This Sam’s Club versus Costco comparison review has been updated for 2023. My wife and I are regular Costco shoppers. The membership warehouse has become one of the three grocery brands that we get most of our groceries from, pulling in at the #2 spot behind Trader Joe’s in annual spend these days (though Kroger is catching up with the discounts and promotions I’ve been able to find). If we could get an even greater share of our groceries at Costco, we would, but sometimes 96 ounce jars of mayo just aren’t practical.
I had always been curious about Sam’s Club, but had never given the chain a chance. With an American Express promotion giving targeted AmEx customers a free Sam’s Club membership (in the form of a statement credit), we had nothing to lose. So, we decided to give it try, in the hopes that it could provide some nice staple complements to the items we regularly stock up on at Costco.
Now that I’ve shopped at both chains, I thought readers might have an interest in a Sam’s Club versus Costco review. So, here it is (last updated for 2023). I didn’t want to just provide my opinion, but wanted to dig in to compare things like membership fees, return policies, branded credit cards, payment methods, hours of operation, number of locations, service offerings, item quality, price, and quantity, and even relationship with employees.
What follows is my take on the Sam’s Club vs Costco debate. I’d love to see yours in the comments as well.
A lot of the value of being a member is dependent on the perceived value you get from the price of membership. However, we’re just going to compare here on straight up price, not value (since everyone has a slightly different perceived value).
- Costco membership cost: $60 for the basic “Gold Star” or “Business” memberships, and $120 for the upgraded “Executive” version of each, which offer enhanced perks, including cash back rewards of 2% (up to $1,000 cash back) on qualified Costco purchases. There are a number of ways to shop at Costco for free without a membership, for one-off needs, but it would be difficult to sustain for regular purchases. Costco has gone on record to say that they will not be raising membership fees in 2022, but it has been speculated that they will in 2023.
- Sam’s Club membership cost: Sam’s Club raised the price for its basic “Club” membership to $50 and “Plus” membership to $110 on October 17, 2022 – their first price increase in over 9 years. The Plus membership offers enhanced perks, including cash back rewards of 2% on qualifying purchases (up to $500 cash back annually). Sam’s also offers early shopping hours and free shipping for Select Plus members, which are nice perks. There are also a number of ways to shop at Sam’s Club without a membership, including a free 90-day trial membership. There’s even a few free Sam’s Club membership opportunities that pop up here and there.
Winner: Sam’s Club. If we’re looking strictly at price alone, you have to give the nod to Sam’s Club on this one, at all membership levels. Note that the enhanced membership for Costco offers a higher cap on cash back ($1,000 vs. $500), but you’d have to spend over $10K annually to see a benefit there. That’s more than I’d recommend non-business consumers spending at any one retailer.
I have run the numbers on if a Costco Executive membership is worth the cost (as well as standard). The answer for me, is “yes”, but I did recently ask Costco for a membership fee rebate (pro-rated, as I fell short of break-even). They obliged.
Costco’s and Sam’s Club return policies can be found here, respectively:
Winner: Costco (slight edge). Both Costco and Sam’s Club have refreshingly generous return policies, which makes shopping at either a huge perk. For starters, both offer full refund on the cost of membership if you are unsatisfied with it. Both offer return of items at any time. There are some items that come with restraints at both retailers for good reason (e.g. certain electronics, batteries, tires, cigarettes, and alcohol). Where Costco gets the slight edge is that they have a shorter list of non-returnable items or items that must be returned within a time frame. Costco’s extended warranty on appliances and other big purchases is also outstanding.
Branded Credit Card Perks:
For this comparison, I think it’s important to look strictly at how the card benefits you at the retailer, versus it’s other perks.
- doubles as your membership card
- $0 annual fee (must be a Costco member)
- 4% cash back on gas purchases at Costco and other gas stations (up to $7,000 spent per year)
- 3% back on restaurants and most travel purchases
- 2% back at Costco and Costco.com
- 1% cash back on all other purchases
- doubles as your membership card
- $0 annual fee (cash back reward check only goes to Sam’s Club members)
- 5% back in Sam’s Cash at U.S. and Puerto Rico gas stations and on gas at Sam’s Club (on first $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1% on purchases after)
- 3% back in Sam’s Cash on dining and takeout
- 3% back in Sam’s Cash for Sam’s Club purchases (Plus members) or 1% cash back (Club members)
- 1% back in Sam’s Cash on other purchases
- No foreign transaction fees
Winner: Costco. The Sam’s Club credit card has a really sweet perk in 5% cash back at all gas stations that might make it worthwhile, even if you don’t regularly shop at Sam’s (note: to get cash back rewards, you must be a Sam’s Club member). However, if we’re weighing the value of these cards on their connection to the retailer, the 2% cash back at Costco and Costco.com is a huge perk that stands out between the two cards, as it doubles the 1% you would get at Sam’s with the Sam’s Club MasterCard (though that does increase to 3% if you have the $110 annual Plus membership). The Costco card rewards improvement emerged from the huge shift from AmEx to Citi a few years ago.
- Costco payment methods: Costco accepts all Visa cards, as well as cash, checks from members, traveler’s checks, most pin-based debit cards and ATM cards, mobile payment (Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay), EBT, and Costco Shop Cards. Photo identification and approval by a supervisor or manager may be required. A valid government-issued photo ID is required if you plan to pay by check. The options are more limited at Costco.com, Costco Gas Stations or Costco Car Washes (see the above link for more info).
- Sam’s Club payment methods: Sam’s Cash, Sam’s Club credit and Walmart credit, Walmart and Sam’s Club credit cards, cash or check, debit card, American Express, MasterCard, Discover, Visa credit cards, Walmart credit, SNAP/EBT, prepaid credit cards. Samsclub.com is a little more limited (see the above link for more info).
Winner: Sam’s Club. Costco’s move to Visa (all cards, not just the Costco Anywhere Visa) should result in easier payment for a lot of customers (versus AmEx exclusivity previously), however, Sam’s Club accepts all four major credit card providers: AmEx, Visa, Discover, and MasterCard.
Number of Locations:
Number of locations is less important than proximity to your residence. Be that as it may, more locations increases the potential that there will be a closer location to your residence.
- Costco locations: as of the time of publish, Costco has 583 locations in the US (including Puerto Rico).
- Sam’s Club locations: as of the time of publish, Sam’s Club has 600 US locations (including Puerto Rico).
Winner: Sam’s Club. Slightly.
Hours of Operation:
- Monday – Friday: 10 AM – 8:30 PM
- Saturday: 9:30 AM – 6 PM
- Sunday: 10 AM – 6 PM
- Monday – Friday: 10 AM – 8 PM (note: Sam’s offers “early shopping hours” for “Plus” members only are 8 AM – 10 AM).
- Saturday: 9 AM – 8 PM (early shopping hours for “Plus” members only are 8 AM – 9 AM).
- Sunday: 10 AM – 6 PM
Winner: Sam’s Club. Sam’s offers longer hours on Saturday and the early shopping hours for Plus members.
- Costco item selection: Costco claims to carry only about 4,000 SKUs. For the size of their warehouses, this is somewhat hard to believe, but they focus on fewer items as part of their strategy of focusing on quality.
- Sam’s Club item selection: Sam’s Club hasn’t shared the number of SKUs that they carry, however, it is clear that they pack significantly more SKUs into their locations than Costco does.
Winner: Sam’s Club.
- Costco item quality: Costco’s choice to limit (and even cut back) their SKUs has allowed them to focus more on quality of item. Costco’s food and alcohol selection (if that’s your thing) includes a strong lineup of generic “Kirkland” branded products, which are typically very high quality. I created a Costco alcohol price list for those who are curious and an extensive review of Costco Kirkland dog food & cat food.
- Sam’s Club item quality: while Sam’s Club did carry a few higher end products and organic options, I found the overall selection here to be limited compared to Costco. If name brand products is your thing (I wouldn’t recommend it), you will be much happier with the familiar brands at Sam’s Club. If organic and healthy options are your thing, you will not. Random related note: I bought a giant container of black pepper at Sam’s Club that absolutely ruined a few dishes due to its poor taste. I just don’t think that would happen at Costco.
Winner: Costco. I tend to be pretty judicious when it comes to what I put in my body and Costco’s food selection is much more focused on items that are organic, with simple natural ingredients with less preservatives and fillers, and raised with a more sustainable focus (e.g. hormone-free, cage-free, grass-fed dairy, meat, and eggs). At Sam’s Club, there is much more of a focus on popular brands, which non-coincidentally often have much less healthy ingredients, in general.
Winner: Inconclusive (but possible slight edge to Costco). This one is tough because of the difference in product selection and product attributes. Costco has fewer SKUs and generally higher quality products, which makes price comparisons difficult, if not impossible. I actually brought in my Costco receipts and used my phone to compare prices on similar items (i.e. similar volume and qualities such as organic).
