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Who Has the Best Prices: Costco, BJ's, or Sam's Club?

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May 23, 2016 · 19.3k Views

Inquiring minds want to know. Really, they need to know. Which bulk store has the lowest prices: BJ's, Costco, or Sam's Club? Which stops will allow them to save the most money when shopping? How can they get the most goods for the least amount of cash without having to shop around and pick up different items at different locations. This is an often-disputed claim – as to who has the best all-around deals – yet one that has so much importance behind it. That's also why, once and for all, we want to set the record straight. We put in the research, we compared the prices, and we finally have an answer as to which wholesale membership store's fees come in as the lowest.

First things first, memberships are expensive, but they're expensive for a reason. By buying in bulk, there are some huge abilities to save. Especially when used year-round. When comparing the overall savings that are available, the membership itself is actually quite low. That is, assuming it's properly utilized.


Membership Fees

To join BJ's, it'll cost you an annual fee of $50. That's good for one person, but comes with a second card that's to be used for someone else in your home. (It's unclear if these cards can be transferred to a friend or family member with a different address.)

The same access comes in at $5 cheaper, for a total of $45 per year, at Sam's Club for a single membership.

While Costco's fees jumped up to $55, they also offer a free secondary card. 

SEE ALSO: Costco Membership Fee is About to Get More Expensive

Although membership fees can be a major drawback for some us, if you're in no hurry to sign up as a member, keep an eye out for membership package deals from each wholesaler that can be found on Groupon or Livingsocial

The Prices

Now it's time to get down to the nitty gritty. By comparing sizes and prices, we were able to come up with real-life comparisons.

When stocking up on pantry staples, Sam's Club offered the cheapest prices on both rice and beans. Their 20-pound bag of rice is listed at $7.23, which is just $.36 per pound. Meanwhile, BJ's 25-pound bag goes for $9.89 and Costco's 25-pound bag is $9.49 – bigger packages, but with a higher price per weight. Beans came in with much similar results, with fees that are tens of cents cheaper than the other two's on all styles of beans.

SEE ALSO: 13 Things You Should ALWAYS Buy at Costco

However, Costco came out on top with quinoa, while BJ's offers the best deals on peanut butter and bread. And Sam's Club came out winning again with chips. So based on these many winning bulk options, you'll want to decide where to shop for the lowest prices for groceries you actually need.  

Then, moving into the freezer section, Sam's won with frozen veggies and chicken. Sam's other victories: pain killers, soft toilet paper (BJ's took the lead with overall volume, but had a higher price for the thick stuff), trash bags, and diapers. While BJ's was the lowest on paper towels, baby wipes, refrigerators, and coffee makers.

Our Take

In case you hadn't noticed, Costco didn't win at all – their prices are some of the highest when shopping in bulk. Their membership fees are also the highest. If you're on the fence of where you should shop for your warehouse needs, Costco likely isn't going to be your best choice. The prices are high and the rewards are miniscule compared to the other guys.

But between Sam's and BJ's who's best? BJ's had the best deals on big purchases, while Sam's offers lower day-to-day deals. Depending on what you're shopping for, you're bound to find better – yet equally great – deals with either brand name. Take your upcoming purchases into account, and opt for your next membership in return.

One More Thing

Finally, you should consider location. How close do you live to each of these warehouses? By the time you spend your time and gas, are you still saving as much as if you went with the other guys? Be sure to factor this in when drawing up prices for an accurate final fee.

Shopping from a warehouse retailer can be a great way to save on your household staples, as well as items you only purchase once in a blue moon. Remember to check prices and location to ensure you're getting the best deal – even when shopping from a "discount" location.

No warehouses near you? No problem.

We've tracked down alternate online wholesalers that offers the same cheap bulk pricing and best of all, these e-tailers won't even charge you any membership fees. Learn more about major online wholesalers Boxed.com and Jet.com now!

Want to keep up to date with our community of bargain hunters on top daily deals, sales and news? Become a deal hunter at DealsPlus!





bethaney_wallace profile picture
Bethaney Wallace is a full-time freelance writer and avid deal finder located in the Midwest. When she's not reading or writing, she can be found looking for a new project, including anything knitted or DIY, which she outlines in her humorous personal blog, Earl & Other Greys. (bethaneywallace.com)
JDMOMMOct 10, 2017
We find better quality of some of the merchandise in Costco than in other competitors as Sams and BJ's. We have shopped all three and find Costco items last and out preform alike items from other stores. Costco has a very good retrun policy. We have shopped from the opening in Seattle of the first Costco.
GinawbeanJun 29, 2016
What this post fails to state about costco is, you may find some things are more expensive than BJ'S or Sam's club but you get double the amount for that price. The vast amounts of organic produce, meats and other products is enough to justify the switch to costco alone. I've had memberships to all 3 and I'm far happier with costco.
TLWisnerMay 26, 2016
I dropped my Sam's membership and went to Costco and I am quite happy with the switch. Shopping at Costco is much better, quality and store cleanliness is far better than Sam's. Sam's underpaid employees mostly do not give a crap while Costco retains better employees and runs their store in a much better fashion. I will admit that I do not buy 50 pound bags of rice and beans but the quality of the stuff that I do buy is much better than Sam's brands. There is more than just price in measuring value and a $10 / year difference in a membership fee is really a minor factor overall.
somesome11May 23, 2016
I just joined Sam's and am not impressed at all. Anything they might have in a lower price often has an equally-low quality, with Costco its about quality for the price, their Kirkland brand isn't just some terrible generic, they only make a generic when they cannot find as good of quality as they'd like at a price point they want, so often the Kirkland brand can even be better than a namebrand. Unfortunately it still seems the best of all worlds is to shop at all the different places, there are a few things that makes Sam's worthwhile, for me that's primarily location, but if there were both a Costco and a Sam's, I'd definitely stick with Costco.

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