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5 Smart Alternatives to a Sam's Club or Costco Membership

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Carrie SmithGuest Blogger
October 19, 2016 · 34.2k Views

One of the most common tips for saving money on your monthly grocery bill is to buy in bulk from a big box store like Sam’s Club or Costco. But access to these stores costs a yearly membership fee, which may not be worth the price for individuals or small families. Here are five smart alternatives to purchasing a Sam’s Club or Costco membership while still getting the buying-in-bulk savings.


5 Smart Alternatives to a Sam's Club or Costco Membership

1. Use a premium grocery service



It’s true, you don’t need to to pay for a big box store membership from Sam’s Club or Costco to buy groceries or household items in bulk. Thanks to premium grocery delivery services, like Instacart, you can place an order from Costco and have your goods delivered right to your door -- no membership needed. 

This is especially budget-friendly for smaller families and couples who only shop at big box stores once or twice a year. Instead of paying the $45-55 yearly membership fee for Sam’s Club or Costco, respectively, you’ll only pay a $3.99 delivery fee, and possibly a tip, to have the items delivered from Instacart.


2. Purchase bulk supplies online



In addition to an in-person delivery service, check out bulk discount sites online who give access to bulk-discounted items without the membership fee. Two of the most popular ones include Boxed.com, Jet.com, and Amazon’s bulk section. After spending the time to personally compare these options, to the exact same items available via the Sam’s Club and Costco websites, I was actually able to save a bit more money by choosing to purchase online.

Boxed.com and Amazon’s bulk section both offer free shipping within 2-3 business days, and you may be able to take advantage of coupons and special offers. In my case, I was able to save $29.01 on the entire purchase by using a coupon code for Boxed.com as well as getting free shipping. See coupon deals for these online bulk suppliers below:


3. Call ahead to order bulk buys

whole foods

Whole Foods Market

Many regular grocery stores offer the ability for customers to purchase items in bulk by ordering cases or boxes of certain items. Whole Foods, for example, allows customers to purchase entire cases of unopened food or household items for 10% off.

To take advantage of these savings, call your local grocery store ahead of time and request unopened boxes of cases or pallets of items you need to purchase. Verify with your local grocery store to see exactly how much you can save on items you purchase most.


4. Join a grocery buying club

food buying club

APM Food Buying Club

Buying clubs are created when groups of individuals and/or families merge their monthly grocery lists to purchase food and household items in large quantities at nearly wholesale prices. This allows everyone to split the items as well as the overall cost. The savings can be quite significant, even as much as 50% off certain items on your monthly grocery list.

One downside though is the fact that buying clubs come with a lot of planning and you’ll need your own jars or containers for your portion of the food or household items. You’ll also need to designate some volunteers to help coordinate the once-monthly grocery shopping, handle the payments and distribute food to everyone. But the added savings could be worth it. You can find more detailed information on how to get started or how to look for a local grocery buying club at startabuyingclub.com.


5. Try a Sam’s or Costco membership for free


The State

If you want to simply try out Sam’s Club or Costco to see if the membership is worth the yearly price tag, they each offer options that will allow you to test them out without much risk to your budget. Sam’s Club offers a refundable membership so if you’re not satisfied with the service you can simply request that they cancel your account and refund the money. The same thing applies to the Costco membership as they offer a money-back guarantee if you’re not happy with their membership. You can also try:

Another option is to go to one of these big box stores with a friend and use their membership card as a test to see how much you could save on regular trips to these stores. An additional alternative is to purchase a gift card from Sam’s or Costco, which allows you to shop at their store without a membership card. During the checkout, you simply purchase a gift card and then use it while shopping and paying for all your groceries.

Recommended For You: 
How to Shop at Costco Without a Membership
5 Ways To Shop Sam's Club Without A Membership


By using these alternatives, you don’t have to pay for a big box store membership and can still save money by buying in bulk for your household needs.

warehouse club

what to buy


carefulcents profile picture
Hi, I'm Carrie Smith! I'm a financial writer and small business expert who helps freelancers build client-based businesses through meaningful relationships. I have a background in small business accounting and taxes and recently won an award for Best Entrepreneurship Blog for my site, carefulcents.com.

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