Costco does have a notably larger selection of products with its high-quality generic “Kirkland Signature” store brand, whereas Sam’s Club is much more focused on popular (and often overpriced) name brands. I think that’s important to note.
In a very limited sample size, I found Costco to come out ahead about 2 out of every 3 apple-to-apple comparisons (excluding brand name), looking at cost per volume. Could this be due to limited SKU (which cuts cost for the company)? It’s possible. But I don’t have a broad enough sample size to conclude this definitively. And every individual shoppers results are going to vary based on their purchase preferences.
I’ve also found Costco’s pharmacy prices to be cheaper than Sam’s Club or any other pharmacy. We purchase our dog’s insulin there and it is consistently the cheapest location in town.
Buying groceries is one thing, but what about other service based product offerings? These are membership retailers, so the service part of the deal is important to a lot of members. Here’s what they both offer:
- Costco service products: pharmacy, cheap flu shots, optical/hearing center, tire/battery, gas, photo, business services, travel, auto-buying program, in-store restaurant (food court cafe), insurance.
- Sam’s Club service products: pharmacy, cheap flu shots, optical/hearing center, tire/battery, gas, photo, business services, travel, auto-buying program, in-store restaurant (food court cafe), insurance.
Winner: Tie. Do the lists look similar? They are. I’d give Costco the slight nod in group insurances offered and Sam’s the nod in other business services. Other than that, they are strikingly identical, right down to the types of foods offered in the in-store restaurant and their prices (frozen yogurt and pizza, FTW!).
Employee Pay & Benefits:
Last but not least, I think it’s important for any consumer to place a value on how well the businesses they frequent choose to treat their rank and file employees in terms of pay, benefits, work hours, holidays, and more.
Costco Pay & Benefits:
- Costco pay: cashiers @ ~$17.58/hour, warehouse stockers @ ~$20.91/hour
- Costco benefits: Health, dental, life, disability, AD&D, vision, pharmacy plans. 401K match (annual contribution to their account, which is based on a percentage of eligible earnings. This percentage increases with employee’s years of service). Employee stock purchase plan.
- Costco work hours: see above.
- Costco Holidays (no business hours): New Year’s Day, Easter, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas
Sam’s Club Pay & Benefits:
- Sam’s Club pay: cashiers @ ~$15.58/hour, stockers @ ~$15.75/hour:
- Sam’s Club benefits: Health, dental, life, disability, AD&D, vision, pharmacy plans. 401K match (up to 6% of salary). Employee stock purchase plan (with company match).
- Sam’s Club work hours: see above.
- Sam’s Club Holidays (no business hours): New Year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas
Winner: Costco. Without getting full PTO details and insurance costs, it’s difficult to fully compare the benefits package between the two. But when it comes to pay (at least in the samples that have reported their pay to a 3rd party), Costco is clearly the winner, with cashiers and stock staff making more, on average, than their Sam’s Club counterparts – though the gap has closed in recent years. It’s also been said that Costco pay increases happen more frequently and there is a much higher cap than with Sam’s Club/Walmart employees. Additionally Costco employees don’t have the potential to get drawn into extended morning and Saturday hours as Sam’s Club employees do, or 3 additional holidays to work (Memorial, Independence, and Labor Days). And then there’s reputation. Costco has been said to treat employees very well, while Walmart has a long history of the opposite.
Sam’s Club Vs. Costco: Review Summary
If the name of the game is saving money and you don’t care too much about the ingredients in the foods that you put into your body, you may be able to save some money at Sam’s Club. And you may have a little more luck finding the product type you are looking for. Sam’s also gets the nod in hours of operation and membership cost ($10 savings per year).
It’s worth noting that even though I’ve been a loyal Costco customer, I visited Sam’s Club wanting it to succeed (the more cheap foods for me to stock up on, the better!). However, having shopped at both and doing significant research for this article, I simply like Costco much more. Their huge selection of generic Kirkland brand products provide an excellent value, and their foods are more focused on quality and health. I come away from Costco with a full cart of products every time, but with Sam’s, I could only find a few handfuls of products that I felt good about purchasing. I feel much better about maintaining a cost of membership at Costco and don’t believe I will renew my membership at Sam’s unless they significantly increase their organic selection in the next year. The Costco Visa, with its 2% cash back rewards at Costco is another huge perk.
Additionally, Costco pays and treats its employees better, which makes me feel more positive about being a customer. In light of the 2018 news of Sam’s Club closing 63 stores and laying off 10,000 employees without warning, I feel even more strongly about this verdict, and highlighted how to get your Sam’s Club membership fee refunded and switch to Costco.
Costco Vs Sam’s Club: what’s your take?
I’ve been a member of both and Costco wins hands down to Sam’s.
Better stores, more variety in products, and great prices.
I’m all about efficiency.. There are many things I won’t buy at Sams simply because of quality.. but the things I do get there I go because it used to be really quick.
You can place orders online and walk in and pick it up without dealing with the store and shopping around other people. Saves a few hours easily…
HOWEVER, the store I typically go to has been dropping the ball lately and can’t get this one simple thing right… So my renewal for 2017 is currently in Question. Perhaps I’ll look at Costco as an option..
Costco is definitely worth a shot. Check out my post on how to shop at Costco for free if you want to do a trial walk-through.
How to start a free trail from Costco, is there a tax free for business resale?
I’ve never been to a Sam’s Club, but the quality of Costco items (especially Kirkland Signature) for the price seems unbeatable. My husband and I also frequently buy clothing at Costco; I think I’m slowly replacing my entire wardrobe with Costco-bought stuff. I get the feeling that, in any given product category, whoever is choosing which SKU’s to stock takes extra care to make sure they’re choosing something of very high quality and reasonable price for their customers. It’s like having a personal shopper in that you don’t have to worry too much about whether it’ll be a good product or not. What I’m feeling from your post is that Sam’s Club doesn’t follow that model.
I still have a bone to pick with you about the organic thing! How have you not figured out yet that organic produce/meats are no different, health-wise, than non-organic counterparts? And don’t even get me started on so-called “non-GMO” products… It’s all marketing nonsense.
I agree that the whole GMO aversion is a load of bull. However, the argument between the difference of buying organic vs. inorganic would be a great article to write next! I’d be curious for the breakdown in that…
How can you say there is no difference between organic and non organic. Do your research before posting nonsense
@GBL – Your first paragraph is accurate.
On the second paragraph, we’ll have to agree to disagree. The jury is still out on GMO’s, but you can’t tell me that spraying pesticides/herbicides (that are toxic and designed to kill living organisms) all over produce has zero impact on the ecosystem and the animals and humans that eat them. Organic clearly has less of an impact. And if I can get organic food at Costco for less than most people pay for non-organic, why wouldn’t I? It’s not always about the money.
@GEMIller The jury is not still out on GMOs. There is a global scientific consensus that GM is no more dangerous than modification through other breeding methods. The same scientific agencies that you trust on issues such as anthropogenic climate change and vaccine safety/efficacy also concur that GMOs are safe.
Many transgenic plants (like Bt soy) actually reduce the need for pesticides and enable environmentally friendly practices like no-till farming. Organic cultivation also uses pesticides, including many which are more toxic than their conventional counterparts.
As a regular reader for many years I urge you to question your preconceptions and research this subject further with an open mind.
You need to do more research and take your own advice, as you said, to “question your preconceptions and research this subject further with an open mind.”
I would like to just point out California as an example of pesticides being a danger to the community, the environment, animals, important insects, and people in general. I lived in California for almost 2 years when I turned 18 and I immediately realized that there are barely any birds insects that are beautiful. Hardly ever saw a bee, hardly ever saw butterflies, people are sick almost all the time there not just because of the air pollutants it’s also because the chemicals they spray on their oranges everything else that they grow. And then here recently I was dating a trucker for a little while and was able to go on some runs with him. We had to bring bees into California. Apparently they have to do this regularly because the bees are being killed by all the pesticides. It’s ridiculous! And then we put this into our body, these things that are killing all of these animals and insects and birds and I choose organic because I don’t believe that we should be putting these things in our body. I just wanted to give California as a good example and how you are correct. There will always be people who disagree with it because they believe it’s just the government trying to get us to spend more money or whatever. But ultimately science has proven time and time again organic is better. And the prices for organic versus non-organic are getting so close in a range anyways so don’t know how it’s a marketing technique anymore lol.
My sister-in-law’s father is a farmer and rancher selling “organic” products and the supposedly better for you, and them, meats. Guess what? They aren’t He does everything he says he doesn’t and gets away with it due to lack of proper regulation. Until there is consistent and proper regulation you have no idea what you are truly getting.
