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What We Missed Out On Without Good Sam

What We Missed Out On Without Good Sam


avatar   Stacy
Trip Date 06/01/2021
Posted On 06/16/2021 09:13:16

United States | Canada | Camping | Campgrounds | RV Parks | RV Resorts | RVing | Good Sam | Benefits | Discount Camping Clubs | Camping Discounts | Save Money | Is Good Sam Worth It



From KOA to Good Sam and Harvest Hosts to Passport America, there are so many choices when it comes to discount camping clubs. With all of the options advertised to save money on camping fees, each with different "rules", it can be hard to decide which (and how many) memberships to purchase based on your RVing or camping style. If you have thought about becoming a Good Sam member, this article will help to answer your questions about whether or not it will be a good investment.

After a summary of the cost and benefits, we provide an overview of how to use Good Sam to take advantage of camping discounts and more in the United States and Canada. We even include an actual cost vs. benefit analysis from our experience after just one year as Good Sam members. You'll be able to see which campgrounds, RV parks and RV resorts we stayed at with our membership as well as how much money we saved. Before we wrap up with our "Is Good Sam worth it?" verdict, we also reveal the positives and negatives of being a member - plus what we missed out on during our years without a membership!

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Cost of a Good Sam Membership

Barring any discount that may be offered, a Good Sam membership comes at a cost of $29.00 for one year. Longer term memberships are available as follows:

  • 2 Year Membership: $55.00 (a $3.00 savings; includes a merchandise certificate in the amount of $15.00 good at Camping World, Gander Outdoors, and Overton's);
  • 3 Year Elite Membership: $79.00 ($8.00 savings; $30.00 merchandise certificate valid at the same three merchants included);


    Good Sam 3 Year Elite Membership

    Good Sam 3 Year Elite Membership

  • Good Sam RV Elite 3 Year Membership: Free with purchase of an RV from Camping World or Gander; and
  • Life Membership: $499.00 (frequently offered at a sale price of $399.00).

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Benefits of Good Sam

Most RVers purchase a membership for the 10% discount off of the regular nightly camping rate at Good Sam RV Parks and Campgrounds. The Good Sam website search includes 2,100+ locations in 49 of the 50 states within the United States (every state except Hawaii). There's also participating campgrounds in the District of Columbia and Canada.


Cape Camping & RV Park

Cape Camping & RV Park

In addition to the savings on camping, members are eligible for:

  • Discounts on most purchases at Camping World and Gander RV & Outdoors (In addition to discounts on retail items, a 15% discount on propane and free boat or RV dump stations are available as select locations);
  • Free shipping on online orders greater than $49.00 at Camping World, Gander and Overton's; and
  • A savings of $0.05 per gallon on gasoline and $0.08 per gallon on diesel at Pilot and Flying J stations.

There's some additional advertised benefits for all levels of membership that include a Trip Planner and Campground & Coupon Guide that we didn't make use of during our first year as members. Elite members also have access to perks including a troubleshooting helpline, savings on some installation fees and admission for 2 to Good Sam RV Shows (that we also haven't yet made use of).

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How Good Sam Works

Although taking advantage of member discounts is easy, it does differ slightly depending on the discount type:

Campgrounds and RV Parks

Good Sam members can find campgrounds in either the Campground Guide (available for sale at a discount for members), by doing an online query at goodsam.com or using the Good Sam app. Online searches must include a state (or province) and, if desired, a specific city or zip code.

Search results will include Good Sam member and/or non-member campgrounds, depending on the chosen option. To help narrow down the number of campgrounds, users also have multiple options to refine and/or sort their search results (distance, ratings, features, amenities, etc.). Both a listing of campgrounds matching the search criteria as well as a map view are available.


Abilene RV Park

Abilene RV Park

Once a campground is selected, the process for making the actual reservation is determined by the park itself. In addition to calling the park directly to request a reservation for specific dates, typical options include book now and request reservation. When available, upon selecting "book now", either the park's standard booking engine or the Good Sam booking engine will launch and a reservation can be completed online. (It goes without saying that all reservations are subject to availability.)

