Sam's Club or Costco, Which Has Better Prices & Services?

In this review of Costco's diamond engagement rings, we reveal why they aren't the best place to shop at and why you aren't getting a better deal there.

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Although these can be convenient for shoppers who come in for only a few items, we're not sure how practical they are for the typical shopper stocking up on large, unwieldy items. More of a boon is Sam's Club's free pickup service, which allows members to place an order online and schedule a pickup time at the store. At some clubs, shoppers don't even have to get out of their cars to claim their items.

At others, shoppers go inside and check in with their membership card before a club associate retrieves the order. Costco does not have in-store pickup, but it does have a same-day-delivery partnership with Instacart for groceries and household supplies in some metropolitan areas. There is also a two-day delivery service for non-perishable groceries and household supplies.

Both wholesale clubs claim fans and detractors. In Cheapism's online poll, respondents posted numerous gripes about service at Sam's Club. For example, Jeff Rigg of Columbus, Ohio, wrote: Sam's Club is more like going to the DMV. Product selection, availability, and quality also affect the customer experience. A poll respondent with memberships at both warehouse clubs said the produce she buys at Costco always lasts longer.

Others asserted that Costco seems to carry more upmarket inventory and a larger selection of healthy and organic products. Several other shoppers value the savings at Sam's Club. Broadly speaking, the range of departments at both stores is very similar, as is the assortment of inventory.

In addition to groceries and household essentials, each superstore sells electronics and computers, apparel, home goods, pharmaceuticals, health and beauty products, toys and video games, sports and fitness equipment, automotive supplies, and photo printing.

Some Sam's Club and Costco locations also operate gas stations, where prices generally undercut the local competition. Differences between the two are more apparent in the array of available services across departments. Both Sam's Club and Costco also have auto-buying programs that offer haggle-free vehicle pricing for club members.

Costco offers breaks on car insurance through Ameriprise and additional benefits for executive members, including roadside assistance, lifetime renewability, and glass repair reimbursements. Free tech support from Costco is available from 5 a.

Costco extends the manufacturer's warranty to two years for most computers, TVs, displays, projectors and major appliances. Both stores limit the return window to 90 days for most electronics. Cellphones and other carrier-connected devices must be returned within two weeks to Sam's Club, however. Sam's Club offers a similar menu of services, including discounted insurance, check printing, and credit monitoring.

While the club doesn't provide mortgage services, it does offer discounted accounting services and tax help. Like Costco, it offers business services such as payment and payroll help; it can also arrange discounted small business loans through partner banks. The average shopper probably won't join Sam's or Costco to take advantage of these services, but they're worth checking out.

Further research reinforces Costco's advantage. That bolsters a previous report by the magazine, done in , that also found a significant price advantage for Costco. The surveys reflect the total retail prices of the drugs without insurance and without member discounts. Both retailers provide optical services at many of their stores. Sam's Club offers a relatively broad set of free health screenings, including cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure, body fat percentage, and hearing tests.

Memberships are not required for Sam's health screenings. Costco focuses on periodic osteoporosis, heart, and diabetes screenings at select stores. It also offers free hearing tests, hearing-aid cleanings, and hearing-aid checkups.

Non-members can shop at Costco and Sam's Club as guests of a card-carrying member. Both clubs allow members to bring in up to two guest shoppers per trip, but only members are allowed to purchase most items. Both retailers accept returns of online purchases in-store. Refunds for online orders from Costco include shipping and handling fees. Sam's Club refunds the shipping cost only if the return is the result of an error.

This helps support our work and does not influence editorial content. Prices To compare Sam's Club and Costco prices, we shopped for a family of four, including an infant, at stores in the same Dayton, Ohio, market area.

Tie Average Savings 7. Locations As of early , Costco operated clubs, including more than located abroad. Of the stores in the U. Costco locations also tend to cluster in urban centers. Sam's parent company, Wal-Mart, is closing 63 clubs, but that still leaves it with Sam's Club locations throughout the U. BJ's counts just over locations concentrated in the eastern U. Membership Both warehouse clubs have two membership levels. Costco offers separate household and business memberships within those tiers, while Sam's Club has streamlined its membership options to only two.

