- There are more Sam's Clubs in the U.S. than Costco stores.
- It still costs less to join Sam's Club than Costco.
- Sam's Club offers a couple of services unavailable at Costco.
As with most things in life, it all comes down to personal preference.
I recently broke up with Sam's Club and switched to Costco. I did my research and felt certain that I was doing the right thing, but after months of Costco shopping, I'm beginning to miss Sam's a bit. It's like breaking up with someone, only to second-guess your decision months later.
Look, Sam's Club and Costco are both great. In fact, you can't go wrong with either. But as I recall the reasons I left Sam's in the first place, I realize there are a few things about Costco that I failed to factor into my decision.
1. More stores
Sam's Club has just shy of 600 stores in the U.S., while Costco has 572. Though it sounds insignificant, here's my issue. We recently made our 24th move. We've lived in a ridiculous number of cities and states. I like knowing there's going to be a big-box store in a city we're moving to or visiting. And the nearest big-box store in a couple of the rural areas we've moved to was Sam's Club.
2. Less expensive membership
Sam's Club membership fees are $50 annually for Club members and $110 for Plus members. It's $45 for add-on memberships. At Costco, it costs $60 for a standard Gold Star membership and $120 for an Annual Reward Executive membership.
Without conducting a head-to-head comparison of benefits, membership fees matter. For example, if you've got kids away at college and want them to have a membership card, it will cost you less if you're shopping with Sam's Club.
3. More name brands
I don't pretend to be a great cook or to enjoy hours in the kitchen creating new culinary delights. From what I understand, I come from a long line of half-hearted cooks. When I am in the mood to try something new, I prefer to use name brands when possible. That way, I have some idea of what it will taste like. Sam's Club carries more name-brand items.
Don't get me wrong, there are Kirkland products at Costco I've grown to love. But when I'm in a pinch and don't quite know what I'm doing, I tend to reach for a name brand. That was easier when I shopped at Sam's Club.
4. Curbside pickup
When the pandemic began, I was one of those people who loathed the idea of allowing someone else to shop for me. Given my distaste for shopping, I'm not sure why, but it felt unnatural.
Fast forward two and a half years. When I went out to vote recently, I made a mental list of all I needed to get accomplished that day. Remembering that I have Walmart+ and can have groceries delivered to my home brought a wave of relief. That was one thing I could scratch off the list.
Back when I was a Sam's Club member, I could order the things I needed online or from the Sam's app and pick them up curbside when they were ready. I didn't have to waste time going into the store and fighting the urge to buy a crate of baked goods. I really like that Sam's Club offers curbside delivery.
In 2021, there were rumors that Costco was going to do the same, but after testing out its own curbside pickup programs at select stores, the corporation decided it was a bust and scrapped the idea.
If you're someone who wants to save time (and stay away from sneezy, flu-infected people this winter), Sam's may be the way to go.
5. Scan and Go
I make no secret of the fact that I dislike shopping. While my husband seems to think he's Lewis and/or Clark as he explores Costco, I want to get in and out of there. Sam's made that far easier to do than Costco does by offering Scan and Go. With Scan and Go, all I had to do was pull up the Sam's app, scan items as I put them in my cart, pay through the app using my pre-stored credit card information, and show my digital receipt on the way out of the store.
The 15 minutes I stood in line at Costco last month to buy Halloween candy is time I will never get back. By the time I worked my way through the second line to show my receipt to a Costco employee, I'm pretty sure I aged a year.
6. Sam’s Club is often less crowded
Don't get me wrong. There are things about Costco I really (really) like. I like most Kirkland products a lot, and I love how Costco treats its employees. Any time a corporation treats its employees with respect, I'm down to support that company.
However, a whole lot of people really love Costco and it shows every time I try to find a parking spot, wade into a crowd to pick up a popular item, or stand in one of those rapid-aging lines.
Although I can't pinpoint the reason, Sam's Club was rarely as crowded as Costco. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but a matter of preference on my part. I sort of like the idea of being the only person in the store.
I don't know. Maybe I'm just missing Sam's Club a little these days because it was part of my life for so long. In any case, Neil Sedaka was right. Breaking up really is hard to do.
Our picks for 2024's best credit cards
Our experts carefully review the most popular offers and select those that are worthy of a spot in your wallet. These standout cards come with fantastic benefits like generous sign-up bonuses, long 0% intro APR periods, and robust rewards.
Click here to learn more about our recommended credit cards
Our Research Expert
We're firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.
The Ascent is a Motley Fool service that rates and reviews essential products for your everyday money matters.
Copyright © 2018 - 2024 The Ascent. All rights reserved.