Posted by Chuck on May 7, 2015
AmEx Offers

Published on May 7th, 2015 | by Chuck

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All You Need to Know About the Sam’s Club Amex Offer – Q&A

Once in a while we get an Amex Offer which is particularly worthwhile. Often these offers are targeted, such as the free $25 at Costco. We were lucky to get the recent free $20 at Sam’s Club offer which was available to all in the Amex login and via Twitter. This helps us get the offer on third-party Amex cards and on Serve/Bluebird. (It may also be possible to get Amex Offers directly in your Bluebird/Serve account as well.)

We decided to lay out in Q-A format everything you need to know about it, being that this offer is literally free money. There are also additional complications in using this offer which we’ll discuss in this post.

Offer Credits

Can I get the offer credit by shopping in a Sams Club store?

No, it only valid at samsclub.com. You can, however, buy a Sams gift card online and then use it in-store. More on that below.

Can I order something online and pickup in-club so as to save the shipping fee?

Based on the Terms of the offer, if you pay for the order online it would work. In practice, however, it’s reported that there’s no way to order/pay online and pick up in-club. In-club pickups are automatically paid for at the time of pickup.

How long do I have to use this offer?

Until 9/30/15.

Note that the charge has to post by that date. Be sure to order at least a few days before then to give time for the order to process. We wrote more about this here.

Are the credits posting automatically? Some people mentioned that their purchases are being coded as Photo which isn’t eligible for the offer credit?

Yes, we’ve written before that numerous reports are confirming that the offer credit is posting. While it’s initially coming up as Photo, it switches over to SamsClub and gets the offer credit. Some are not seeing the Photo to begin with, but all are seeing it ultimately post as SamsClub, without the Photo category.

Are gift cards working as well?

Yes, numerous reports indicate that third-party gift cards are working to trigger the offer credit. I personally got credits for Mastercard gift cards.

It’s now been confirmed that Sam’s Club gift cards will automatically trigger the offer credit as well.

E-gift card credits have posted as well.

Note that since there’s nothing in the Terms that suggests that gift cards won’t work, you’ll be able to contact Amex if there’s a problem and have them apply the credit manually, see Amex Offer Credit Not Posting, What to Do?

Does the $20 fee include any shipping fees or other fees?

Yes. As always, so long as the final charge – the charge which shows on the credit card statement – is $20 it will be eligible for the credit.

I placed an order two days ago. Is there any way of telling if I’ll get the credit? I’m a little nervous.

Originally the typical ‘Congrats’ emails from Amex were not coming. That’s now been fixed and most people are getting the confirmation emails from Amex immediately when using the offer. These emails aren’t 100% reliable though; don’t worry much if the email doesn’t come.

Pro tip: If you check your Amex Offer tab in your online login, you’ll see a “Savings” tab which will show you all the Amex Offers you’ve saved with. It typically shows up in that tab a day before it actually posts to the account, which can help placate your nerves.

I signed up my Bluebird/Serve cards for this offer via Twitter, but when I look at the Saved Offers in my Bluebird/Serve login it’s not there!

We’ve noted before that the online Amex Offer tab with Bluebird/Serve isn’t entirely up to date. Hopefully, they’ll fix this eventually.

Can I still sign up my card for the Sams offer?

No, the offer is no longer available for signup.

Sam’s Club Membership

Do I need to be a Sam’s Club member to order from Samsclub.com?

Yes, but they allow guests to get a 24-hour pass which they can use. (Once you use it once, you won’t be able to get another 24-hour pass with the same email address/account.) At checkout, they’ll give you the option of guest checkout and they’ll prompt you to enter your name, address, etc.

There is, however, a 10% fee that guest need to pay. For example, if you make a $20 purchase you’ll pay $22.

Do gift cards have the 10% surcharge as well?

Yes, all gift cards have the surcharge as well.

Any way around the 10% fee without buying membership?

Yes. If you have a friend or family member who will let you use their account, you can order by adding your credit card to their account (click ‘don’t save card info’ when adding the card) and putting in your address as the shipping address. As far as I know, this wouldn’t be against any rule or moral code.

Any ideas for someone who doesn’t have a friend who is a member?

There is another idea you can do if you’re comfortable with it: Sam’s doesn’t charge a 10% fee for residents of California, South Carolina, and Elmsford, NY. If you can produce an address from these areas and register you guest account with that address, you’ll have 24 hours to shop without a surcharge.

No need to have the orders shipped to California. So long as you registered with that address there’s no surcharge. Be careful, however, when placing orders to change the shipping address to your own.

Some people just used the address of a random hotel they found. I was more comfortable using the address of a friend; in case something goes wrong I have a backup. (One report indicates that they may be cracking down on this. We still need more data points to confirm this.)

