If you know anyone who has either a Costco or a Sam’s Club membership, then you probably know how fanatical people can be about either option. Everyone loves a good deal, but membership-based discount stores seem to elevate that feeling to a new level for bargain hunters. Plus, there’s the added bonus of it feeling just a little bit more exclusive than your standard grocery store. Known for offering quality goods in bulk amounts, both Costco and Sam’sClub have unique benefits, perks, and offers that make some people loyal to one as opposed to the other. If you’re not looking to get both memberships, or you just want to know how they compare, there are a few major factors to consider when choosing between the two stores.
One of the biggest question marks when it comes to joining stores like Sam’s or Costco comes down to money. Everyone wants to know how much it actually costs to be a member. The good news is that it is probably less than you think, although there is a price discrepancy between the stores.
While Sam’s Club has a $45 yearly membership fee (as well as a discounted cost of $40 for every additional family member who joins), the store also offer a premium membership for $100 a year. The premium option includes early access shopping hours to avoid crowds, free shipping, and cash back rewards.
Similarly, Costco also has a flat rate yearly membership of $60, coming in at $15 more than Sam’s Club’s fee. Costco also offers memberships for businesses at the same fee of $60 per year. Both the business and standard memberships have options for “executive” versions, coming in at $120 a month. These executive memberships offer extra benefits like cash back and access to Costco stores worldwide.
In terms of cost, Sam’s Club comes in at slightly cheaper on all counts — certainly not a notable difference, but if you’re into pinching pennies, it could make a difference long-term.
In terms of day-to-day shopping benefits, Costco boasts its selection of quality, name brand goods at lower prices as well as its 100% satisfaction guarantee, noting that they’ll cancel and refund a membership at anytime if someone is unsatisfied with the services. A USA Today article noted that things like major deals on Costco.com, discounted gift cards, and sales on surprising big ticket items like cruises, vacations, and rental cars as some less talked-about (but still awesome) benefits to a Costco membership.
Sam’s Club offers the same standard benefits as Costco in terms of quality products at lower prices. It also has a very similar satisfaction guarantee policy which applies to both the membership itself and most goods (although not all). Sam’s Club also has an array of other more unique benefits like complimentary florist services, tech support, and tire installation (the latter two of which Costco offers as well), according to an article on Delish.
Offers & Perks
Many of the more unique offers that come with a membership to Costco or Sam’s Club are actually offered at both stores. Both places offer major discounts on everything from trips to Disney World to tires. Both places offer optical services for everything from exams to glasses. Both have discounts on popular prescriptions.
If you want to get into the nitty gritty, it seems that Costco does offer deals on cruises while Sam’s Club does not (although the store does have offers for hotels and theme park tickets). Still, though, for the vast majority of offerings the perks are almost identical.
While Sam’s Club might come in at slightly cheaper membership than Costco, that $15 difference might equal the gas it’ll take you to drive to the Sam’s Club if it’s not in a convenient location (even with gasoline priced at a discount — something that is also offered at both stores).
As of now, there are 599 Sam’s Club locations across the country. And while the East Coast has more locations than the West Cost, there are stores in 44 US States. Sam’s Club also has locations in Mexico, China, and Brazil.
Alternatively, Costco has 770 locations that span across the world. The brand also has locations in Canada, Mexico, the UK, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Spain, Iceland, and France.
The Bottom Line
Sam’s Club and Costco are almost competitive options for a reason; the stores’ offerings are almost identical. And in fact, customers who have been to both often note in blog posts that there are little differences between the two experiences in terms of quality of goods and services.
If saving money is what you’re after (and most people are when shopping wholesale), Sam’s Club is worth exploring if there is a location closest to where you live, especially given that the premium membership option only costs $40 more than Costco’s regular membership option. However, if you live very close to a Costco or are particular interested in very, very specific benefits (deals on cruises, for example), Costco might be for you. No matter what store you choose, though, you will ultimately save money on your groceries — and hey, what’s better than that?
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