I've been a member at BJ's, Sam's Club, and Costco for decades. If I could only choose one, it'd be Costco. (2023)

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Home Food

Gretchen Gales


I've been a member at BJ's, Sam's Club, and Costco for decades. If I could only choose one, it'd be Costco. (1)

Gretchen Gales
  • I have memberships at Costco, Sam's Club, and BJ's — but Costco is my favorite wholesale club.
  • Some products I've gotten at Costco have lasted for years so I get more bang for my buck.
  • Overall, Costco always seems to have the best selection of items.

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When I tell people I've been going to wholesale clubs for my entire life, I'm not exaggerating. Growing up, my family's philosophy was that if you couldn't find it at Costco, Sam's Club, or BJ's, it wasn't worth the price.

Each week, my family of three would venture out to every single wholesale club in the Richmond, Virginia, area and hunt for our weekly groceries.

For a long time, I questioned why we just didn't go to a "normal" grocery store like other families. Now, as an adult, I still shop at all three wholesale clubs for groceries and gas. However, Costco is always my favorite place to stop.

From affordable deals to a wide selection, here are 10 reasons I think Costco is the best warehouse.

Out of the warehouses by me, Costco carries the widest selection of items.

I've been a member at BJ's, Sam's Club, and Costco for decades. If I could only choose one, it'd be Costco. (3)

Gretchen Gales

The aisle at Sam's Club and BJ's might be more clearly marked than Costco's, but the selections aren't the same to me. I forgive a store that carries as much variety as Costco.

One week, I might find discounted American Girl doll sets and Lego collections. The next, I could come across WeatherTech car floor mats.

I've bought a lot of quality items from Costco that have lasted me years.

I've been a member at BJ's, Sam's Club, and Costco for decades. If I could only choose one, it'd be Costco. (4)

Gretchen Gales

Each warehouse sells items that feel like they're made to last, but I have always put most of my trust in the selection at Costco. The chainseems to carry a great selection of items that stand the test of time, from clothes to home goods.

My mother still owns a purple jacket from the first year my local Costco opened in the 1980s that has yet to have a tear or hole. I also got a bathrobe from Costco when I was 12 that held up until I was 24 years old.


Costco carries an impressive selection of pet supplies.

I've been a member at BJ's, Sam's Club, and Costco for decades. If I could only choose one, it'd be Costco. (5)

Gretchen Gales

I'm a proud owner of two orange tabbies with big hearts and bigger stomachs. Even with the price hikes on wet food, my Costco carries both name-brand and generic variety packs of 40 or more cans that my cats (and my wallet) love.

Costco also carries other pet supplies like gigantic bags of dry food, beds, and toys for dogs and cats of all breeds. I even saw dog-grooming tubs at Costco.

Though BJ's and Sam's Club also carry pet supplies, I prefer Costco's selection.

It also seems to have the most diverse array of food options.

I've been a member at BJ's, Sam's Club, and Costco for decades. If I could only choose one, it'd be Costco. (6)

Gretchen Gales

If I'm looking for candy and savory foods I'd normally find at specialty stores at a higher markup, I know Costco almost always has them at reasonable prices and in bulk.

My local Costco has a consistent supply of miso soup or homestyle ramen noodle soup kits, goods that aren't always in stock at Sam's Club. The same goes for fun candy like Pocky and Hello Panda chocolate cookies.

I think not being able to use manufacturer's coupons makes saving easier.

I've been a member at BJ's, Sam's Club, and Costco for decades. If I could only choose one, it'd be Costco. (7)

(Video) I got SCAMMED by Costco...

Gretchen Gales

Each warehouse store provides customers with discounts in slightly different ways, but Costco's methods and prices are the best for me.

BJ's accepts coupons from manufacturers (Costco and Sam's Club do not) and has its own coupons. Instead of automatically applying all deals, BJ's customers can clip digital coupons on its website or page through physical booklets.

Although I love clipping coupons and finding great deals at BJ's, in my opinion, Costco's prices are already low enough that I don't need to waste time hunting down additional deals.