There is…its called “certified organic”. A world of difference from just meaningless “organic” so-called products. When it’s labeled “certified organic” the farms have to meet rigorous requirements, be inspected at least yearly, and invest a ton to earn their certification…never buy anything that says simply “organic”, or you could get a counterfeit product from a farm thats as you described. Always make sure it’s “certified organic” and highly regulated, that way you know it’s really worth that high price you are paying!
Won’t repeat what others have already said but I will add that organic most certainly does use pesticides.
Organic is a huge multi-billion dollar industry. Not as big as traditional ag but still very large. They have lobbyists and use deceptive marketing just like everyone else.
They want you to think that organic = pesticide-free. It’s not true. The pesticides that organic uses are still toxic and often times more toxic than the synthetic alternatives.
Also, the idea that organic has less of an impact is definitely not true either. Organic crops have lower yield than traditional which means more land, more chemicals, and more work (= more CO2 emissions) are required to produce the same amount of food as conventional ag.
If you go onto the USDA website and look at the list of approved pesticides/herbicides for organic produce I think you might change your mind…. also look at their study on trace chemicals found in organic vs nonorganic food. They both contain the same amount of chemical.
@GBL Organic just generally tastes better and smells better. And the research favoring organic food seems to to be of much higher quality and with far fewer flaws than research favoring food that is not organic. Also I very much agree with your first paragraph:)
There’s no conclusive scientific evidence showing that organic is any “healthier” than non-organic counterparts, which is frequently implied in this blog. As far as the “tasting and smelling better,” this seems to be subjective as I’ve found the opposite to be true. Now, I’ll buy organic if it’s a better deal or if it’s a product I particularly want for some reason, but not when there is a perfectly good, less-expensive non-organic equivalent.
It may or may not be true about the nutritional part. but what I can say is that I started getting Blue Apron, which is all organic, and the taste cannot be beat. There are fruits and vegetables I never really liked, like pears and plums, bok choy, chard and other greens, which have a whole different taste. delicious is all I can say. Plump, sweet juicy plums compared to the hard, tasteless variety (non-organic). Even apples and oranges are so much more juicy and delicious. Yes, its more expensive, but now I cant go back to the old tasteless variety. At 74 I was completely taken aback with the difference. I thought I was imagining how good food was all those years ago.
Placebo much? I believe many double blind tests have proved it is a coin toss, except non-organic edged out as tasting slightly better than organic.
You could have saved a lot of time by just informing your readers that Sam’s Club is owned and operated by Walmart and that both should be avoided on principle because of both their quality and business practices.
Did you read the Employee Pay/Benefits and Item Quality sections?
Maybe include info on CEO pay.
1. Is Costco CEO pay low for a CEO. Is it $500,000 a year? Are there other forms of compensation?
2. What is Sam’s Club’s CEO pay and comp?
That isn’t going to happen. They hire people that need a second job, not a career (unless they are management with a college degree). They also give so much to our community. I live in a rural community that appreciates the help given by Walmart. If you can avoid them, do it. But here, we are so happy to have Walmart. The next largest town is 115 miles away. Without them we would have no place to shop. I still have to drive 30 miles.
A very well thought out review! How many people consider the employees when shopping, beside the social responsibility, it is an important indicator of the stores business model and I have seen many reviews of Costco customers and employees who are fiercely loyal to the company. Personally I have visited 2 of each store, the Sams was dirty, my gf walked out because of this; Costco was bright and appeared clean. As for the commenter who doesn’t believe the organic labeling there are many farmers who strive to produce better food and want to protect their [our] environment, they deserve support! Do your own test on a small sample, it will be obvious. There are associations that have guidelines for their members, a little research is needed. This review is an excellent consumer aid, kudos to the author!
I totally agree with you. I really liked this article and I was deciding if I should renew my Sam’s card or go with Costco. I have made my decision.
I have both Costco and Sam’s Club memberships and I shop at both. About 3 years ago I noticed that many, many fruits and vegetables I bought at Sam’s Club had mold inside the packaging. I noticed this when I got them home and opened them. It was on the bottom. So I returned them with no hassle, but then I started really looking and was surprised to find that most of the products in the fruit sections had mold growing inside the packaging. I just quit buying their produce. I did continue to shop there and especially bought gasoline at the pumps there and the fuel savings alone pays for the membership yearly. No joke on that. I usually save close to $2 every time I fill up at Sam’s over the other local pumps and filling up weekly, well you can do the math. But I do not buy any produce at Sam’s. The nearest Costco to my home is over 20 miles away and Sam’s is just under 2 miles. I still find that Costco has more of what I need and want to buy than Sam’s club, so I make the trip more often now. Just minor planning. Sam’s gets the nod from me on convenience of location and with their lower membership costs and the fact that I do purchase most of my fuel from them means I will keep their card for now. Should they build a Costco in my town, with fuel pumps, Sam’s would be gone. They are a minor convenience at best. I wear 2xL size shirts and rarely can I find any. I swear they stock 2000 shirts in sizes S-XL and only stock 2 shirts in my size. I just quit looking. I find I am buying cereal, printer stuff, candy for work, pens and gasoline. That’s about all I buy there now. And Ike I said, it’s mainly because they are just so near to my house. Great review here. Thanks.
Note to self: Don’t buy Sam’s Club produce.
I agree with you. I’m a frequent shopper at Sam’s Club and I always buy their big bag of Iceberg Salad. More times than not the salad is in bad shape and I have to pick through it to find a decent looking bag. I also think Costco’s have more variety of products on the shelves as well.
Do you ever do a price comparison of typical items? Are they pretty comparable? Great post, by the way!
We have been a member of both whole sale clubs. We just become a member of whichever is available in our area, since we moved several times across the US. Both have an excellent meat products that we buy meat a lot at Sam’s now. If we buy RV in near future, Sam’s credit card is a must have for us, I just don’t like the fact that cash rewords can be redeemed only once a year.
We love Costco! With 5 kids at home, it’s an easy option. We do still shop one other stores for the big sales and stock up on those staples. Like when a pound of whole wheat pasta is .78 cents. (Costco has almost no selection of whole wheat past.) And I love how they run their company. They have a strong customer first mentality.
Lol I was in there with my husband and I forgot something so I went to the back to get it. We had more than $500 worth of groceries so he started loading it on the Belt. When he got up to the front of the line the cashier snapped at him and said this is not your membership you’ll have to go to the membership desk. He replied oh that’s my wife’s card she’s just grabbing something she’ll be right up here just start ringing. The gal said no, within seconds I arrived and she said oh now I can bring it. He told her what she could do with it I was confused because I wanted to stuff. He refuses to shop at Costco cuz he says they got attitude LOL. Interesting enough a similar thing happened at Sam’s Club and the cashier told him he look nothing like his picture. I’m just saying. Besides that Sam’s Club comes in in my opinion at least 5% less expensive than Costco period especially now that they just jacked up their memberships again. Definitely prefer Sam’s Club
As an employee at Sam’s Club the review comparisons are so true ! Me and the people I work with wish home office and the managers cared just a little about the employees instead of just themselves. Sams truly does keep taking away benifits and pay each year. Don’t let the new 10 hr for new hires fool you. All they did was take that away from other benifits. So they are not paying out more to employees. The attitude of managers when they don’t make the sales that they want, take it out on the employees while wanting the work of a full crew to be done with only a half of a crew. This is not just some mad employee mouthing off. This is years of consistent patterns and attitudes send and noticed by many ! The LOVE of money is the root of all evil…..( 1 Tim 6:10 )….Businesses need to make a profit but when morality, ethics’s, right and wrong, truth, commen sense and Godly principals are forgotten and get throne out and it’s all done for personal gain, well then you know your working at Sams Club. True capitalism that should work for both employees and employers gets perverted by the greed of the people in power.
The last I heard, this is a free country, and you are allowed to work where you want.
Colossians 3:23 & 24. Do your work as unto the Lord. If you aren’t going to look for something that allows you to practice this, that is on you, and badmouthing them isn’t going to help change the culture.
Amazon did the same thing. “You want $15/hr? Fine. You got it! But now you’re not getting a bonus”. Employees need to look at the big picture and not just hourly rate. Employers are going to pay you what the market demands and not a penny more. If you demand a rate that’s higher than the market rate, you will be replaced with alternatives. Look no further than fast food: as soon as they start “demanding” $15/hr, now you see kiosks popping up everywhere. Coincidence? Think not!
If you’re unhappy with what you’re making, get a skill that’s in demand in the marketplace. It’s really that simple.
We have both clubs. But for me Sam’s wins when comes to check out on busy days and holidays. My reason is so very simple. Sam offers a scan and go app. I don’t have to wait in long lines where usually it’s hot. I don’t have to unpack just to have it repacked. I scan as we put in cart, already have payment on the app. By pass all the long lines and out the door. Did once with neighbors. Started same time with them waiting and me scan and go. I was home and unpacked having a cold beer when they pulled in.
Agree love scan and go!!!
“Scan and Go” is so amazing, except when it comes to scanning those pesky bananas.
