the non-member fees then cancel your membership. I actually joined in good faith figuring I’d try it and see what other deals might come my way but they screwed up the order, had not great customer service, so I took my 6 gift cards and cancelled the membership.

  16. Can you purchase items on the website with AMEX and then return to the physical club for a refund in GC? Since they only accept MasterCard at the club.

  17. Thankfully both of my orders finally went from pending to posted on AMEX site. Not sure if the gift cards will ever ship but we shall see.

  18. Of course I agree this is BS, but I think you’re being a little dramatic: “that simply isn’t a viable option anymore” – I mean, I’m pretty sure that the math still works out… $5.55 for $40 in free money (which is what WM GC are to most people).

    • Perhaps my language is a little strong, but in my opinion it isn’t viable when compared to the merchant gift cards that have a discount and no shipping.

      The Visa/MC/Amex gift cards definitely are not viable given the high fees plus shipping.

    • I agree with Shawn. What a sleazy tactic to pull at the last minute? In addition, their gift card activation process is ridiculous, even worse than giftcardmall… I dislike Sam club back a few years and now even worst

      • How do you activate them? i got 2 $20 Sams gift cards and i can’t seem to find whatever activation code i’m supposed to enter. Any help would be great. Thanks.

        • There is a link in the shipping confirmation email. It is pretty well hidden, since you wouldn’t think to look there for activation.

          You would think they would put some sort of activation instructions with the card, but they don’t.


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