I created my account using my ordinary address. Now I switched over my address to CA, but the 10% surcharge is still showing. Why?

It appears that the surcharge is dependent on the original address and changing it won’t help. Not that this makes tons of sense, that’s just the way it is.

That sounds like an awesome hack. Any reason I should buy membership and not use that hack?

A few reasons:

  • If you don’t have any CA address that you can use and you have many registered Amex cards.
  • If want to buy e-gift cards you need to be a real member, see What to Buy below.
  • If you plan on buying Sams gift cards and then using those in-store at Sams then you’ll need a membership to get in.
  • Many of the gift card options are sold out online. With membership you should be able to find some good options in-store.
  • If you like being normal…

How much does membership cost?

$45.

You can also add a second household member free.

Any way to get membership cheaper?

Here’s a few different ideas:

  • There was a Groupon deal which gave an added $20 Sams gift card (among other benefits) when paying the $45 membership fee. Since this $20 Sams deal is around for a while (until 9/30/15), it could make sense to wait a month or two and see if another deal comes up on Groupon or elsewhere.
  • There’s a special deal for military members and their families.
  • There’s currently a refer-a-friend program running which will give the referrer and the referee a $10 Sam’s gift card for becoming a member, details here.
  • There’s an offer you can find in your Discover account to get a $10-25 gift card for signing up or renewing a Sam’s membership in-club, details here.
  • You can also buy the membership with the Amex Offer to get it almost free, more details on this below.

What to Buy

What’s the best things to buy at Sams?

If you buy ordinary products there’ll be a shipping fee on many products. (Some products don’t have a shipping fee.) Additionally, it will be hard to get the charges to be exactly $20 each. Best bet is to buy gift cards.

Yeah, but won’t I be losing out on portal cashback if I buy gift cards?

Good point, you can get 4-5% cashback by going through a portal, and it’s highly unlikely that gift cards will trigger the cashback. That said, it may still be easier to just buy Sams gift cards in $40 or $50 increments (as explained below). You can then make larger orders of regular products and go through a portal for the extra cashback.

I believe you can use 4 gift cards per order plus 2 credit cards. So you should be able to make a $240 order and pay $200 with gift cards (4 x $50) and the last $40 split between 2 Amex cards.

Which gift cards should I buy?

There are three strategies here:

  • Buy Sams gift cards. Originally, it was possible to buy Sam’s gift cards in $20 or $40 denominations. That is no longer possible and the lowest denomination is $50. This means that you’ll be adding $10 of your own money after putting 2 x $20 on your Amex cards (as outlined below). Sams gift cards can be used at Walmart as well or can be sold for around 90% of their value. If you shop in Walmart then buying Sams gift cards would be best since you’ll be getting the full $20 value from the offer.
  • Buy third-party gift cards at Sams. Interestingly, Sams actually sells many third-party gift cards at a slightly discounted rate. Some options include Southwest, Starbucks and lots of restaurant gift cards. Some restaurant gift cards are even 20% discounted, though most are just a few percent off. There’s also a current deal for a $50 Fandango e-gift card for $37.88.

There are rumors that the $45 Sams membership gifts function as ordinary Sam’s/Walmart gift card. This may be  true. In any case, we’d recommend just buying the $50 denomination and taking the $5 hit so as not to get on Sam’s bad side.

UPDATE:

I heard that Sam’s is charging a shipping fee for Sam’s gift cards and for Visa/MC/Amex gift cards?

They were charging that at one point, but luckily that’s changed and you can now get those with no shipping fee.

I tried buying an e-gift card to a restaurant and the system didn’t let. What gives?

The system doesn’t allow guest-checkouts to buy e-gift cards, even within the 24-hour window of their temporary membership and even with adding a 10% surcharge. If you have real membership, you shouldn’t have a problem.

How fast will my gift card order ship? 

The third-party gift cards (including Visa/Mastercard gift cards) and e-gift cards are being processed and shipped quickly, within a day or two. Sam’s gift cards were originally going slowly but may be going faster now.

The charge probably won’t post to your account from Sams until it ships and you won’t get the Offer credit appearing in the account until a day or two after it posts.

Can I buy a Sams e-gift card instead of a physical card?

No. While they do sell e-gift cards to other merchants, they don’t sell Sams e-gift cards.

I have an order of $19.99. Is there any filler item I can use to push me over $20?

There is a pen for $1.38 and a pack of pens for $1.78. Bear in mind that there’ll be a shipping fee for all items besides gift cards.

Is there any small gift cards I can buy as a filler?

The smallest seems to be ~$10. No $5 found.

If I order gift cards, do they get mailed active or does it need to be activated?