Overall, I prefer Costco due to the quality of the produce and food compared to Sam’s, but I currently live in an area that only has Sam’s. If Costco were to move in to the area, the only thing holding me back would be the Scan and God app (and the “frequently ordered” website feature where you can quickly load up a cart and pick it up later, saving a bunch of shopping time).
For me Sam’s Club wins! Gas is cheaper than Costco, The national brands are about 5% cheaper, Better meat than anywhere else. I agree Costco has better organic options and gluten free but they are jacking their prices for memberships again! I probably will not renew next time $60 bucks or $115 when both are $15 bucks cheaper at Sam’s and I can use scam and go, or wait in LONG lines at Costco it’s a no brainer. I do wish Sam’s paid their employees better.The ones at the club I go to really are GREAT.and the store is always clean.
Was to read….Scan and Go…hate auto correct
I won’t use Sam’s club gas due to it not being a Top Tier gas. That’s why most ppl will want in those lines for that reason.
You didn’t review the scan & go app at Sam’s club. The fact that you can scan your items and check yourself out without ever waiting in a line other than the receipt check is amazing and a deal-breaker in the Costco v. Sam’s club debate.
I’ve been a Sam’s club business plus member for 15+ years.
Every 2-3 years I go with a neighbor to Costco to reevaluate.
My Sam’s club & Costco are in Maryland & SW Florida. Same experience at both. Easy h very close to the other.
Still with Sam’s. It’s never been close.
My time is worth a lot. So getting 2 weeks shopping done and driving away in 30 minutes during early business hour is fantastic.
The new, to me, Shop & Go app is pretty amazing and efficient also.
Meat, fruit, veggies, bread, milk, eggs are frequently on my list. Very competitive pricing.
Fruit, I check carefully before I buy. I like that I can pop open a grape container and taste a grape before buying. Costco fruits are sealed by the CIA I think.
Parking, not mentioned in the article, but important to me that there be parking.
Sam’s club huge parking lots. Easy to get a space on the busiest days.
Costco undersized lots. Always a problem finding a space. Even just after they open I ended up parking a block away.
Sam’s does have a great quality house brand, Member’s Mark. Limited number of products.
Regarding employees. Wal-Mart & Sam’s club are so bad I hear no one works there any more.
Oops, forgot they are the largest employer in the U.S..
Many of the employees at my Sam’s club have been there for 10+ years.
Fantastic and comprehensive comparison; thank you. I had formed an opinion, but I wasn’t sure if I had done that subconsciously in order to be “a creature of habit”.
When you compare Costco gasoline with that of Sam’s Club, you need to realize that Costco sells Top Tier gasoline whereas Sam’s Club does not. Consequently, the quality of the gasoline at Costco is better than that at Sam’s Club.
True on the fuel difference, but it is only better quality if you consider Top Tier fuels with added detergents to be superior to other gasoline.
The biggest negative to Costco, I have both memberships, is the crowd. In my area, it’s like a meat market. Hard to get around the store and very long lines at the register. At Sam’s everyone is laid back and I can move around much more freely. Comfort when shopping is a big plus for me. I’ve actually left Costco and went straight over to Sam’s because it was jut too crowded. Other than that, I go to Sam’s for the meat, gas, and water. Everything else is a Costco item.
Sams Club is cleaner and the snack bar area is cleaner. Sams Club is less crowded so I don’t need to wait in long lines.
I am a member of both Sam’s Club and Costco. I will not be renewing my Sam’s club membership this year and here’s why!
It all started when we purchased a Serta iComfort king mattress set online from Sam’s Club. After having the bed 2.5 years, we had a warranty claim. The bed sagged severely and couldn’t be slept on anymore. The customer service people on the phone were very nice, but the follow through was extremely poor. August 14th, 2017 this fiasco started. It took multiple calls and emails to get them to finally order MXD shipping company to pick up, but the invoice was written to pick up only one item, the mattress. The company would not take the boxsprings :( It took another month of me calling and emailing and finally calling MXD back and the shipping company had to all Sam’s Club and remind them that they needed to put an additional order in for them to pickup the boxsprings. I felt that Sam’s club thought it was somehow my fault that they did not properly order the return of the set. Now it is October 31st and I talk to Andrew this time, and he tells me that the manual refund had not gone to the proper department and he promised me that he did it properly and that Hailey, a corporate agent would contact me to finalize my manual refund by Friday, November 3rd. Needless to say she didn’t. So, I spend my Friday night calling the Sam’s 800 number THREE times, because we were disconnected twice as I waited on hold. The 3rd time I talked to Broderick and he gave me the number to call the Sam’s Serta people directly. The number 888-287-5343 asks for some password, clearly the wrong number. So now I don’t have the $2000 bed I bought and no refund and it doesn’t seem that I will ever get one.
So let me get this straight…. You have a 2.5 year old bed that needs warranty replacement and you are angry with SAMS and not the manufacturer? It isn’t a SAMS club issue. So if you buy a cell phone at SAMS and COSTCO do you expect them to get involved if it fails within the warranty period? A 10 year bed warranty is on Serta and not SAMS or COSTCOs responsibility!
A brief story. When we first moved to San Diego (1974) we began shopping at Fedmart, a discount no-frills department/supermarket store that offered excellent value – the brainchild of Sol Price. Within a year or so it was bought out by a German company that tried to class it up and ended up in bankruptcy.
Sol Price then pioneered the very successful low price, high volume membership warehouse – Price Club – at Morena Blvd in San Diego. It was an instant success and expanded rapidly to hundreds of stores. Noting it’s success, a competitor, Costco, started up in 1983 and also expanded rapidly. In 1993 Costco and Price Club merged into what is today’s Costco.
We have shopped at Price Club and later Costco since 1976 – 41 years – and it is our go-to place for most items unless the sizes are too large to avoid spoilage.
We have developed a strong respect for Costco’s philosophy of quality and value. We know that we can return almost anything we buy there that doesn’t satisfy us or live up to it’s claims but we rarely find it necessary. Thanks to the cash back on their store cards (AMEX and now Visa) we have earned $300 to $500 rebates every year (Executive members). We have also used the Costco discount auto buying program which provided a stress free discounted vehicle purchase on three occasions.
If I had to boil down our relationship with Costco – it would be one word: TRUST.
I do agree with other commenters that Costco’s long lines at times are annoying and off-putting but since we are retirees, we can shop there when it is least crowded and we don’t experience the long delays, so not a significant factor for us. I must say that the Sam’s Club Scan and Go feature described by others sounds great and I wish Costco would adopt it.
Scan and Go is so amazing. I hate standing in lines, but love zipping around people checking out (and knowing the exact cost of the items in my cart). If Costco adopted it (and moved into my area), I’d switch immediately.
I’d kill for a Costco in my area. Sam’s Club employees aren’t happy and it shows. If it weren’t for the fuel discount price I would have dropped them after the first of numerous rude encounters. Sam’s Club is at best a clean Walmart (In my area that is a insult of the first order). Disgruntled employees and lazy supervision. As much as I hate to I have been throwing my hard earned money at Amazon. I chafe at giving money to a retailer that’s ambivalent or downright uncivil about receiving it.
We used to be Costco members but switched to Sam’s Club a few years back. We get bonus points when we use are Credit Union Master Card but it’s not accepted at Costco. Most of the products that we purchase are basically the same at both stores. As far as location they are both right next door to each other.
My Sams is one that is closing. It was located between 2 decent size cities. The manager said last year was the best year they ever had, but somehow they still closed it. It was always packed with customers when we went. Now our only option is to drive the next city over to to get to a location. There is also a Costco near the Sams. I’ll be taking my business to Costco from now on, and try to avoid Walmart also. Sam’s has definitely upset ALOT of people in our city.
I wish Costco still took Amex. I’ve got a Starwood Amex Card and use it for free stays at hotels often. Still, I’ll shop at both but mostly at Sam’s.
I used to have the executive costco membership but downgraded to basic this year as I wasn’t able to recover the $60 fee additional fee through cash back rewards.
Costco has nicer holiday gift baskets.
Reading all that is wrong with California they really do need a major earthquake to be re-newed.
I’ve been a member of Costco since 2004 and I will not renew this year. #1 reason: Sam’s has early opening hours for members at $100 level. I do all of my shopping at 8:00am as soon as I drop the kids at school. I frequently have the whole store to myself! #2 reason is self-checkout (or Sam’s scan & go app). Sorry, Costco. I’m not waiting in line and I’m not going to shop with the crowds!
You didn’t add that Sam’s Club has profit sharing with a yearly bonus that takes an employees salary up a notch.
In my opinion, Sam’s is better because of their travel and auto buying benefits
Let me say up front that my wife and I, far and away, prefer Costco over Sams. So, we are biased, and we’ll admit that. That said, I found this article unfair against Sams based on three things:
First, when counting category wins, Sams wins 5-4 with two “ties” (a declared tie and an “inconclusive,” which I’m equating to a tie). Yet, you declare Costco the winner.
