5 Reasons I Like Costco More Than Sam's Club

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KEY POINTS

  • Kirkland-brand products can help shoppers cut their monthly grocery bills.
  • By carrying 2,000 to 3,000 fewer products in warehouse stores, Costco tends to be less cluttered.
  • Costco has a reputation for treating employees fairly.

Costco and Sam's Club may seem interchangeable, but one is actually quite different from the other.

It's been more than six months since I allowed my Sam's Club membership to expire and joined Costco. There was nothing dramatic about my decision to make the change; after moving to a new state, Costco was simply closer to our house than Sam's Club, and I'm all about convenience. Still, now that I've been a member of each warehouse club more than once over the years, I'm in a better position to determine if I prefer one over the other.

For me, Costco is the clear winner. Here's why.

1. Greater savings

Through 2023, Sam's Club is offering membership for only $25, half off the regular price. While that beats the $60 I paid to join Costco, Costco allows me to save more throughout the year. That's money I can invest or use to boost my savings account.

How is that possible? It was only after joining Costco this time around that I remembered how much I trust Kirkland Signature brand items. My husband and I have moved extensively throughout our marriage, and while some moves are easier than others, they all require an adjustment period.

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Recently, as I strolled through our new Costco, it occurred to me how much I appreciate the familiarity of Costco, specifically Kirkland products. No matter where we move, I can count on the nearest Costco warehouse to carry items we're comfortable buying. Better yet, Kirkland-brand products are cheaper than name brands, and ultimately, I think that's how I'm leaving Costco with a lower overall bill.

2. Higher quality

Both Costco and Sam's Club offer quality goods, so this is strictly a matter of opinion. I have always found the quality of Costco produce superior to Sam's Club. If I have to buy enough bananas to feed a jungle full of monkeys, I want to trust that nothing is bruised. And I can't begin to tell you how guilty I feel when I throw out food.

As far as baked goods, Costco's don't taste like they were mass produced in a factory. They taste more like there's a crew of bakers in a back room, churning out crescent rolls and sticky buns. I truly appreciate that.

Another thing that may impact my sense that Costco offers higher-quality products is that it only carries 4,000 products at a time. Sam's Club carries between 6,000 and 7,000 items. As someone who loathes clutter and dislikes digging through tables of goods to find a bargain, it may be that I associate Costco's tidiness with higher quality.

3. Healthier food options

It's easy for me to find organic, cage-free options at Costco. It's also easier to find fresh, ready-to-heat meals with no preservatives. If you don't count the dark-chocolate-covered pretzels that inevitably find their way into my shopping basket, I typically leave Costco feeling good about my grown-up food choices.

4. Better travel options

My husband has spent years trying to transform me into a world traveler. Here's the issue: I have the patience of a 2-year-old on a long flight, get motion sick on winding mountain roads, and miss my dogs like crazy when we're away. Still, I'm trying to become a better travel partner. I'm even helping him plan our next trip.

That's another area in which Costco shines brighter than Sam's Club. Both warehouse stores offer vacation deals, but Costco's selection of international destinations exceeds Sam's Club’s options. Costco also has Sam's beat when it comes to comprehensive travel packages.

5. Less oppressive vibe

I've spent decades writing about the way corporations treat their workers, and it's no secret that a well-respected employee is a happy employee. Although I have no way of knowing how much another person actually likes their job, Costco workers seem happier to me. My perception could have something to do with how Costco treats its employees.

According to ZipRecruiter, the average hourly wage for Costco employees is $21. For Sam's Club employees, the average is just shy of $17 per hour. It may not seem like a significant difference, but for the average Costco worker, that's an extra $650 in the bank each month.

And, according to an Indeed.com survey, Costco employees give their company an overall rating of 4.1 out of 5 stars. What's more, 83% say they believe that they're fairly compensated. Sam's Club employees give their company an overall rating of 3.4 out of 5 stars, and 54% believe they're fairly paid.

Admittedly, with all the disputes going on in the world, a Costco vs. Sam's Club debate does not rank in the top 1,000. Still, I'm in a good place -- saving money while shopping at a store I feel good about.

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