Plus,at Costco, I've found sales are automatically applied at checkout and additional deals will be advertised directly under the applicable products in an aisle. For example, I was able to snag a three-pack of Flonase Sensimist for $51 with an additional $12 off, making each about $13.

The typical cost for one Flonase Sensimist can range from $18 to $30 at the pharmacy.

Costco's food court has a cult following for a reason.

I've been a member at BJ's, Sam's Club, and Costco for decades. If I could only choose one, it'd be Costco. (8)

Gretchen Gales

Costco's food court is known for its quality food at amazing prices. The $1.50 hot dog and drink combo has been protected by Costco's founder, Jim Senegal, who reportedly told current CEO W. Craig Jelinek he'd kill him if he raised the price.

Growing up, Costco's food courts could feed our entire family for less than $10, or a little more if we also wanted frozen yogurt. Since then, the price of the pizza at my local Costco still hasn't changed.

During my most recent Costco trip with my boyfriend, we paid a little under $8 for two slices of pizza and a hot-dog combo.

Recently, my local BJ's closed its cafe so getting the food I used to order there isn't even an option. My Sam's Club still has a food court but, for me, Costco specifically brings back the nostalgia of getting a slice of pizza the size of your face for a low cost.

Generally speaking, the prices at the food court at my local Costco are also more affordable than at Sam's Club.

Costco has a better selection and quality of jewelry and accessories.

I've been a member at BJ's, Sam's Club, and Costco for decades. If I could only choose one, it'd be Costco. (9)

Gretchen Gales

From watches to jewelry, I've always found great quality accessories at Costco.

My boyfriend — a watch connoisseur — evaluated the store's watch section and was impressed by the selection of Seiko, Citizen, and Bulova watches, noting the difference in quality from typical fashion watches.

Though Sam's Club carries Gucci watches and BJ's has its own jewelry selection, we find we prefer the merchandise at Costco.

(Video) Anything You Can Fit In The Triangle I’ll Pay For

Costco gives you a better picture of what appliances will look like in your home.

I've been a member at BJ's, Sam's Club, and Costco for decades. If I could only choose one, it'd be Costco. (10)

Gretchen Gales

All three wholesale clubs display electronics at the front of their stores. But if you want a complete idea of what they'd look like in your home, Costco neatly displays home appliances with accompanying accessories so you can decide if you just need a fridge or the whole set to match.

You're free to touch the display models and get a better grasp of just how wide or big they would be in your home prior to purchasing.

Costco's optical department has luxury frames and name-brand contacts for a fraction of the cost.

I've been a member at BJ's, Sam's Club, and Costco for decades. If I could only choose one, it'd be Costco. (11)

Gretchen Gale

BJ's and Sam's Club also have optical departments but — at least at my location — Costco Optical has a larger variety of glasses from both reputable and store brands.

You can snag luxury brand frames (like Gucci and Prada) for a fraction of what you would pay at the eye doctor's office. Name-brand contacts can also be purchased at Costco Optical with a prescription.

Whether I'm visiting one of the warehouse's optometrists or simply wanting to purchase some prescription lenses, I've always found Costco Optical ready to help with anything.

The alcohol selection includes popular brands and local favorites.

I've been a member at BJ's, Sam's Club, and Costco for decades. If I could only choose one, it'd be Costco. (12)

Gretchen Gales

My local BJ's and Sam's Club both sell alcohol but I like the selection at Costco the best. Everything is displayed simply and neatly and there's a huge variety of wine, beer, and spirits.

Whether I'm looking for a Pinot Grigio to give to my neighbor or want to try products from local breweries, Costco's rotating variety of beer and wine never leaves me bored.

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Who has better prices Costco or Sam's Club? ›

Does Costco or Sam's Club Have Better Prices? Overall, the prices at Costco tend to be cheaper. However, Sam's Club has a greater selection of name-brand products and a cheaper membership fee.

Can you use Sam's Club card at Costco? ›

Sam's Club® Mastercard®

It won't work at Costco because it's a Mastercard and only Visa is accepted there. It also gives you 3% back on dining and takeout purchases, but only 1% back everywhere else, including purchases at Sam's Club.