Second, your overall tone indicates a clear bias toward Coscto despite an attempt to be fair. For example, you repeatedly call the “Kirkland” brand “high end,” implying Sams store brand is low end. Also, the extreme emphasis on Costco’s organic foods implies Sams does not have or does not care about organic foods, Additionally, and the overall word choice indicate a less-than-fair comparison.
Third, I read your bio and it seems you don’t have kids. Many of us do, and that is a major, MAJOR, factor in choosing things, and not just foods. What about toiletries, soaps, household items? What about clothing? What about gasoline price differences? You need to consider readers who have families with kids (we have three). Your article seems geared toward younger people without kids who are bachelors or newly married, rather than most of the world with kids.
All that said, we agree that Costco is better and here’s why: the quality is a major factor for us. Something may cost less up front, but if you have to replace it more often, you end up spending more. Also, service matters. Sams feels like Walmart on steroids, and our experience with the Walmart Corp is that they have less than poor service (which is also why we prefer Target over Walmart). These factors alone led us to choose Costco over Sams.
Sams Scan and go has been the best innovation offered of any place of business that I have ever shopped at. Couple that with Costco limiting the cards they accept, not open on a few major holidays Sams is, hours of operation earlier if needed and it’s hard for me to accept that Costco cares more about their customers than Sams. And BTW, paying employees more doesn’t always mean the customer get treated any better. I am also an avid golfer and the Kirkland golf ball fiasco infringing on major golf ball manufacturer copy write of their product all ads up to enough reason to pay $15 less for a Sams vs Costco yearly membership. BTW, Sams quality of meat and meat prices are every bit as good if not better than Costco. I do not like having to by such large quantities of a lot of food items makes both companies wasteful for the average consumer at home whom are the most frequent purchasers.even if the price per can or per ounce is cheaper than the grocery store. But if it expires or goes to waste or the family just didn’t like it enough to eat the large quantity, the price maybe isn’t as good as it seems.
Sam Walton was too dam smart for his generation, he wanted a great product too the masses. GM, Dodge brothers & Ford wanted that.
I know that Costco is affiliated with Square Trade for extended warranties. Is Sam’s Club affiliated with anyone
We used to maintain both a Sam’s & Costco membership for convenience and the different benefits as outlined above. We had small kids at home, went through hot dogs and chips that are cheaper at Sam’s. The only gas was sold at Costco. Buying tires one year, the savings at Sam’s club paid for the year membership. Constantly re-evaluating which we should have memberships with.
Then we went down to one income and it was time to pick one. No big purchases on the horizon so we looked closely at our weekly purchases: Groceries and cleaning supplies.
I went through Costco and made a detailed shopping of items that we buy noting the per ounce price. Then went to Sam’s club. Trust me, this took all day with a calculator.
The size/shape/weights are different even when it’s the same items. Trash bags – at one store it’s 100 bags, the other it’s 125. Canned meat, one store has 4 – 8 oz cans, the other has 3 – 12oz cans. Bags of lettuce, one store was 18oz, the other was 20oz. nothing was the same. One store would have the price per unit, the other had a price per ounce.
After WORKING on this all day breaking each item into a per ounce price for groceries that we purchase. Costco was the clear winner.
My beef with Costco:
At Costco a $60 membership gives you a card in your name and a “free” secondary card, which can be used by anyone, as long as that person has proof that they reside at the same address as you..
At Sam’s Club a $45 membership also gives you two cards, BUT the two people do not have to reside at the same address i.e. my neighbor and I can share a membership.
It appears that Costco discriminates against people who live alone. I think my neighbor and I would buy as much merchandise as a couple who live at the same address – perhaps more.
Costco standards are DEFINITELY DROPPING…. Used to be able to buy a vanilla chocolate or swirl frozen yogurt at their food court for $1.35… Just recently they changed that… ONLY the vanilla is $1.35… and OMG the swirl yogurt is now $2.99. are you kidding me? I have bought organic carrots 10 pounds for about $5.50 BUT the date of the product is sometime A MONTH OLD… A month old carrots… organic or not, I’ll pass. Oh, ab out quality products… Would YOU give someone you care about a product that specifically states THIS PRODUCT HAS BEEN SHOWN TO CAUSE CANCER IN CALIFORNIA”? Forgive me, but whoever the Costco buyer is NEEDS to reconsider.. You won’t find me just TRUSTING that Costco is looking out for me & selling healthy products. Recently they dropped the cat litter product… it WAS $7.99 for 42 pounds… NOW the new brand is $11.99 for 42 pounds… Sorry Charlie… I’m looking elsewhere & actually dropping my membership at the end of July… If they REALLY make 75% of their profits from memberships, then my executive membership for $120 WILL impact… one at a time.. WHERE WE SPEND OUR MONEY IS OUR VOTE… I’m NOT spending at Costco anymore… They lost me.
Name something which hasn’t been shown to cause cancer in California?
I’m a member of both Sam’s Club and Costco and a former Sam’s Club employee. Sam’s Clubs are currently changing their store layouts to copy Costco (Costco with close to a hundred fewer stores doubles Sam’s revenues) however they’re still cluttering their shelves, freezers and coolers with too many sku’s and of course continue to underpay their employees. Sam’s also links employee compensation and hours to sales, where Costco does not. When sales fall Sam’s knee jerk reaction (company policy) is to cut employee hours and impose hiring freezes, thereby providing diminished customer service and lowering employee morale. Someone in Arkansas apparently figuring providing poor customer service will somehow magically improve sales.
I recently was having the dilemma to renew my Sam’s Club membership or switch to Costco this year. I looked up a few items online and Sam’s was by far cheaper for those items. Also Sam’s is 15 minutes away and Costco over 30 minutes away in a crowded town and the only one in the area so it is very crowded. I decided to stick with Sam’s Club and go with my neighbor to Costco.
Thank you for this review. We are considering switching to a Sam’s membership this year. We are not getting out of our Costco executive membership what we were promised, plus my husband thinks that Sam’s might have a better selection of items. It seems like you are saying that Sam’s might stock a greater selection of items, but they are more expensive, name-brand items. I personally shop for the cheaper, store brand items because we have a large family. Plus, I do care about what I put in our bodies, and I have come to love all the simple ingredient lists and more health-conscience offerings at Costco. I think I will give Sam’s a trial run just to see if I can find the same kinds of things. Otherwise, Costco seems like a clear winner. I LOVE their produce; it always lasts a LONG time. If Sam’s produce is often moldy as other commenters have said, I will not be happy. I live 20 miles from both, so I’m not going to be able to just run back and exchange it. One thing I wished you had compared too, is the amount and size of the samples. I know that is less important, but my family likes to make an afternoon of going to Costco and sampling things because we feel it’s one of the benefits of spending for a membership!
Note that if you are military or retired military, both clubs give give an incentive for joining, but only Sam’s will give the same reward upon renewing your membership. Costco is for first-time membership only.
I currently have both memberships. I take Costco hands down over Sam’s club In everything. The only reason I kept Sam’s is just because it was closer to work. I love Costco customer service where Sam Club funnels you to useless customer service reps that simply do not care to service. Just for to share been a Sam’s member since 1997 and Costco since 2009 and I see the difference customer service comes first.
As someone who works for Sams and has interviewed with Costco, I will say that Costco employees are paid higher however they expect you to be available 24/7 with no schedule. I am able as a college student to work for Sam’s Club. It is also much higher pay than other places in the area. I have never shopped at Costco so I won’t comment on that.
I’ve been a member of both Sam’s and Costco. I recently moved to the Jacksonville, FL area and decided to stay with Sam’s. However, I have always loved shopping at Costco and the main reason is because Costco employees seems to care more about their store more so than Sam’s. My wife now hates shopping at Sam’s because she doesn’t like that they do not care about customer service and want you to use the Scan and go. The lines at Sam’s are long, you can’t find a person to assist you and just recently I was put on hold for more than 12 minutes when trying to ask the Auto Center what time my appointment was and to make sure I had the right day. Now, I called several times before their closing time and the customer service counter, just let the phone ring and ring and ring. Well, my membership will be up in August 2019 and I can tell you, that I’ve been a loyal Sam’s customer for more than 30 plus years and ever since moving to the Jacksonville, FL., area they just gave me an easy choice from here on out. I will drop my membership and will never again become a Sam’s member and oh yes, I’m a Sam’s Plus member for most of those 30 years and no one never did answer the phone and believe I let the phone ring for more than 10 minutes. I can also say that I love the different salads that Costco have and I always liked their ice cream. Oh, and most important of all you don’t have to wait in line at the Deli counter no more than a couple of minutes to get waited on and get your pizza which is better than Sam’s and my wife loves that they have Nathan hot dogs and spicy mustard.