It is important to always include your Good Sam member number when making an online or telephone reservation. Most campgrounds will also require that members present their personalized member card at check in.


Feeding the Miniature Ponies at Johnson Creek RV Resort

Feeding the Miniature Ponies at Johnson Creek RV Resort

Pilot and Flying J

Whether paying at the pump or paying an attendant inside of a participating Pilot or Flying J location, getting your discount requires two swipes. Follow the on-screen prompts and, when requested, swipe your payment card. Continue to follow prompts and when asked for a loyalty card, swipe your Good Sam membership card. Upon completion of both swipes, the price displayed on the pump will be reduced.

Camping World, Gander and Overton's

When inside a Camping World, Gander or Overton's retail store, either show your Good Sam membership card or provide the phone number associated with your membership to the cashier. Any eligible discounts will be automatically applied and reflected on your sales receipt.

By logging into your Good Sam account, your discount will be applied to online purchases. To log in directly from any of the three retail websites, all you need to input is your member number, last name and zip code.

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Example of Savings with Good Sam

It's very simple! In most cases, you get a 10% discount off of the standard daily rate. For example, the nightly rate for pull-through sites during September, October and November at Perdido Key RV Resort & Marina in Pensacola, Florida was $90.00 plus tax. With our Good Sam membership, the 10% discount reduced the before tax rate to $81.00 for each of our five-nights during our November stay. That was a total savings of $45.00 - plus a little savings on sales tax as well!


Thanksgiving Day at Perdido Key RV Resort & Marina

Thanksgiving Day at Perdido Key RV Resort & Marina

Based on the $29.00 rate for a one year membership, a four night stay at this one park would make a Good Sam membership worth the purchase price.

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Cost vs. Benefit Comparison of Our Good Sam Membership

The easiest way to compare the cost vs. benefits is to share a real life example of having a Good Sam membership. In May 2020, we began planning a summer RV trip to South Dakota. We had an active Passport America membership, however didn't find any participating campgrounds that met our needs. Our online search led us to Custer's Gulch, a Good Sam member park.


Our First Good Sam Stay at Custer's Gulch

Our First Good Sam Stay at Custer's Gulch

We quickly realized that a Good Sam membership would be a good investment. With a 10% discount on the standard nightly rate, we would save over $48.00 on a six-night stay. After reviewing the options, we decided that it made the most sense to purchase a 3 Year Elite Membership at the price of $79.00. With the $48.00 savings on our first stay plus $30.00 in coupons good in the retail stores, we felt confident that we would, at minimum, break even. After all, we only needed to save one more dollar in the next 3 years!

We purchased our Good Sam membership online on May 27, 2020. Almost immediately, we received an email with our membership information. This allowed us to begin making reservations for future camping.

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Campgrounds and RV Parks

Because of the 50% discount, we typically start by searching for campgrounds that are a member of the Passport America program. Depending on the terms and conditions, availability and reviews reviews, we often have to expand our search. That's usually when we switch over to the Good Sam app.

Here's a list of the campgrounds / RV parks where we have used our Good Sam discount during our first year as members. You'll find the number of days that we stayed as well as the total discount that we received:

  • July 28, 2020 at Custer's Gulch in Custer, South Dakota: $48.14 savings on 6 nights;
  • August 6, 2020 at Sleepy Hollow Campground & RV Park in Wall, South Dakota: $9.00 savings on 2 nights;
  • August 15, 2020 at Spruce Lake RV Park in Estes Park, Colorado: $45.00 savings on 10 nights;


    Scott in our Rental Car at Spruce Lake RV Park

    Scott in our Rental Car at Spruce Lake RV Park

  • August 31, 2020 at Big Texan RV Ranch in Amarillo, Texas: $12.60 savings on 3 nights;
  • November 20, 2020 at Frog City RV Park near Lafayette, Louisiana: $7.00 savings on 2 nights;


