When making the choice of which membership warehouse will get your business, does Costco or Sam’s Club win out? Is one better than the other, and if so, which factors play into that decision? Costco and Sam’s Club are similar in many ways. Their appearance on the interior is nearly identical. Both offer discounted merchandise based upon the fact that you are buying in bulk. Both charge a membership fee for the privilege of shopping in their stores. However, in spite of all of their similarities, there are differences as well. Discovering these differences and using them to your advantage will be key in deciding which warehouse giant will get your membership.
Costco stores tend to be located closer to wealthy suburbs and higher-income areas. The vast majority of people shopping at Costco tend to be more interested in higher quality merchandise. Alternately, Sam’s Clubs tend to be located in regions where folks are more budget-challenged and are looking for a better deal on the quantities of items.
Sam’s Club’s membership fees are cheaper than Costco’s by $10. This may be a huge factor to take into consideration for those who are reluctant to shell out the initial membership fee. Sam’s Club also offers more in-store benefits to their membership, whereas Costco’s benefits are more out-of-store benefits, such as auto insurance and travel discounts. Sam’s Club also offers a cash back option to its highest membership levels, and Costco does too.
As far as prices go, Sam’s Club appears to have overall lower prices. They offer Membership Mark and Dairy Chef foods as their in-house brands. Costco offers Kirkland. However, it seems that even though Sam’s Club’s overall prices are slightly lower, the packaging sizes are often smaller than at Costco. This would technically make Costco’s unit prices cheaper.
Sam’s Club offers its customers more payment methods than Costco, so this could be a slight advantage. Costco often has long waiting lines, whereas Sam’s Club now offers a “Click and Pull” option. With “Click and Pull”, you can place your order online and pick it up at the store the next day. This is a convenience that Costco doesn’t offer.
Costco has its renowned return policy, where they seem to allow you to return virtually anything without a receipt. Sam’s Club has a more traditional return policy, requiring a receipt for a full refund. Costco doesn’t offer delivery or installation services for any in-store purchases. The customer must transport and install items themselves. On the other hand, Sam’s Club delivers and installs furniture and electronics. They also offer 24/7 technical support on electronics purchases.
Costco vs. Sam’s Club: Which is Better for You?
As you can see, the similarities between Costco and Sam’s Club are many. It is important to research each store to see which perks will benefit you the most. Depending on what you hope to achieve with your membership, one may be a clear winner over the other in your opinion. In my opinion, however, this race is too close to call.
(Photo Courtesy of Ken Teegardin)