We shopped at Costco and Sam's Club and found Costco's extra membership cost is worth it
- Costco and Walmart-owned Sam's Club are two leading wholesale retailers with similar bulk-sized products and prices.
- Both require membership for shopping and include pharmacies, food courts, and hearing and vision centers.
- We visited both to see which was better and found that though Sam's Club's membership was slightly cheaper, Costco's Kirkland brands and superior food court made it the better choice overall.
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For bulk shopping at cheap prices, Costco and Sam's Club are the way to go.
The membership-based warehouses occupy a unique sector of retail. Both offer everything from groceries to clothes in bulk and require a membership in order to shop.Costco and the Walmart-owned Sam's Club have similar store models and almost identical products and prices. Both sell flowers, electronics, jewelry, and groceries. They also both have pharmacies and affordable food courts and they offer hearing and vision tests in many of their stores.
To be sure, Costco and Sam's Club are not designed to foster a regular shopping experience. The stores are set up like warehouses, stripped of all fluff and frills. What you see is what you get - and what you get is usually the best bang for your buck.
The differences between the two are slight but meaningful. Costco's annual membership - $60 for basic membership and $120 for executive - is slightly more expensive than Sam's Club's $45 regular annual membership or its plus membership for $100.
With 539 locations in the United States and Puerto Rico, Costco is about as easy to find as Sam's Club, which has almost 600 clubs in the same regions. But where you live in proximity to a warehouse could make or break your decision to join either store.
We visited both stores without memberships to see which was worth joining. Costco's wide selection of Kirkland Signature products and its superior food court made it the better choice overall. But its proximity to us was what made it the most convenient option - and this factor could vary with each person.Here's what we saw.