    Frog City RV Park

    Frog City RV Park

  • November 22, 2020 at Perdido Key RV Resort near Pensacola, Florida: $45.00 savings on 5 nights;
  • December 8, 2020 at Paradise Island RV Resort in Fort Lauderdale, Florida: $24.00 savings on 7 of 18 total nights;
  • January 19, 2021 at Stone Mountain Family Campground in Stone Mountain, Georgia: $17.30 on 4 nights;


    Stone Mountain Family Campground

    Stone Mountain Family Campground

  • February 1, 2021 at Nature's Own RV Resort in Kingsville, Texas: $4.00 savings on 1 night;
  • May 21, 2021 at Cape Camping & RV Park in Cape Girardeau, Missouri: $18.00 savings on 4 nights; and
  • May 25, 2021 at Cave Country RV Campground near Kentucky's Mammoth Cave National Park: $19.60 savings on 4 nights.


    Cave Country RV Campground

    Cave Country RV Campground

The sum of the total savings that we received in our first 12 months was $249.64 - well more than our $79.00 initial investment.

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Knowing that we would want to evaluate whether or not we should "renew" our membership, we meticulously kept a list of where we used our discount and how much we saved. During the past year, we learned that there are a number of campgrounds that offer the 10% discount to Good Sam members as well as AAA members. Since we already had a AAA membership, we didn't include the 10% savings that we received at the campgrounds offering both, as we didn't need Good Sam for the discount.

Here's a list of the additional campgrounds / RV parks where we camped that offered a 10% discount to both Good Sam and AAA members:

  • August 10, 2020 at High Plains RV Resort in Oakley, Kansas: $8.80 saving on 2 nights;
  • August 25, 2020 at Foot of the Rockies RV Park in Colorado Springs, Colorado: $5.20 savings on 1 of 3 nights;


    Foot of the Rockies RV Park

    Foot of the Rockies RV Park

  • August 28, 2020 at Blanca RV Park in Blanca, Colorado: $8.40 savings on 3 nights;
  • September 3, 2020 at Abilene RV Park in Abilene, Texas: $8.00 savings on 2 nights;
  • October 10, 2020 at Holiday Palms RV Park in Quartzite, Arizona: $10.80 savings on 3 nights;


    Holiday Palms RV Park

    Holiday Palms RV Park

  • October 27, 2020 at Johnson Creek RV Resort in Ingram, Texas: $6.00 savings on 1 of 3 nights;
  • January 7, 2021 at Stagecoach RV Park in St. Augustine, Florida: $26.79 savings on 4 nights; and
  • January 23, 2021 at Emerald Beach RV Park in Navarre, Florida: $28.50 savings on 5 nights.


    Ready to Cook Breakfast at Emerald Beach RV Park

    Ready to Cook Breakfast at Emerald Beach RV Park

Had we not already had a AAA membership, our Good Sam membership would have provided an additional savings of $102.49 during our first year as members.

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Pilot and Flying J

We've used our Good Sam discount just over ten times to save five cents per gallon on gas. When it's nearing time to fill-up, we pretty much always start with a search in the Gas Buddy app. Once we know the cheapest rate, we look around for a station on or near our driving route.

Sometimes there's a Pilot or Flying J that wins our business - but only when their discounted price beats the regular price of their competitors! During our first year as Good Sam members, our savings on gas has totaled $9.01. While nine dollars is not a huge savings, every dollar saved helps to make our membership worthwhile.

Camping World, Gander and Overton's

We've saved $40.64 combined on four purchases made at Camping World and Gander retail stores. While that may sound like a lot, most of the savings was thanks to the $30.00 merchandise certificate that we received with our three year membership. My guess is that our savings in the upcoming two years will be less than $10.00 per year. (There's not always a convenient retail store when we need something for our RV. Additionally, while some of their prices are competitive, we do find many items to be priced higher than at other places.)

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After deducting the $79.00 upfront cost of our 3 Year Good Sam Elite Membership, our net savings from camping and fuel discounts plus retail purchases was $220.29. (Including the campgrounds that also offered the same 10% discount to AAA members, our savings was $322.78.) Plus - we still have another 2 years remaining on our membership!