Which is better Costco or BJ's? ›

BJ's is smaller and sells more name brand items. Costco is the better choice thanks to reasonable prices, a superior food court, and clean store design.

What is the difference between Costco and Sam's Club? ›

Costco's membership fees are more expensive, but its prices tend to be slightly lower overall. Sam's Club carries more national brands while Costco stocks more private label items. Costco is known for having a larger selection of organic products. Both wholesale clubs offer discounted gas, but Costco gas is Top Tier.

Who has cheaper food Costco or Sam's Club? ›

When it comes to basic food staples, Sam's Club prices are slightly lower than Costco's. Sam's Club had a lower price for more items on this list than Costco, but the price differences are slim. And this is just a glimpse of the many products and food items both wholesalers offer.

What's the difference between the $45 and $100 Sam's Club membership? ›

The Sam's Club Plus Membership is the highest level of membership offered and includes additional benefits such as free shipping for online orders, earlier shopping hours, and special financing options. A Sam's Club basic membership costs $45 a year, while a Sam's Club Plus membership costs $100 per year, an extra $55.

How to get Costco card for free? ›

Costco doesn't offer free or discounted memberships, but rest assured that the cost of membership can be recovered quickly thanks to massive price savings once you start shopping.

Is Costco membership free for seniors? ›

Unfortunately, Costco does not offer any free or discounted memberships for seniors, meaning that senior shoppers still have to pay full membership fees. The starting cost of a Costco membership is $60 per year, which gets you access to a Gold Star membership.

How to get a Sam's Club card for free? ›

The Sam's Club Membership Free Trial (“Free Trial”) offer is available to those customers who do not have an active Sam's Club membership and have not had an active Sam's Club membership during the past 6 months. To sign up for a Free Trial, you must have a current, valid payment method on file.

Does BJ's have food like Costco? ›

At BJ's, the prepared meals are more like what you find on the name-brand side of Costco's impressive refrigerated-foods wall. They're displayed supermarket deli-style in short bays that punctuate the space.

Which is more affordable Costco or BJs? ›

BJ's has similar membership tiers as Costco, though their annual dues are slightly cheaper.

Which is more expensive Costco or BJ's? ›

BJ's offers a cheaper membership

A Costco membership starts at $60 a year for the basic version. There are ways to avoid paying, but if you're a regular shopper it often makes sense. A BJ's in-store membership starts at $55 a year.

Why do people prefer Costco over Sam's Club? ›

Costco shoppers find that their local stores are more open with higher ceilings and better lighting compared to Sam's Club stores. There is also more space for navigating aisles and finding additional items. In general, Sam's Clubs tend to be a bit smaller, coming in at an average of 134,000 square feet.

Can you eat at Costco without membership? ›

You do need a membership to use the food court

Sadly, this is no longer true for non-members. Since early 2020, Costco has required a membership card to buy anything at the food court, including chicken bakes, barbecue beef brisket sandwiches, ice cream and churros.

Is Costco membership worth it for one person? ›

“Keep in mind that with a Costco membership, you should have a positive cost/benefit analysis,” said Trae Bodge, smart shopping expert at Truetrae.com. In her opinion, “A single person simply doesn't need to shop at Costco enough for the membership to be worth it.”

Is chicken cheaper at Costco or Sams? ›

Cost-wise, Sam's Club was the better deal at our local wholesaler locations, but that's only if you're splitting hairs — the Sam's chicken was $4.98, only a penny better than Costco's price of $4.99.

How much is a Sam's Club membership 2023? ›

Membership Fee Frequently Asked Questions. What are the new membership fees and when will they change? Starting October 17, 2022, membership fees will increase from $45 to $50 for Club members and from $100 to $110 for Plus members.

Which Costco membership is best? ›

Costco has two main membership levels: Executive, which costs $120, and Gold Star, which costs $60. Executive membership gives you a 2% return on qualifying Costco purchases and discounts on services. If you spend $3,000 annually, or $250 per month, at Costco, it's worth upgrading to Executive.

