How to Shop at Sam’s Club without a Membership

how to shop at sams club without a membership
Photo: iStock

Buying in bulk is a great way to save money on the products you use most. Whether you’re seeking groceries for the entire family, high-quality discount dog food, a stockpile of toilet paper, or even a bulk order of plain white t-shirts, you can really wrack up the savings by buying in large quantities. But to access such attractive deals, you likely have to join a club.

Indeed, Costco and Sam’s Club, the country’s most recognizable bulk depots, are membership-based. That means you have to pay an annual fee just to shop at these big box stores. At Sam’s Club, $45 will get you a year’s membership — but are there tricks for how to shop at a Sam’s CLub without a membership?

Indeed, there are! Here are a few Savetastic hacks to getting around this mandatory membership, so you can shop at Sam’s without actually joining the club.

90-day Free Trial

To access the amazing bulk deals at Sam’s Club without paying for a membership, sign up for the 90-day free trial. As long as you haven’t had a paid membership in the past six months, you can easily sign up for the free test-run, with access to the same perks as paying members. According to their website, the free trial “has all of the benefits of a Club membership, including the ability to shop at and use the app with the Scan & Go feature.”

This is probably your best choice if you want to shop without joining.

Utilize Their Membership Refund

Sam’s Club is quite generous when it comes to refunds, even if you’ve already used your membership. From their website:

“If at any time a member is unsatisfied with your Membership, let us know and we will cancel your membership and provide a refund of the amount paid for your current year Membership fee. There’s a limit of one Plus Membership refund per member or business per year.”

how to shop at sams club without a membership
Photo: iStock

All of this is to say, if you are willing to pay for a membership up front, you can weasel out of it later on, and even get your money back. While it might seem somewhat ethically questionable to join with the intention of later asking for a refund, it’s also a good insurance policy in case you join with the best of intentions, but are dissatisfied.

Online Guest Membership

Sam’s Club used to have a one-day guest pass to give prospective members access to the store, though the program has since been replaced by the 90-day trial. But, you can still shop as a guest online, with a few caveats.

After you select your items from their website and navigate to the checkout page, click “begin guest account.” This will allow you to complete the transaction without a membership. However, it will also add a 10% surcharge to your order. The truth is, it is probably more cost-efficient to pay for a membership in the long-run, as those surcharges add up fast.

Additionally, if you have a friend or relative with their own Sam’s Club membership, they can add you onto their subscription, giving you access to the store. However, the price of each add-on is $40, only $5 less than the typical membership fee. Again, it’s not a great alternative to just joining the club.

Free Departments

Lastly, there are a number of departments within the store that do not require membership. Anyone can patronize the Sam’ Club pharmacy, in-store café, the liquor department or the optician, whether or not they are a club member. While you’re inside, it could be a good chance to take a look around to consider whether you really want to join.

Ultimately, your best bet remains the 90-day free membership. It’s the only option that gives you full access to all the savings that the club offers, without the membership dues.


Sam’s Club

Internal Links: “Best Articles of Clothing to Buy in Bulk”