When The Simpsons visited a warehouse store for the first time, Marge announced that at last, she had at last found a great price for 12 pounds of nutmeg.
The point is that warehouse stores offer great prices, but maybe not for the stuff we actually need.
BJ’s is a warehouse store that has 206 locations and 119 gas stations in 15 states. In addition to offering great deals on nutmeg, it now offers two different credit cards. But how good are they? And how do they stack up to warehouse cards from Costco and Sam’s Club?
BJ’s Perks Plus and Perks Elite
The Perks Plus card offers cardholders 3 percent cash back on BJs purchases, a 10-cents-a-gallon discount on BJs gas, 2 percent cash back on dining and other gas purchases, and 1 percent cash back on all other transactions. You also get a $25 sign-up bonus and a $10 discount on your annual $50 membership fee.
Moving up to the BJ’s Perks Elite card and you will get 5 percent off of BJs purchases and a $25 annual discount on the $100 membership fee. So considering the higher rate of return and the bigger discount on purchases, those who spend about $1,200 or more each year at BJs will be better off with the Elite card rather than the Plus card.
Costco TrueEarnings from American Express
The Costco TrueEarnings card offers 3 percent cash back at U.S. gas stations and on gasoline at Costco, on up to $4,000 per year in purchases. (After that, it’s 1 percent). You also get 2 percent cash back at restaurants and on eligible travel purchases, and 1 percent cash back on other purchases, including at Costco.
Frankly, it’s strange that a retailer’s rewards card doesn’t offer bonus rewards for shopping there — which is usually the point of offering a rewards card! Nevertheless, the savings on gas are better than BJ’s when gas costs more than $3.33 per gallon. Yet unlike the BJ’s card, there’s no annual fee when cardholders have a paid Costco membership.
Sam’s Club Mastercard
Not to be left out, Walmart’s warehouse offshoot Sam’s Club has a Mastercard that offers 5 percent cash back on gasoline purchased from Sam’s Club (on up to $6,000 spent each year, then it falls to 1 percent). You also get 3 percent on dining and travel and 1 percent on all other transactions. There’s no annual fee.
Which is best?
For gas purchases, the Sam’s Club card comes out best with a 5 percent discount, although BJ’s would be superior if gas prices somehow fall below $2 per gallon.
At the same time, the BJ’s card is the most conventional, in that it offers a significant discount of 5 percent when shopping at BJs stores. Amazingly, the Costco and Sam’s Club cards don’t offer more than 1 percent for in-store purchases. So the BJ’s card seems to be the most competitve offer of the three in that regard, so long as you overlook the annual fee.
In the end, devotees of one of these stores are unlikely to change their allegiance based on a credit card.
Since I didn’t find any of these three cards to be that great, most shoppers will be better off sticking with a card that offers 2 percent cash back or flexible points that can be transferred to airline miles.