Is Sam's Club offering $8.00 membership? ›

Just like our members, we also have a 'more the merrier attitude', so we're excited to be able to bring back our $8 membership offer and let more people discover the quality, convenience, and value that Sam's Club offers.

Can I use someone else's Sams card? ›

Membership cards are non-transferable and are inclusive to card and household cardholders.

What is the most expensive Sam's Club membership? ›

If you've been on the fence about getting a Sam's Club membership to get their warehouse deals, you might want to get on that soon. The Sam's Club membership cost increased on Oct. 17, 2022, with the entry-level membership jumping from $45 to $50 per year and their Plus membership increasing from $100 to $110 per year.

Do AAA members get discount at Costco? ›

Yes, AAA members do get discounts at Costco. When they join or renew their AAA membership, they can receive a one-time $20 or $10 Costco Shop Card. They can also get a 10% discount on most services at Logan Square Auto Repair, a Costco partner. However, there is no general discount on Costco purchases for AAA members.

What credit score do you need to get a Costco card? ›

You must have excellent credit to get approved for the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi. That generally means a credit score of 720 or above. Is the Costco Anywhere Visa the best credit card for gas? If you want rewards that are more flexible than Costco rewards, see our top picks for best gas credit cards.

Is it worth to get a Costco card $120? ›

The Costco Executive Membership is worth the money for every Costco customer,” he said. “The main benefit of the membership is it provides a 2% reward on all Costco purchases.” Depending on your spending habits, he said you might be able to earn enough rewards to cancel out the membership cost.

What is the cheapest Costco membership you can get? ›

The cheapest Costco membership is the Gold Star membership. The annual fee for this membership is $60.

Can I use my mom's Costco membership to get in? ›

The Costco membership card is non-transferable, but there are several ways to share the experience with family and friends. Anyone with a card can bring up to two guests to the Warehouse during each visit. Keep in mind that purchasing items is exclusive to Costco members.

Do you need Social Security to go to Costco? ›

The main Costco Credit Card requirements are that an applicant must be at least 18 years old with a valid Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification number.

Can I walk into Sam's Club without a membership? ›

Sam's Club membership is not a necessity to get in the door to check things out. There are items and services within Sam's Club that must be offered, by law, to non-members for purchase. So, if you want to just walk around the store and see the prices and offerings, go for it.

How do I give a complimentary Sam's Club membership? ›

How to add or edit cardholders on a Membership*
  1. Sign in to your online account.
  2. From the Account page and under the Membership section.
  3. Select Additional Cardholders.
  4. Choose to "Add" or "Edit" a complimentary or add-on cardholder.
  5. Enter the required info and click the [Save] button to finalize the change(s)

What is the $15 special offer at Sam's Club? ›

Your membership will be just $15.

12-month Club membership + 1 Complimentary Membership for someone in your household. 1% cash back on qualifying in-club purchases with Sam's Club Mastercard® Special savings in services like Tire & Battery, Pharmacy and Optical.

Will BJS cut meat for you? ›

Did you know that BJ's Butchers will custom-cut steaks, chops and more in-Club while you shop? Get to know your Club's Butcher today for expert tips and answers to all your fresh meat questions. Ruth Sheppard- Nugent and 46 others like this. Does your beef come from cows fed GMOs or antibiotics?

What does BJS stand for? ›

While a lot of people think the "BJ" in BJ's Wholesale Club stands for Berkley Jensen, one of its own brand lines, that isn't true, Byrnes said. Rather, the company's initials honor Beverly Jean, the daughter of company founder Mervyn Weich. The chain, headquartered in Massachusetts, opened in 1984.

Is shopping at BJS cheaper than Walmart? ›

So the axiom is true — buying in bulk is cheaper, most of the time. Costco wins the warehouse club price war by a few pennies. Sam's Club follows in a close second, and shopping at BJ's will save shoppers almost 14 percent over the same trip at Walmart.

