Secret Sam's Club Deals You'll Wish You Knew Sooner

Sam's Club has long been popular with bargain hunters. Sure, not everything on offer is always a great deal, especially for solo shoppers not needing groceries by the pallet; plus, they're not the greatest place to buy OTC meds, skincare products, and clothing. Shopping at Sam's may also not be for you if you get kind of creeped out by having somebody scan your receipt and check your cart before they let you walk out the door. Still, millions of people continue to shell out the big (ok, medium) bucks for a Sam's Club membership each year, and they can't all be doing it solely for the food court (although they do whip up a mean pizza pretzel).

Sam's Club does offer some pretty great deals on groceries, basic household supplies, booze, prescription meds, and tires. Chances are, Sam's is never going to be your one-stop shop for everything you need, at least not if you're committed to seeking out the best bargains, since in many cases you'll be better off shopping at their less-exclusive, fee-free sister store Walmart, or even rock-bottom retailer Dollar Tree. If you're already in possession of a Sam's Club card, however, you might as well use it, but if you bone up on a few tips and tricks ahead of time you can make the most out of your membership. Super shopper Amanda Seymour is here to help us out by sharing her savings expertise as she does with her nearly 2,500 Instagram followers.

You can (basically) get a membership for free

How would you like to become a member of the oh-so-exclusive Sam's Club without paying a single cent? Well, you can, more or less. Yes, there's always a "less," meaning that if you are entirely without coin, this deal's not for you. If, however, you can afford to fork over the entire $45 fee but are just not sure that it will be worth it since you're unlikely to be a frequent Sam's shopper, consider waiting until October. AT this time of year, Seymour tells us, Sam's Club "always run[s] a promotion that allows you to sign up for a Sam's Club membership for $45 PLUS you get $45 back on a Sam's Club gift card." This, as she tells us, essentially " mak[es] your membership free for that year."

This promo can be found online, perhaps on the Sam's Club website, or maybe in a paper mailer, though it won't be available in-store just by asking as the deal requires a specific access code that you'll need to provide upon signing up. If you're having no luck finding such a deal, be sure to check Groupon and LivingSocial since they frequently offer deals on Sam's Club memberships. Membership for below retail (or even free) is one of the most popular of Sam's Club hacks, and for good reason – even if you hardly ever shop at Sam's, you still haven't wasted your money.

They have some pretty sweet sales

Seymour tells us that Sam's Club will often put online grocery items on clearance. She says "you can usually pick up 'season items' (such as holiday candy, cereal, etc) for a super low price," and offers, as an example, a 5-pound bag of Halloween candy, adding that "you'd be surprised that it's $2.75 [online] the day after the holiday."

Another tip offered by Seymour is the fact that Sam's Clubs will offer "instant savings" both online and in-store. She says that the ads they send out, both via print and email, will tell you what items will be on sale each week, but notes that they also have a number of unadvertised offers. "This means," she says, that "you might find a 10 lb bag of flour on for $8.96 but there is an instant savings tag above the item for an additional $3!" Plus, sales tag spotting sounds like it could be pretty fun, too – like hunting for Easter eggs, only instead of getting a plastic egg full of jellybeans you get a few bucks worth of savings instead. Very cool!

They're a great place to buy gift cards

One of the lesser-known facts about Sam's Club is that they are often able to sell gift cards for other retailers or service providers (restaurants, movie theaters, etc.) for less than face value. You will most likely have to purchase these in multiples, but you can save a significant amount. At present, Sam's website lists 4 $25 Chili's gift cards (a $100 value) selling for just $85.98, while 2 $50 Texas De Brazil gift cards will set you back just $75 for a 25 percent discount. (Texas De Brazil is one of those rodizio-style Brazilian steakhouses – in other words, an absolute carnivore's paradise offering all-you-can-eat delicious meat!)

If that wasn't enough good news, Seymour says, wait, there's more. "Around Black Friday, she tells us, " they have a gift card sale to almost anyplace you can think of!" She goes on to say that "During this time you get gift cards for 25 [percent] off!" Sounds like if you eat out or go to the movies a lot, these savings alone just might make Sam's Club worth the price of admission.