How Sam's Club card changes affect business users


Your Business Credit
Elaine Pofeldt is a journalist whose articles on entrepreneurship and careers have appeared in Fortune, Working Mother, Money and many other publications. She is a former senior editor at Fortune Small Business magazine and an entrepreneur herself, as co-founder of, a website for independent professionals. She writes "Your Business Credit," a weekly column about small business and credit, for

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Question Dear Your Business Credit,
We're looking for credit cards for salesmen as well as two owners. We're looking to consolidate gas cards and to find more usage capabilities than our current Discover Card, which isn't accepted at many businesses.

APR and airline miles are of no concern; however, cash back of 1.5 percent or better would be great. We purchase supplies from Sam's Club. That's why we have our current card. Your help will be appreciated. -- Ralph

Answer Dear Ralph,
I'm assuming you want to continue to purchase your supplies from Sam's Club. If so, you may not have to do a lot of shopping around. Sam's Club has begun transitioning its members from the Sam's Club Discover Card to co-branded MasterCards that, it says, will improve the cash-back program for the majority of its members. With costs on the rise for many business owners and gas averaging $3.64 a gallon, better rewards could make a real difference in your budget.

The new card is likely to arrive in your mailbox any day, if it hasn't since you wrote to us. As of July 1, Sam's Club has been sending members a new Sam's Club MasterCard; it expects to deliver all of the new cards by Aug. 30, 2014.

Sam's Club is currently replacing the Sam's Club Discover card with a new Sam's Club MasterCard. If you activate the Sam's Club MasterCard, your Sam's Club Discover card will be deactivated. (All Sam's Club Discover cards will be phased out after Feb. 28, 2015.) Sam's Club originally introduced the Sam's Club Discover cards for businesses and consumers in 2005. At the time, Sam's Club announced that Plus members would get up to 2 percent cash back on every purchase made, anywhere Discover cards were accepted; for Advantage and Business members, there was 1 percent cash back.

The new Sam's Club MasterCard, which comes with no annual fee, can be used anywhere MasterCard is accepted. It comes with extended warranty coverage for consumers and extended warranty insurance for businesses.

Whether you continue to use your Sam's Club Discover or switch immediately to the Sam's Club MasterCard, you will earn cash back on purchases posted to your account under a new "5-3-1" program. In some categories of purchases, the cash back is more than the 1.5 percent you are seeking. Sam's Club announced in early June that members will be able to earn 5 percent cash back on fuel, 3 percent cash back on dining and travel and 1 percent cash back on all other purchases, up to $5,000 annually.

As of June 12, all Sam's Plus members were automatically enrolled in the new Plus-only Cash Rewards program. They will receive $10 in Cash Rewards for every $500 spent on qualifying pretax Sam's Club purchases, regardless of the type of payment used. They will be able to earn up to $500 annually, in addition to the $5,000 cash back in the 5-3-1 program. If you are a Sam's Plus member, you can get cash, redeem the money for purchases in the club or on, or to cover annual membership fees.

I should point out that Discover is more widely accepted than you may think. In 2010, the company said it had a 90 percent acceptance rate at merchants that also accept Visa and MasterCard.

However, if Discover isn't accepted at merchants you patronize, then that's a real inconvenience. That gives you a good reason to switch over early to MasterCard, which says it is the most widely accepted card in the world.

See related: Compare rewards cards for business gas spending, How to pick the best rewards card for your business

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Published: July 14, 2014

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