Typical hipster doofus article. Huge inaccuracies. Generalizations. But you feel good about Costco so its better. That is your curse. You are blinded as to the fact that Costco is no better than Sams club in the areas that make you “feel” better. So I admit. Costco is better at one thing. Marketing. Good job Noob. As you age you may gain better insight. But hey, take solace…you have been joined in the comments by a bunch of other doofaci. So at least you are not lonely Nancy.
I’ve been a member at Sam’s Club for over 7 years and make a trip every week for business. I’ve been to that club over 300 times. More recent member of Costco (40 minutes away) for the last two years and make a trip every week. I’ve had 2 bad experiences at Costco in 2 years (and 1 happened at the gas pump because of a d-bag customer). In contrast, I’ve had so many bad experiences at Sam’s Club I’ve lost count, but I’m absolutely certain I’ve had over 50. It’s night and day. Why do I keep going to Sam’s Club? Because of proximity to my business. If there was a Costco near my business, I’d stop going to Sam’s Club entirely!
Its so interesting to read everyone’s takes on this. I use to love Costco and would only go to Sams for a few specific things. 4 years ago I moved and the Costco here by my new house is horrible, all of the employees are rude and most won’t even stop if you ask them a question they say they’ll get back to you and keep walking then never come back. The clothes area is always a wreck and things aren’t stocked well and its pretty dark due to lights being out. The lines also are usually 20-30 min long and the cashiers are rude. There’s a Sams Club on the other side of the freeway and it’s amazing to go to. I’ve never felt rushed, people are always willing to help the store is clean and light. The selection is so much better the new scan and go app is fantastic and the employees are wonderful to deal with. I feel like it is a management problem with the Costco, my coworkers have told me to go to other Costco’s but I don’t feel like driving 30 more min to get to a store when there’s an amazing Sam’s Club 3 min away. I’ve had so many sour experiences with Costco in the past 4 years that this last year I didn’t renew my membership because I don’t plan on going back.
I read all kinds of blogs. I know I am not the target for this one. But I enjoy it. I have memberships at both Costco and SC. I have been a member at SC 20 years, my DH 25 years. We joined Costco when they opened where I live in the summer of ’15. Sam’s is closer. We buy certain items at each store. We buy tires and eyeglasses at Costco. We get reimbursed with Costco membership with my dh’s eyewear alone. He has a very unusual prescription. Costs us over 600 everywhere else that we can get them. SC lenses suck for my DH. The low-cost online places won’t do his prescription. Plus then his work reimburses what we have to pay at Costco since it’s so low. I prefer their whole organic chickens. SC is conventional. But on paper goods and nuts SC wipes the floor with Costco. I pay attention and shop loss leaders at both stores. Way more organics at Costco. But I follow EWG DD and get items like lemons, limes, onions at SC. Some things we just buy from local farmers. Beef, bison, bacon, pork, and eggs. The meat we buy bulk and the eggs we buy from my DH’s partner at work. The guy lives out in the middle of nowhere and raises goats and chickens. He does the whole no soy organic, they just roam around his property. I buy meat and veggie base at Costco. Frozen non-convenience fish is generally less costly at SC. But organic tortilla chips at Costco is cheaper. But quite frankly my favorite thing about Costco is that it’s right across from a warehouse liquor store that has the best prices in town. I live in a state that Costco or SC can’t sell liquor.
Our Costco in San Diego at Morena Blvd has finally installed self-checkout stands (assume it is similar to Scan & Go at Sam’s Club) and it really helps reduce the lines.
I don’t know if this is true for all Costco’s or just at this store which is commonly used to test new systems.
I have a Costco membership and really like the quality of food and the prices. One thing that kind of bugs me though is I have to drive past Sam’s Club to get to my Costco store. Sam’s Club has a nice big store with a store sign and the price of their gas is labeled nicely for others to see, but to find Costco I have to know exactly where it is located. I’m sure it’s probably a marketing trick or cost savings approach but Costco has no sign on their building, no signage at the busy street it’s located on and no signs for gas prices. How is this helpful. I like the store, but I can miss the entrance if I’m not watching carefully. If I’m a customer and have to know right where they are located to find it, how will new customers find them? Am I the only one that doesn’t like this?
I love Scan and Go at Sam’s! Unfortunately, the closest Sam’s to us is a 45 minute drive, so that’s a deal breaker for us…especially since we live in the desert and by the time we get home from a 45 minute trip, the meat is spoiling and the frozen foods are thawed.
If Sam’s were closer to us, I’d definitely have a membership there…that Scan and Go is the best thing ever. It absolutely SHOCKS me when I see people in line (unless they are buying liquor…you can’t use it to buy liquor) at Sam’s!
I had been a member of both Costco and Sam’s Club since 1988. I said ‘I had been’ because Sam’s Club closed all stores in my region in 2018. That said, here are my impressions comparing them both.
CST (Costco) tends to have more organic food which is a plus, but it also tends to have more quantities / portions which may make less practical to smaller families. SC (Sam’s Club) tends to have smaller but their produce appears way less fresh – often giving me second thought about purchasing. There are some frozen food items I liked very much that CST doesn’t carry, BTW. Both stores have a massive quantity like; ; 5 gallons of soy sauce which will last me > 20 years, 30 bunches of green onion which I will not be able to consume before it spoils. I did not buy these items.
What Sam’s Club clearly excels over Costco is auto department. SC has more varieties of tire brands and more options of battery models. I always bought them from SC – CST mostly did not carry what I need until fairly recently. However, I find auto department employee seems to be less well trained than that of CST. They messed up two of my tires during rotation. CST still does not offer battery test service to check its condition which SC always had done.
Café / Food Service is better @ CST. Varieties appears to be about the same @ SC, but CST Café always have faster moving food which helps to stay fresher. SC Café has had some really good tasting menus: Chili Con Carne and Pretzels. They tasted really good (but didn’t last very long). It’s nice that they offer filtered water for free.
Gas station is about tie.
I have never purchased prescription drugs from SC pharmacy, but notice SC has some vitamin / nutrient supplements that CST do not have, while vice versa is also true.
Computer / peripherals seems to be about tie, but find SC price slightly higher (but different brand).
Household Lighting: CST has more varieties but SC has somewhat cheaper options. Both offer utility rebates which varies greatly from stores to stores. I saw 6 bulbs of 22watt CFL for 99¢ @ SC Seattle without rebate several years ago.
Well, that’s about all I can think of at this moment.
I’ve had a Costco membership since they were still known as Price Club. But this year I let mine lapse. Why? Because they have stopped carrying so many items I used to buy there.
First to go was bread flour. They no longer sell ANY good flour, just a cheap AP flour in a plastic bag. I’m pretty sure Sam’s actually stopped carrying the bread flour as well.
Spices. Costco used to have a GREAT spice collection. I bought most of my spices there. They cut that out years ago. Now Sam’s spice section is WAY better, not because they got better, but because Costco got so much worse.
No Tuaca this xmas. I used to buy Tuaca every xmas. I would buy it throughout the year but for some reason they only carried it at Xmas. No Tuaca this Xmas and no one could tell me why, including the guy who handles the wine department. He was expecting it to be in this past Xmas too.
They stopped carrying the canned mango I used to buy all the time.
They stopped carrying ANY vitamin C that is appropriate for diabetics. I can’t take a “normal” vitamin C pill, they make me gag. This is a big problem for older people, I know lots of us who can’t take a regular vitamin C pill anymore. I used to buy a form of VItamin C that was in capsules. They stopped carrying it and tried to make my buy chewables – ALL of which have sugar in them – instead. They had ONE form of vitamin C that was sweetened with alcohol sugars which are NOT safe for diabetics. Some diabetics can handle sugar alcohols but many if not most cannot.
Even ignoring the fact that all these sweetened form of chewable vitamin C are WAY more expensive than a capsule, they are not safe for diabetics. Costco didn’t give a crap. They won’t bring the capsules back.
But here is the big one for me – my local costcos DO NOT CARRY REGULAR BACON ANYMORE. They carry thick sliced, which I find disgusting (its a texture thing) or low salt. If I am going to the trouble of eating bacon, I want it to be as bad for me as possible. I WANT THE SALT. Screw your low salt bacon! And I MOST ESPECIALLY do not want to be lectured by your teeny-bopper employee over the phone about the health risks of real bacon, nor to be told in the most patronizing way possible that if I would JUST sprinkle the nasty faux bacon you do still sell with lemon pepper it would be NUMMY!!!
