Which No Annual Fee Credit Card Pays 3% Cash Back on All Travel?

Sam's Club 5:3:1 Cash Back MasterCard
Equipped with chip and PIN technology

There is a rewards credit card flying under the radar that pays 5% cash back on gas3% cash back on all travel, and dining out, and 1% cash back on everything else.

Can you guess which card this is?

Here’s a hint:

  • it is a no annual fee card;
  • it requires you to be a member;
  • membership is open to everyone but costs $45.

This Card Pays Higher Cash Back on Travel Than Better Known Rewards Credit Cards

No, it is not the PenFed Premium Travel Rewards American Express Card.  The PenFed card earns 5x points on airline tickets, and 1x point on other purchases.  It offers a signup bonus of $200 after spending $2500 in the first three months and has no annual fee.

No, it is not the Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® which pays 2x points on restaurant meals and all travel expenses, and redeposits 10 percent of redeemed miles back into your account.  The Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® card offers 20,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 90 days and has no annual fee.

No, it is not the Chase Sapphire card which pays 2x points on dining, 1x points on other penes, and an extra point on hotels and air fares booked via Chase Ultimate Rewards.  The Sapphire card offers 10,000 points after spending $500 in the first 3 months and has no annual fee.

Meet the Sam’s Club 5:3:1 Cash Back MasterCard

Sam's Club 5:3:1 Cash Back MasterCard
Sam’s Club 5:3:1 Cash Back MasterCard

The Sam’s Club 5:3:1 MasterCard pays 5x points on gas purchases, 3x points on all travel, 3x points on restaurants, and 1x points on other purchases.  

I don’t know of no other no annual fee rewards credit card that pays 3 percent cash back on restaurants, hotels, rental cars, airline tickets, train tickets, buses, cruises, tours, and timeshares!  (If you have any contenders, please share in the comments.)

Some cards pay bonus points on car rental and hotels, others on restaurants or air tickets.  But the general travel rewards credit cards like the Chase Sapphire or the Barclaycard Arrival™ World MasterCard® pay 2 or 2.2 percent respectively on travel and dining.

The Sam’s Club credit card comes with the latest chip technology for added security.  The card will be PIN enabled, meaning it can be used in situations such as overseas train stations where a PIN is required.

If you apply by August 31, 2014, and you will earn a $20 statement credit after spending $50.

There is no annual fee for the card, but membership in Sam’s Club is required, and membership costs $45.  

There is a maximum of $5,000 in cash back rewards during any “reward period” which is a calendar year.  You’d have to be a real big spender to exceed that cap!

Sam's Club 5:3:1 Cash Back MasterCard
Sam’s Club 5:3:1 Cash Back MasterCard

Here are some specifics:

  • 5 percent cash back on fuel at gas stations (for the first $6,000 spent on fuel each calendar year). That’s good at all gas stations in the U.S. (except gas stations run by other warehouse clubs and super centers.) After the first $6,000 in fuel spending each year, you earn 1 percent back.
  • 3 percent cash back on restaurants worldwide (including fast food, bars, and catering, but excluding purchases at other warehouse clubs).
  • 3 percent cash back on all travel. Travel includes: rental cars; airlines; hotels; passenger rail; bus lines; cruise lines; time shares; travel agencies (although not those offered by other warehouse clubs); travel sites; and tour operators.
  • 1 percent back on all other eligible purchases.

Be sure to read the Terms and Conditions for all the details.

The Sam’s Club 5:3:1 Cash Back Credit Card Has Some Quirks

There are a few weird things about the Sam’s Club 5:3:1 card.

  • First, cash back rewards are issued just once a year in February.
  • Second, the rewards are in the form of a check made payable to Sam’s Club.
  • Third, the checks can only be cashed at a Sam’s Club.

These features are a big turn-off for me!

How to Get Sam’s Club Membership for “Free”

The usual cost of membership in Sam’s Club is $45 per year.

Several times a year you can find special offers for Sam’s Club membership via Groupon.

These limited time offers typically cost $45 and include an annual membership, a $20 Sam’s Club gift card, and a voucher for about $30 in foodstuff — like a roasted chicken, dinner rolls, apple pie, etc.  You also get a new member coupon book.  In other words, the cost of the membership is “free,” but you are paying $45 for Sam’s Club food and other merchandise.

A membership obtained through a special offer on Groupon would give you eligibility for the Sam’s Club MasterCard.

Here’s an example of such a Groupon offer, now expired.

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Does this offer hold any appeal for you?

Personally, I have a small family so I don’t shop at Sam’s Club, but I do like to travel!

The Sam’s Club card offers a sign-up bonus of only $20, and I prefer to go for cards that offer bonuses of $400 or above, like the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard®.  If I was spending a ton on travel, or had a big event coming up that required catering, I would give this card greater consideration.  

 

 

4 thoughts on “Which No Annual Fee Credit Card Pays 3% Cash Back on All Travel?

  1. Sure wish there was a Sam’s Club near me but we only have Costco. Their True Earnings Amex is not as good in terms of the multiple. Great post.

  2. I was pretty excited about this offer because of the chip and pin technology We travel to England several times a year and it would make life easier than the chip and signature cards we have currently. Since I already have a Sam’s membership, there would be no additional cost. However, I decided against it when I found that it had a 3% foreign transaction fee. Darn.

    • A 3 percent foreign transaction fee would obviate the benefit of the chip and pin.

      I did read somewhere that the big box stores in the U.S. will be gearing up for chip cards.

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