The Positives and Negatives of Joining Good Sam

As with almost everything, there are some plusses and minuses.

On the Plus Side

After just one year as Good Sam members, here's what we like the most:

  • We have had good success with finding participating campgrounds.
  • Member campgrounds and RV parks are often nicer than other nearby campgrounds due to Good Sam member park qualifications.


    Big Texan RV Ranch

    Big Texan RV Ranch

  • Good Sam Park Ratings can be helpful when comparing the amenities, cleanliness and environment at campgrounds.
  • Overall, we like the Good Sam website and app with available search functions.
  • Participating campgrounds have far fewer terms and conditions than with some other programs (like Passport America).
  • For longer stays, a limited number of campgrounds allow campers to take advantage of both Passport America and Good Sam discounts. (For example, we were able to use the 50% Passport America discount for 7 nights and 10% Good Sam discount for an additional 7 nights of our 18 night stay at Paradise Island RV Resort.)


    Paradise Island RV Resort

    Paradise Island RV Resort

  • Fuel savings and discounts offered at retail stores all contribute to memberships being "savings positive".

On the Downside

Based on our experience, here's a couple of negatives that we have found:

  • The reservation process is not streamlined - some parks can be reserved through the Good Sam reservation system, some through proprietary systems, some require phone calls, etc.
  • We receive a LOT of emails with advertisements for services offered by Good Sam and their partner companies. (We received 40+ e-mails with various offers during one membership month.)

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What We Missed Out On During 3 Years Without Good Sam?

At the point that we knew that we could save money with a Good Sam membership, we purchased one. But, I thought it would be interesting to see if it would have made sense to purchase a membership earlier. Excluding campgrounds that offer discounts to both Good Sam and AAA members, here's what we missed out on without a membership:

  • October 22, 2018 at Spanish Trail RV Park in Moab, Utah: $23.50 savings on 4 nights;


    All Set Up at Spanish Trail RV Park

    All Set Up at Spanish Trail RV Park

  • April 22, 2019 at Greenbrier Campground in Gatlinburgh, Tennessee: $25.00 savings on 4 nights;
  • April 29, 2019 at Whispering Hills RV Park in Georgetown, Kentucky: $7.50 savings on 2 nights;
  • January 30, 2020 at Chassahowitzka River Campground in Homosassa, Florida: $18.75 savings on 4 nights; and


    Homosassa River near Chassahowitzka River Campground Office

    Homosassa River near Chassahowitzka River Campground Office

  • February 3, 2020 at Sunseekers RV Park in North Ft. Myers, Florida: $30.00 savings on 4 nights.

Had we bought one-year memberships or a two- or three-year membership, the investment would have paid off. Oh well, at least we have learned from our mistake!

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The "WE Bought It!" Verdict

To wrap up, we'll answer the question, "Do the Wordy Explorers recommend Good Sam?" When we initially bought our Good Sam membership, we considered it a trial. We chose the three year membership because we knew that with the $30.00 merchandise coupon plus what we would save on our first stay in South Dakota, we would almost break even. What happened during the remaining years of our initial membership term would determine our appetite for renewing our membership.

So, "Do the Wordy Explorers recommend Good Sam?" Absolutely YES - without a doubt! Even for campers with a Passport America membership (which is typically our "go to first" discount program), we have more than recouped our original Good Sam investment. (We surpassed our break-even point on our three year membership after less than 3 months.) We are extremely pleased with the net savings accumulated thus far, and even realized that we would have saved had we purchased a Good Sam membership earlier in our RV traveling days!


Sleepy Hollow Campground & RV Park

Sleepy Hollow Campground & RV Park

Passport America

For a similar analysis of Passport America, take a look at our article titled "Should Passport America Be Your Passport to America?". After just over two years of membership, we provide a similar analysis to help you determine whether or not the Passport America discount program is right for you.

Favorite Camping and RVing Clubs

Which RV or campground clubs have you found to have benefits that outweigh the membership cost?




What We Missed Out On Without Good Sam





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