Screw you, Costco. I got a Sam’s club membership this year when the Costco membership expired. It cost me $15 less and I can buy all the bacon I want there. They also have apples that are normal sized instead of those ginormous apples that are all Costco sells any more, in the clam shell. Even BEFORE I was diabetic I couldn’t eat one of those, and they were overpriced per pound on top of it all. I’ve not bought apples at Costco for years because of that. Believe it or not, Sam’s is also carrying far more things that are at least diabetic friendly if not full-on diabetic safe, in the way of prepackaged pre-prepared foods. They carry most of the same products – Daisy Sour Cream, for example – and most of those seem to be less at Sam’s or at least no more expensive. Their produce selection is not as varied as Costco but the things I buy they have at Sam’s as well. The things that are missing are mostly salad mixes that I don’t buy anyway.
But the biggest reason I cut the Costco cord was the treatment I got over the issue of the bacon. Their attitude was that I was lying when I told them I would not renew my membership if they didn’t start stocking bacon again. They all but sneered at the idea that someone might drop their membership MERELY because Costco stopped carrying a normal every day item like bacon. Very condescending and dismissive.
I don’t lie. I don’t bluff. If I say I will do X if Y doesn’t happen, that is exactly the way things will go. I was a loyal Costco member for 35 years. Costco can bite me now.
I’ve tried 3 different browsers and can’t the the REPLY button to work.
@Gary Pokrant, CPA
Popping open produce containers so you can eat some? YOU ARE A THIEF. It doesn’t make me feel any better that you are loose in the world, possibly germifying the produce I buy because you’ve been “tasting” it. I will be asking Sam’s to please seal their produce more effectively against people like you.
I agree that Costco has the edge, however, the fact that they don’t have Scan&Go yet, is a total deal breaker for me!!
Get on it Costco!!
Costco 100% hands down quality quantity store and employee support they get people through check out faster then Sans. I health violates all the time people need to look at expiration dates on Sams club 24/7 I repeatedly bring expired items to managers even deli meats & Cheese yogurts.customer service is nil. I drive 96 miles past 4 Sams Clubs to get to Costco. Yes I love Costco’s and spend the day there.
What NO ONE has mentioned here is, Walmart AND Sams both are priced he SAME per ounce for the food products they sell and often at walmart, the price is higher per oz for the SAME product in a larger package. Now I don’t know about the rest of you ppl but to me a warehouse should ALWAYS BE CHEAPER than a grocery store/supercenter price. That is not the case with walmart and sams which is why I prefer costco, and kirkland brands ARE better quality than members mark.Go out and buy a few of the same products from both places, try them, and you’ll see. The reasons for the long lines at costco should be OBVIOUS, more ppl PREFER costco over sams for lower prices and better quality. And FYI. costco has profit sharing and bonuses also, Where do you think sams got the idea from, and to the guy who mentioned toptier gas has more added detergents than sams cheap gas, cheap gas has more additives and more ethanol than top tier gasses do like costco.
I’m a member in both of them and I do like them both. but if I could only choose one, I would choose Costco, but it is very close. When I want new glasses, I go to Sam’s Club. the people in their optical department are very friendly and helpful. They are not super busy like Costco’s optical department always seems to be. I also give Sam’s Club’s tire department the advantage. Costco will only repair flat tires if you bought the tires from Costco. but Sam’s Club Will repair flat tires no matter where you got the tires. Costco will sell you auto batteries but they won’t install them for you, where as Sam’s Club will. and Sam’s club offers more services in their tire department.
I disagree with the writer’s conclusion. I have had a SC membership for years but I recently purchased a Costco membership because there is one on my way home from work. The layout of the store is awful and contributes to the congestion. There is no self checkout or scan and go option. Costco has a terrible selection. What good is it to buy in bulk if they don’t carry the things you want? Not sure if I can cancel my Costco membership and get a refund but I will definitely not renew it! I will drive out of my way and continue to use my Sam’s Club membership.
I am in employee at Sam’s club, and I make $14.50 an hour, working full-time. You should update your information please. Winner Sam’s Club. 😇
These are averages over thousands of people across the country, not 1 person’s personal experience.
We just had a costco open nearby for the first time. I went ahead and bought a membership even though we have a sam’s much closer, because of the discount Costco offers on my prescription, the membership pays for itself just for that.
That said, after my first visit to Costco, I wasn’t terrible impressed, largely because of the lack of Scan and Go app and also the ability to Click and Pickup for ALL items, not just jewelry and laptops. Those two conveniences outweigh many, many other possible Costco advantages. I didn’t notice any material price differences. I will continue to give Costco a chance, but likely Sam’s will continue to get the majority of my business due to those conveniences.
Doesn’t. Anyone see the pattern here? The reason lines at checkout are long and the parking lot is crowded is because so many prefer Costco. We went to a Sam’s with our daughter and you could throw a bowling ball down the aisle and not hit anyone, the store was almost empty of customers during prime shopping hours.
You make an obvious and good point.
I’ve compared item price on exact items carried at both stores. All of Sam’s products come out less. Sorry you couldn’t find similar items and compare accordingly. It’s all about price or we wouldn’t shop at these stores.
Couple the lower price with Sam’s convenient pick up options and ability to scan products in the store on your app and pay, Sam’s wins.
Can you provide examples?
I think Costco’s biggest values are in their Kirkland store brand products.
Great article! I was an employee with Sams for over 10 years several years back. I have now worked at Costco 2.5 years. I’m an optician so in the middle I’ve also worked a couple of other corporate places. (Eyeglasses)
Costco is an amazing company. To anyone walking in the door the starting wage is 15$. Most people are making more than 20$ within a few years. Part time employees get full benefits and insurance for their families after 90 days and it is 1/3 the cost of Walmart insurance with much better coverage. On average it would take a couple of years to get full time. But that is the same at the average retailer. There is very little employee turnover with Costco. Costco’s upper management are very focused on member satisfaction as well as happy employees, who then provide better service to the members. They are very focused on excellent products and like your article says when Costco has put their Kirkland Signature name on something, they’ve extensively tested it and It will be top quality. The optical dept has Drs office quality lenses for 1/3 or less the price of an eye Dr. They blow every other chain out of the water as far as quality and price if you compare apples to apples. I don’t work in the hearing center but it is also amazing. No one works on commission like an outside retailer so a patient will get the product that suits them best without being up sold or getting a product the technician is only selling to get a spiff.
Great review. Costco is a hands down winner for me. Their quality of goods on everything is much higher than that of Sam’s club. They sell very exclusive brands of alcohol for a very reasonable price. They sell USDA Prime meat and Sam’s Club does not. Their overall selection of food is much healthier than Sam’s.
Regarding the crowds, if you live in Los Angeles like I do there are many Costco locations. Some Costco locations aren’t crowded and don’t have long lines. Most Costco’s have large parking spaces.
But the real winner in this comparison is the difference in corporate mentality. Costco’s employees are happy and happy to help. In general, Costco treats it workers well…pays them well and gives great benefits. They are life-long employees and Costco only promotes from within. There was actually an article on Wall Street about the Costco model of business where happy employees = good business. The results are loyal employees, good attitudes, few sick calls and also low shrinkage-cashier errors and internal theft. These factors enable Costco to keep low prices.
Costco’s latest earnings show only 0.11% loss in goods in causes from shoplifting and cashier errors. That is well below industry averages.
Several Sam’s Clubs in Los Angeles and in 63 other locations abruptly closed and left a note on the front door for arriving employees. They couldn’t even get back inside to get their personal items without a escort. That is despicable!!!!
Walmart the owner of Sam’s – itself is plagued by a greater than 30% employee turnover rate. New employees don’t know where anything is and a lot of other employees don’t care because Walmart (and Sam’s Club) don’t care . Walmart alone lost more than 3 billion last year due to theft. Sam’s didn’t post it’s rate. Greater than 44% of theft at Walmart/SC is internal by employees. See, not treating people well does have it’s costs.
I refuse to shop at Walmart or Sam’s Clubs because of how they treat their employees. I also don’t like the products they sell.
Nothing has been mentioned about the pharmacy except to say they each have one. I am a member at Sams club but a Costco is being built right across the street from SC and since I’ve never been in one, I’m very curious. I don’t have insurance for prescriptions so I have always used GoodRX at a chain pharmacy and have gotten great savings, many times even better than what I used to get when I did have regular insurance. I have shopped at Sams on and off for years but like most not gotten much there until I found out about the prescriptions. I upgraded my SC membership 2 years ago when I found out about the HUGE savings on meds. On my 5 prescriptions I saved enough to pay for my upgraded membership plus my basic membership. When compared to what I was paying before at another chain pharmacy I payed less than half at SC with the plus membership. AND on top of all that I earned Cash Rewards that is awarded annually.
Just a note to you who do have prescription insurance. I have found that some of my mothers meds are still cheaper if I don’t use her insurance and only use the SC Plus. I usually get them to check all of her meds both ways to see what’s cheaper. The people in the pharmacy couldn’t be nicer. They are the best and treat everyone as a good friend in and out of Sams.
Even if I only use SC for prescriptions it’s worth the membership cost for me. Does anyone know about Costos pharmacy?