The third party gift cards come preactivated (at least if these denominations that we are ordering). The Sam’s gift cards seem to be coming preactivated as well, although others report having to activate them via a link they received in an email. See this post from FreequentFlyer for exact details on how to go about activating the cards.

Will Sams make problems for multiple orders created on the same day? I have lots of Amex cards and just 24-hours to use them all!

If Walmart.com is any indication, I’m optimistic. They seem to be fine with many small order gift cards done on the same day. I’ve done 10 or so in one day. Of course, it could still depend how many Amex cards you have…

Some people had problems making tons of orders. We recommend doing 5-10 at a time and waiting a few days before doing more.

Checkout

Do I really have to make 10 separate orders for my 10 Amex cards? No way to do it all in one order?

It’s been pointed out that Sams allows splitting an online purchase on two credit cards, so you can buy $40 of items and split the charge $20 and $20. Or buy a $50 Sams gift card and split the payment between two Amex cards.

I don’t see the split charge option anywhere?

Use the ‘Add card’ option to add two cards to your Sams account, ‘check’ both of the cards, then click ‘continue’. The system will produce a pop up asking you how you want to split the charge.

When I add my card the system blanks out on me?

Yeah, I had this problem a couple of times and so did many others. Just get back to your cart and re-add the card to your Sams account.

I have many Amex cards and some of the cards share the last 4-digits. How can I tell which card is which?

I recommend unchecking the ‘save this card’ option to make it less confusing.

[There’s another reason to do this since Walmart.com has been known to confuse two cards which had the same 4-digit ending. This happened to me and was confirmed by a few others.]

I added this offer to my Bluebird/Serve card. Do I need to have an extra $1 in the account for a temporary authorization?

No, they don’t do any temporary authorization, so you should be okay with $20 exactly.

Is there any way for me to split the $45 membership fee between 2 Amex cards?

Yes, here’s what to do: Attempt a purchase on Samclub.com (any purchase) and the system will add the $45 membership fee by default. Delete the item you had in the cart and just pay the $45 membership fee. This way the system will allow you to split the membership fee between two cards. I’d think that the membership purchase will count to trigger the offer credit.

Reader Input: Are there any other questions about the Amex Offer at Sams Club that we missed? Please comment below.



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Ted
Ted

Nice post! I placed a few orders on 5/4. Amex metal cards showed “Sam’s Club ONLINE”, but FIA Amex & Amex Serve still showed “Sam’s Club Online Photo”.

Also, how long does it take for Sam’s club gift cards to ship? Mine are still processing…

Chris L
Chris L

It’s taking 2 days for the statement credit to appear…And no congrats email from Amex.

Parkerthon
Parkerthon

I’m still waiting on confirmation that Sam’s Club online A) Ships a gift card finally B) Amex offer is triggered. I placed my $40 test order Sunday and still it sits in processing. Quite annoyed but maybe they got rushed by this offer.

I’d be greatly appreciative if anyone finally gets a shipping confirmation and/or amex offer credit for buying Sams GC’s to post a data point here. If it’s confirmed working I’ll likely go ahead and run the rest of my cards and get these orders in the queue so hopefully I get them by Christmas. 🙂 Thanks DoC community.

AU1
AU1

Phenomenal write-up. Thank you.

BowTie
BowTie

For a second, I thought I was reading a post by Bowtie and Emily. Glad to see everyone’s jumping in on the circles and arrows bandwagon. Not sure how this post is a prescription for healthy credit though.

oatmeal
oatmeal

will CB portals pay on GC orders ?

bob
bob

Sam’s Club $20 credit posted today for 3 cards, each for $25(cost$2.xx) Starbucks gift card purchased May 1. each was initially listed as Sam’s photo,, not samsclub.com,,, but posted as samsclub.com

Glenn
Glenn

Placed a number of $40 Sams Club Gift Card orders. About 25% of them were flagged and I got an email saying I needed to call in to verify some information. Not a big deal, but it took a few minutes.

David Levitz
David Levitz

How are people getting 10 of these offers?

Dan
Dan

Thanks for the split tender tip! That makes this deal even better

cody
cody

Do I have to go to a store to activate the membership?

Kris
Kris

Can I buy 4 x $20 Sams Club Gift Cards and then use them to buy VGC at Walmart?

Neil
Neil

This is a fantastically useful post. I saw the $20 offer and saved it to 5 of my cards figuring I’d later see if they were useable. I spent a few minutes browsing the samsclub website and noted the guest surcharge and the gift card availability but that’s as far as I got. Then along comes this post – timely and thorough. Thanks!

Lyn
Lyn

Excellent info! Thanks so much.

Jen
Jen

Is it possible to use a friends Sams account to avoid the 10% surcharge? Or is there some protection that only cards with the account holders name on it will work?

Do the Sams account name and the card account name have to match?

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