The Free Perk Sam's Club Is Ending

Since its founding in 1983, members-only warehouse chain Sam's Club has grown into one of the most successful retailers in the United States, with nearly 600 locations across 44 states and Puerto Rico. Like its rival Costco, Sam's Club is well-known for offering shoppers great deals on bulk groceries, electronics, and other household items, along with special perks like fuel discounts and access to its tire center. 

But unlike Costco, which charges $60 for a base membership, the Walmart-owned retailer offers its memberships for slightly cheaper. Sam's Club customers can choose between becoming a Club level member for $45 per year or a Plus level member for $100, the latter of which includes even more perks like cash back, pharmacy discounts, and early bird shopping hours.

Another way Sam's Club has set itself apart from Costco is the availability of its curbside pickup feature. First started in June 2020 amid growing demand for contactless shopping options during the COVID-19 pandemic, the retailer offered the service to all of its members free of charge, regardless of order size. However, some Sam's Club shoppers may be disappointed to that the chain has announced it will soon be making a major change to this exclusive perk.

Club members will now have to pay for curbside pickup

According to Business Insider, starting on June 28, regular Sam's Club members will have to pay a $4 fee per order to use the chain's curbside pickup service. A Sam's Club representative told the publication the retailer originally intended to make it an exclusive free perk for Plus Members only, but decided to expand the benefit to all members during the pandemic "as a courtesy" to ensure a safer shopping experience for all.

Two years later, with many customers returning to in-store shopping, the need for curbside pickup isn't as dire for business, so Sam's Club will move forward with charging people who wish to continue using the service. Those with Plus Memberships, however, can still enjoy the benefit at no additional cost.

Sam's Club did not elaborate on why it was choosing to end the free service now, rather than at the end of the year. But it's possible that various factors currently affecting the retail industry, including inflation and worker shortages, influenced the change. As of now, there is still no minimum purchase required to use the curbside pickup service, and it appears the $4 fee is a flat rate regardless of purchase amount. However, those who would rather not pay extra fees may consider upgrading to a Plus membership to continue using the service for free.