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Costco vs. Sam's Club

ammuller profile picture
ammullerGuest Blogger
September 11, 2018 · 4.7k Views

My second year of college, two very amazing things happened. The first was that I moved out of the dorms and into an apartment. The second was that two of my very best friends had magical gifts bestowed upon them by their parents: the one friend had herself a Costco card, and the other a Sam’s Club card. It was as if we’d been handed a pot of gold that whispered, “Go fill your new kitchen with baby kale that you can buy in bulk. And no, I don’t care that you don’t like kale, because you’re going to buy it anyway because it’s just such a good deal.”

I’ve shopped at both Costco and Sam’s Club numerous times, and I’ve decided to come up with a list comparing the two so that you don’t have to.


Costco vs. Sam's Club


When it comes to the annual membership fees, Costco starts at $60 for the basic membership, then jumps to $120 for the Gold Star Executive membership. The Gold Star Executive membership includes perks such as annual 2% reward on eligible Costco purchases and other extra benefits.

Meanwhile, an annual membership at Sam’s Club starts at just $45 and then rises to $100 for the Sam’s Plus membership. The Sam’s Plus membership includes extra benefits such as cash rewards, free shipping for online purchases, and early shopping hours in-stores.  

So when it comes down to membership price, I’d have to say that Sam’s Club wins that fight.


Kirkland vs. Member’s Mark

One of the best things about shopping at Costco or Sam’s Club is getting such a good deal on their store-brand products! Some people swear by Kirkland soy milk, some might only buy Member’s Mark coffee. While it could be difficult to compare the two brands, I’ve decided to pick three similar items from each store and go by the price to see which offers the better deal.

Coffee Pods

Pet Food

Laundry Detergent

From this list, it looks like Sam’s Club might offer the better deal. That being said, there are always certain products you can buy at Costco for a better price than you can get at Sam’s Club, and vice versa.


Number of Locations

According to Wikipedia, Costco has 527 locations in the United States while Sam’s Club has 597. As for locations outside of the US, Costco has 232 while Sam’s Club has 208.

So in total, it looks like Costco has 759 locations worldwide and Sam’s Club is at 805. It looks like Sam’s Club wins for number of locations.



Gas prices can be tricky to compare considering they can change from city to city. That being said, I did my research on various different gas prices across the US for both Costco and Sam’s Club. It seems that they’re about comparable, honestly. If Costco is 2 cents more than Sam’s Club in one city, it’s 2 cents less in another. I couldn’t find any outrageous differences in any of the cities I used, but be sure to leave a comment if you’ve ever noticed anything!



Personally, I’ve always felt that parking in Costco was absolutely insane. Where else will you find people waiting ten or more minutes with their blinker on for someone who’s only just opened the trunk of their car? Is the parking spot really that great? I don’t think so. There’s another spot five spaces down, but that’s apparently too far to walk. I don’t know if there’s some invisible force field, but there’s something that makes people pulling into Costco drive like bats out of hell, and I have yet to figure out what exactly it is.

Parking alway seems to be a zoo at Costco, and Sam’s Club seems a bit more calm. Therefore, I really have to give Sam’s Club the point for this category.


In Conclusion

From this short list, it seems like Sam’s Club is the winner. That being said, I really think that Costco has things Sam’s Club doesn’t while Sam’s Club has things you can’t find at Costco. Both stores have their pros and cons, and you should shop wherever you like. If anything, why not get a membership to both?

And of course, what’s an article on Costco or Sam’s Club if you don’t mention all the free samples? They’re great at both stores (although I do think Costco has a better variety of samples). So thanks to both stores for saving me so much money that I didn't end up spending on dinner because I went back for two extra samples of ravioli (and Nutella, and lemonade, and Goldfish, and the countless other samples of foods we’ve all already tasted before)!


Thank you to community member ammuller for this informative article. When she's not taking notes and comparing retailers, or secretly snacking on free samples, you can find her posting great deals and coupons here.

Also, to stay up to date with the best Costco deals & offers, subscibe to their storepage here.

Or, for the Sam's Club lovers, subscribe to their storepage here.

autensOct 24, 2018
I'm a member of Sam's Club, sometimes it have many offer coupon just for members. I haven't join in the Costco, so i don't know about it before this blog. I think i will try it later, it’s always better to shop around.
coverissimoOct 02, 2018
good post !!
kd3004Sep 15, 2018
If you go quality vs. quality then Costco wins hands down. I rarely buy Sam's Member's Mark. But I always buy Costco's Kirkland. Plus Costco has tons of organic. Also the quality of Costco's gas is better. Overall. Costco is like Target and Sam's is basically Walmart.
mikae1aSep 11, 2018
I love these comparisons! My sister is considering getting a membership between the two, I might just show her this article before she makes a choice!
DiMamedova15Sep 11, 2018
I love the article! Thank you @ammuller!
I personally have a Costco membership, and I've never been to Sam's Club, but after reading and comparing these two stores I'm determined to take a tour at Sam's Club.

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