Thank you all for the reviews and comments. it could not have come at a better time. I just received my $60 renewal notice in the mail for COSTCO. I went to Sam’s Club for the first time in a very long time. I was impressed in getting some of my staples that COSTCO has not had for the last few months. I admit I was not super impressed though with some items I compared. I was debating whether to renew with COSTCO or go to Sam’s Club membership instead. I am now convinced it is to stay with COSTCO. Again thank you all.
I was a Costco Dedicated OTR Truck Driver for several years… and cross country before that. I have to add that Costco beats Sams at the Warehouse AND the Receiving Docks… hands down and all around for… Organization… Strict Appointments… Punctuallity… Safety Awareness… Efficiency… Cooperation and Friendliness! At Costco… the pick ups are schedueled pre-loads, and un-loads are usually strict Lives! Sams is a mess! Pick-ups are always preloaded… that is… if they actually load them… and you have to wait till the warehouse closes to actually find out. Deliveries are corporately schedueled with every store… but SAM’S CLUB STORES have never been on time to receive them. Tardy employees, delivery unawareness, schedueled during lunch breaks or opposite PM instead of AM shifts… or just not able to gain thier %#@! attention At All… for HOURS! SAD… since SAM’S deliveries are Always a simple… Drop and Hook! Makes Costco look like a graceful poised ballerina! They Are! I Love Kirkland!
The Scan and Go at Sam’s Club is not the same as self-checkout. When we go to Sam’s, we use an app on my telephone to scan items as we put them in the cart. When we are finished, I click to pay on line with a pre-stored credit card. A QR code pops up, and the checker at the door scans that as I leave, to confirm that I’ve paid. Alcoholic items, such as spirits and wines, can not be scanned in our state and have to be checked out separately with the assistance of a clerk; everything else is scanned when it goes in the shopping cart.
Well, this is all the information I need. My husband gets a Sam’s Club membership through work otherwise I wouldn’t have either. We don’t have the space to buy in bulk. But we haven’t even gotten around to checking out the Sam’s Club and there are a couple of things we use that are of a particular brand… toilet paper for example… that I do like to stock up on, and others I can’t find other places. So I’ll give Sam’s a chance for that. Seeing as how it’s free and all.
Only issue I have with Costco is they aren’t anywhere near me! I live in Shreveport, La and we don’t have a Costco. We do have a Sams Club in Shreveport and another one in near by Bossier City, La. I know my parents use both in Colorado Springs and they do like Costco better for some things. For them, Sams is right down the street from them but Costco is on the opposite end of town so it’s easier and more cost effective to use Sams more often.
A few years ago we moved out of the city. The Costco was about 1.5 hour drive away in one city, we continued shopping there the first couple of months. We found we were going to another city that’s closer, only 45 minutes once or twice a week. Sam’s Club is in that closer city, so we got a membership there. For the staple items we buy frequently, Sam’s has similar prices (not being brand specific, just product we like). They also have the perk of ordering ahead via the website and curbside pick up for free.
For those items that we don’t buy every week, but as needed: clothing, office supplies, seasonal items; Costco has better quality and more appealing products. For example, the Kirkland men’s underwear is more comfortable and longer-lasting than the Member’s Mark equivalent; the Kirkland denim pants are more comfortable and fit better. We also find the Costco travel rental car discounts quite useful, and prefer their credit monitoring service. When traveling, we often find ourselves near Costco gas stations with a lower price. For those reasons, we continue to maintain membership to both stores. However, if Costco was closer, it would be our pick. Costco member since 2004.
I have a Sam’s Club membership, my SIL has a Costco membership. At a family reunion this last summer my SIL picked up most of the food. I was shocked at the amount of extra packaging that most Costco items seemed to come in. Seriously, my milk needs to come in a jug, and a box!?!? So much extra plastic and cardboard everywhere. It seems like a company who is trying to practice good environmental stewardship would factor packaging waste in to their calculations. I agree with the above comments that most GMO free/organic business is a marketing ploy, and nothing more. Organic crops still use large amounts of pesticides, and decrease in crop yield means more land/water/fertilizer used. People get so focused on the synthetic pesticide aspect and frequently fail to factor that in. If we are trying to preserve forests/wetlands/untouched green space, isn’t higher yield per acre important to consider???? And in regards to taste, there have been studies done on this as well. In blind taste tests there wasn’t a difference.
Ultimately i found this review lacking. The bias is was clear from the beginning, and there wasn’t much in the way of actual numbers. How much cheaper is the meat or produce? What about the Kirkland store brand makes it more trustworthy/ideal? (And why is it better than Sam’s Club member’s mark store brand?) A lot of anecdotal “I trust Costco more because….” Because why?
We live equidistant from a Sam’s Club and a Costco and choose to have a Sam’s Club membership (the Sam’s Club is on my husband’s way home from work). Many of our friends who shop at Costco buy a lot of the snacks/ready made foods. We primarily use our Sam’s membership for bulk food basics (meat, nuts, produce, cheese, eggs, bread). So much of “healthy” foods in stores is what you personally choose to buy. There is plenty of junk food at Costco. I’ve never noticed an issue with mold on the produce or problems with product quality at our Sam’s Club. The scan and go app is seriously amazing, I can be in and out of the store with all my kids and a full cart in 30 minutes. And I can go at literally any time of the day/week to accomplish that, I don’t have to avoid crazy busy times. And it’s not just scanning your items at a self-serve kiosk. You can actually use your phone to scan the items as you put them in to the cart. Seriously so efficient. The slightly more convenient location, as well as the scan and go app, seal the deal for us.
Sam’s Club is very close to our house and Costco a few miles further, so I don’t really have Costco experience. However, if Costco had an app where you can Scan&Go without doing the whole long check-out line I would consider it. Maybe. Sam’s also has online order of groceries with delivery to car at the curbside of the store. Same Day. This is a time saver, and honestly a money saver because no random “gotta have it” purchases when I enter the door of the store that I really don’t gotta have. We have found Member’s Mark products to be great quality for the items we buy. And the meat department is very high quality. The same with produce. Seriously good quality, and more organic selections all the time. For the time being, there isn’t any compelling reason for us to consider switching to Costco. Thank you for your review. You didn’t mention the ease of online shopping, Scan&Go app, curbside pickup so maybe you’re not aware of those amazing perks that Sam’s offers.
I have had both and neither store is an easy drive from my house so I had to be very picky which I ultimately kept.
1. Produce and milk is much better at Costco.
2. Frozen items have a better selection and quality than Costco. (I love the Chicken Cordon Bleu at Sam’s. I tried Costco and the piece of ham inside wasn’t even the size of a penny. I felt ripped off. Costco was also about $1 more expensive.)
3. Clothing items are better quality at Costco but I would only ever shop socks and underwear. Their other products at either store are not the best. I have never had a pair of jeans survive long from either store.
4. In my opinion, Costco is designed more for the residential bulk buyer. Sam’s Club stocks more for the small business owner. If I want paper plates and accessories to host a large party, Sam’s Club wins every time.
5. I typically have received better customer service at Sam’s. A recent trip to both for a set of tires resulted in over an hour-long wait at Costco just to talk to a representative and then they weren’t very helpful. At Sam’s, there was more than one person available and I was seen and assisted immediately. The price and options were almost identical at either location.
6. The meat selection at either location is ok but Sam’s had customer service to cut pieces down for no charge and did so quickly. At Costco, I had difficulty finding assistance and then they wouldn’t open the packaging to cut pieces down and repackage to smaller sizes (I still planned to buy the whole amount, I just wanted smaller cuts).
Conclusion: I prefer Sam’s and felt it had better customer service and a wider variety of products I need. Also, I did a price comparison on like items and felt Sam’s won in every category I checked. With the cheaper membership, this puts them over the edge as the clear choice and winner.
Sam’s has too many items you have to order online that requires the Plus card for free shipping!
The writer didn’t mention that the Sam’s Club credit card (which is also your membership card) can be used at Walmart as well. I buy a lot $-wise at both so being able to buy things at Walmart using my Sam’s card is another advantage.
Like others have said about Costco, I’ve not found them significantly better on anything and customer service is pretty much non-existent. I live between 2 Costco’s in a large city and neither on impressed me. I had a membership there that I let lapse as the few fun food items they had during the holidays wasn’t worth another $60 membership.
The Sam’s Club credit card (which is also your membership card) can be used at Walmart for purchases as well. I buy a lot $-wise at both so being able to buy things at Walmart using my Sam’s card is another advantage. This is especially helpful during the holidays when you’re buying a lot of different items. And the statement gives you a partial list of items purchased from which store, gas bought at their pump, pharmacy purchases or items purchased at
Very detailed compairation. So helpful! Appreciated so much! I have been wondering which one I should go for a long time. You help me to solve this. Thanks!