Can I shop at BJs without a membership? ›

As a non-member, you will have to pay a 20 percent surcharge on what you buy. But should you decide to invest in a membership within seven days of using the one-day pass, you can ask for BJ's to apply the surcharge to your membership fee.

Is BJ's owned by Target? ›

In August 1997, Waban spun off BJ's to become an independent company, BJ's Wholesale Club, Inc., headquartered in Natick, Massachusetts, while Waban renamed itself to HomeBase, Inc. In 2011, BJ's was acquired by two private equity firms, Leonard Green & Partners and CVC Capital Partners.

Can I shop BJ's without a membership? ›

BJ's 1-Day Online Pass allows non-Member guests to experience the benefits of Bjs.com for 24 hours without purchasing a membership from BJs.com.

Is BJS cheaper than Sam's? ›

Yet, another review found that BJ's has the best prices followed by Sam's Club, and then Costco. Note, cost is all relative to the types of products you purchase—like organic or non-organic produce, for example—as well as the level membership you purchase, and your location.

Which one is cheaper Costco or Walmart? ›

And overall, while Costco prices are better, Walmart still has very good prices. For me, though, shopping in bulk as Costco allows me to do not only saves money but also time and energy since I can buy cases and big bags all at once!

Can I go to Costco without a membership? ›

When you visit a Costco warehouse, you'll discover all the valuable savings we have to offer. As a nonmember, you may still purchase prescriptions from a Costco pharmacy with cash, debit, Costco Shop Cards or a Visa® card. However, you must be a paid member to enter the warehouse and purchase any other items.

Is it worth it to get a Costco membership? ›

Is the standard Costco Gold Star Membership worth it? The standard Costco Gold Star membership is going to run you $60 per year. If you have a small family — or even if you live alone — and don't have a lot of space to store bulk food, I would say that any Costco membership won't be worth it for you.

How much do you need to spend at Costco to make membership worth it? ›

How much you'd need to spend to make Costco Executive Membership worthwhile. In order to receive $60 in reward dollars and recoup the $60 more that an Executive Membership costs, one must spend $3,000 over the course of the year at Costco on eligible purchases, an average of $250 a month.

Can I split a Costco membership with a friend? ›

If you're the Primary Member or Account Manager, you can assign your free household card to one other person in your home. That way they'll also get the benefits of a Costco membership.

How to get a Costco card for free? ›

Costco doesn't offer free or discounted memberships, but rest assured that the cost of membership can be recovered quickly thanks to massive price savings once you start shopping.

Can I shop in Sam's Club without a membership? ›

If you're going to regularly shop at Sam's Club, an annual membership would be more financially efficient. However, you are able to shop at the store if you purchase a guest pass with a 10% service fee charged on your items.

Can a normal person get a Costco card? ›

Yes anyone can be a member of Costco, there are 2 categories - trade and individual members.

Is it cheaper to buy eggs at Costco? ›

Some quick math or a glance at the finer print (aka the unit price) on Costco's price tag reveals that the price per dozen eggs is actually $2.995. That's nearly 50 cents less per dozen than Trader Joe's (and 65 cents less than Aldi).

Is bottled water cheaper at Costco or Walmart? ›

According to the report, consumers can also save 50 percent when purchasing a 24-pack of bottled water at Costco compared to just a single bottle at Walmart.

Is Costco meat cheaper? ›

Are Costco Meat Prices Competitive? Costco tends to run on the more expensive side. This is especially true when compared to supermarket specials and coupons that often undercut Costco pricing significantly. But when comparing the Costco price to your local butcher shop, Costco will usually win.

What is the #1 selling item at Costco? ›

That's right, Costco's best-selling item is toilet paper. They sell more than a billion rolls every year. The high quality and warehouse price of Costco's Kirkland brand toilet paper make it fly off the shelves every day.

What are the cons of Costco? ›

Take this short survey to help us find the best and worst Costco in America.
  • Warehouse items aren't available online. ...
  • Prices might be higher on the website. ...
  • There's no price matching. ...
  • Frozen items have additional fees. ...
  • Shipping is not free. ...
  • Some items can't be shipped. ...
  • There's a surcharge for non-members.
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