Extra Savings Both clubs play the discount game. Special offers are automatically taken at checkout. Costco mails out coupon packets monthly. Mailings from Sam's Club are more sporadic. We saw several "instant savings" discounts when ambling down the aisles at both stores, and members of both retailers can keep track of the latest deals via mobile apps. Both clubs' websites show dozens of current offers, both in store and online.

We didn't include such savings in our price comparison, because shoppers can't count on the discounts to be available when they visit the store. But it's worth noting that there were discounts on five of the items we priced at Costco and three at Sam's Club. Automotive In the auto departments at Sam's Club and Costco, a similar selection of tires and accessories carry largely equivalent prices, but the available services vary somewhat. I have my staples that I go there for all the time, but my list just grew.

I feel like you mentioned before that you buy those applesauce pouches for your kids for special times. I want to get some for camping next week, but want to buy the best brand. Did you mention which brand of those is better?

If you did please let me know! Yes, I actually buy those pouches from Costco too! They taste all the same to my kids so I buy whatever brand Costco carries at the time, which is GoGo squeeze at mine: My kids love them!

I think those are both great deals. Sadly, no Cosco nearby. Wondering the price versus the smaller ones at a local grocery store. They are a pain to find room for in the freezer, but the veggies are quality and great to have on-hand. We divide the bigger bags into smaller, food saver bags, takes up less room and lasts even longer, same with cheeses.

My husband is a manager at Costco and I have to agree with your list. The only things I would add are toys, whole pizzas and car rentals. Also their whole pizzas from the food court at the best value in town.

No where else can we get a multiple topping 18 inch pizza for 9. We switched to the Kirkland brand and will never go back, plus they last forever because they are the liter size bottles. Wow this was incredibly helpful!!

What happened to the free samples you posted on FB? I am already a Costco members on FB you posted free samples 2 boxes maximum where are they pls. AMEX is no longer used at any Costco. Just use their Costco branded card for cashback at the end of the year. You must print out the coupon and give it to them. It is not always about what is cheapest, it is about what is right and proper…. Below is what was on Facebook. You click on it and it takes you to this website http: US Selling Out Fast!

Oh my gosh someone is ripping off my site! Will you please link to the original facebook post where that link was posted? I love shopping at Costco they have great buys if you have a large family and trying to save money. You should do a new follow-up blog post because there are several significant things that have changed. Amex is no longer their card — they are now Visa merchants.

Because ground beef has skyrocketed since and Costco is almost ALWAYS the most cost-effective place to buy good quality ground beef now. You can have your pet prescriptions filled at Costco, too. I would really enjoy having free things from Costco. I really do love shopping there get all the things in bulk. Hope that Costco never ever does go out of business.

You can save so much money when you buy things in bulk so much money. And the membership is very very reasonable. Easier than you think: I might not be able to get everything all at once in fact, I rarely do and I only buy certain things at costco.

I am trying to find the information for how you budget for Costco and fit buying bulk into your budget and it goes to a page not found. I loved reading this post. It helped me so much in ehat to look for while shopping. I never knew they refill your ink. I love February too! The rewards are the best! And rinsing strawberries in vinegar?! I thougt I knew a lot about Costco, but I learned so much from this post, thanks! We go to Costco and leave almost empty handed most of the time honestly gasp!

Is is worth is to keep the membership for the couple good deals we actually do get? I have read all your Costco posts multiple times. We are getting ready to do our first huge once a month shopping haul and this has helped me with some ideas!!

Thank you for the list! Do you or your team ever do price comparisons between the two stores? Such a good post. We will be getting about back this month as well. Thanks for sharing what not to get too! Your email address will not be published. Costco may be more expensive than Walmart that's where I am comparing my prices because those are the two places I shop , but their quality might not even compare in some people's minds.

To me, the quality of the things I buy isn't different enough for me NOT to save the money. Does that make sense? Giving you an insider's look at how shopping at Costco works! If you opt for the huge container of strawberries and they start to go bad, don't toss them!

Make strawberry spinach salad for dinner. Do what you can to NOT let anything go bad, because you're just throwing money away. If it's on it's way out, freeze it! If it ends up being funky when you thaw it out, hey…at least you tried.

This goes for everything — produce, meat, bread, sauces, fruit, buns, milk yup.