Amazon Prime vs. Warehouse Clubs: Which Is Better for Buying in Bulk?

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  • Buying household essentials and food items in bulk could save you money.
  • Here's how to decide what your go-to source for bulk items should be.

Here's how to make the right call.

These days, the cost of groceries and household items has soared due to inflation. You may be spending more money than ever -- and racking up major credit card charges -- just to cover your essential needs.

One potential solution for reaping savings on everyday purchases is to buy key items in bulk. Granted, it's a strategy you need to employ carefully. Bulk buying should really only be reserved for items you use regularly, and for items you know you'll manage to consume before their expiration date. Or, to put it another way, if there's a product you only use on occasion, buying it in bulk doesn't make sense.

Now if you're going to buy in bulk, you have several options to consider. You could sign up for an Amazon Prime membership and get free two-day shipping on your purchases, or you could join a warehouse club. Both Amazon and warehouse clubs are good sources for low-cost bulk items. The question is: Which is a better choice for you?

Comparing your costs

The cost of Amazon Prime is rising to $139 a year. That's a lot more than what you'll pay to join a warehouse club, assuming you're okay with a bare bones membership.

A basic Costco membership costs $60. You can join BJs for $55 a year, and you can sign up for Sam's Club at just $45 a year for its lower-tier membership plan.

Of course, Amazon's $139 price gives you more than just access to free shipping. It also gives you free content like music, TV shows, movies, and books. Plus, Amazon offers other programs like Amazon Wardrobe that let you try on apparel for free before being charged for it. You don't get these same perks at a warehouse club.

How to make the right call

There are pros and cons to using Amazon Prime versus a warehouse club for bulk buying. Here are some specific points to consider.


Amazon offers competitive pricing on many household essentials, but often, you'll find better deals at warehouse clubs. This especially applies when the items you need go on sale at warehouse clubs.


Warehouse clubs tend to have a more limited selection of household items. You may not find your preferred shampoo brand at your local club store, for example, whereas Amazon might have it in stock year-round.


With Amazon Prime, you get the items you order delivered to your door without having to leave the house. When you shop at a warehouse club, you often have to battle crowds to do your shopping. Plus, depending on where you live, you may not have a warehouse club located close by. Getting to and from a warehouse club could take a lot of time and cost you a fair amount of money in gas.

Should you go with Amazon or a warehouse club?

Some people prefer to shop for essentials -- especially food items -- in person. If you're one of them, then a warehouse club may be a better place to do your bulk shopping. Also, warehouse clubs commonly offer free samples of the items they have available. If there's a product you're not sure about, you can try it out on the spot, whereas Amazon doesn't offer that option.

On the other hand, there's something to be said for the convenience of getting to purchase your bulk items online and have them delivered to your doorstep. Despite the higher cost of getting a Prime membership versus joining a warehouse club, you may find Amazon is the better solution for you.

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