5 Reasons to Switch From Sam's Club to Costco

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  • Seven states have no Sam's Club locations. 
  • It's hard to beat the Costco quality.
  • Costco employees are overall happier with their corporate culture. 

Given the advantages of each store, it can be tough to choose. 

Of all the things Americans focus on, it's a little funny that we spend so much time debating the merits of the two major big-box stores in the U.S. Still, if we're going to spend money on a membership, we want to get it right. Here, we take a look at five reasons why you may want to make the switch from Sam's Club to Costco.

1. Greater chance of being without a Sam's Club

As difficult as it may be to imagine anywhere in the United States without a Sam's Club in its backyard, there's not a single Sam's in any of these seven states:

  • Alaska
  • Vermont
  • District of Columbia
  • Washington
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Massachusetts

Now, to be fair, there are no Costco stores in Maine, West Virginia, Wyoming, or Rhode Island. While this makes you wonder what Rhode Islanders do when they need a big-box store fix, there's a more important issue at play here. If you're in school or move frequently for your job, you'll have a better chance of finding a nearby Costco following a relocation to a new city.

2. Costco employees report being happier

If supporting a company's culture is important to you, Costco is the clear winner. Costco is known for making its employees happy.  Indeed.com conducted a survey to learn how both Costco and Sam's Club employees feel about the work environment. In every single category, from compensation to work/life balance and job security, Costco ran away with higher ratings. 

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3. Kirkland Brand is a game changer

There's no doubt that Sam's Club offers more name-brand products than Costco. The fly in the ointment is that those name-brand products often cost more per unit than they cost elsewhere. Shopping at a big-box store doesn't make sense unless it leaves your bank account a little plumper at the end of the month.

While Sam's Club offers its in-store brand Member's Mark, it's tough for Member's Mark to compete with Kirkland products. Kirkland Signature brand labels everything from French vodka to pure maple syrup. You don't have to be wild about every Kirkland brand product to find a handful you can't imagine leaving the store without. The Kirkland brand is one of the reasons Costco has built a reputation for higher-quality products. 

4. Easier returns (at least in most Costco stores)

Admittedly, it's fairly easy to make returns to both Sam's Club and Costco, but Sam's Club employees would prefer you have a receipt with you. Costco is like, "Oh, an open box of raisins and no receipt? That's cool." 

It all comes down to Costco having a shorter list of non-returnable items. 

5. More room to move around

This is in no way a knock on Sam's Club because some of its stores have features like day-lighting and skylights, both of which make any space more pleasant. The fact of the matter is, Costco stores are, on average, simply larger than Sam's Club stores. 

The average Sam's Club is around 136,000 square feet. The average Costco comes in around 146,000 square feet. While 10,000 square feet may not seem like much, that's nearly one-quarter acre. And when you get hundreds of people in a store at the same time, every square foot of space counts.  

The great thing about both Sam's Club and Costco is that you can't go wrong. It's truly a matter of preference. It's also a matter of where a household is likely to save the most money, and that depends on the type of shopping they do. Ideally, we could all try out both stores before deciding on which best fits our needs.

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