Should You Join Costco or Sam's Club?

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Photo credit: a katz/shutterstock
Could Switching Save You Money? We Pit Costco Against Sam's Club in a Wholesale Clubs Showdown A wholesale clubs comparison of Costco vs. Sam's Club we published this week helps consumers determine which store delivers the best value for their money. Whether they shop at Sam's or Costco, consumers can find an astonishing array of products and services and unbeatable deals. But look more closely at the two giants and differences emerge. Depending on individual needs and shopping habits, one store is likely a better value than the other. Our wholesale clubs comparison examines each store's strengths and weaknesses to help consumers figure out which one is right for them. Our shopping cart test compares the cost of supplying a family of four at both clubs. A haul of similar items that totaled more than $200 at each store cost about $12 less at Sam's Club. A six-pound package of chicken alone was $6 cheaper at Sam's. But Costco turned out to be 3.6% cheaper overall based on price per unit. For example, 40 packets of oatmeal at Sam's cost $1.51 less than a 52-count pack at Costco, but the price per packet was 8.9% lower at Costco. We also compared unit prices at Sam's Club and Costco to prices at the local supermarket and found that the wholesale clubs are more than 40% cheaper. Our price comparison table breaks down all the items on the shopping list. The comparison also includes services such as gas (2.3% cheaper at Sam's) and photo printing (26% cheaper at Costco). Sam's is the place to tune up your car, while Costco's travel department can book a cheap vacation (Sam's doesn't offer travel services and Costco doesn't offer in-store automotive services). We also analyze membership options at both clubs so consumers can compare the benefits, which include insurance and prescription discounts.