Sam’s Club Just Raised Membership Fees. Is Costco Next?

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KEY POINTS

  • The cost of Sam's Club is increasing by $5 to $10.
  • Although it's a modest hike, it could hurt consumers who are cash-strapped due to inflation.
  • Recently, Costco leadership has stated that they would not be raising their own membership costs anytime soon.


Could consumers be in for an unwanted surprise?

It's the age of inflation, and that means everything from food to apparel to utilities is costing consumers more than usual. It's at times like these that consumers tend to be especially grateful for warehouse club stores like Sam's Club and Costco. These retailers offer customers ample opportunities to load up on bulk items at an affordable price point. The result? Lower credit card tabs at a time when living costs are surging.

But Sam's Club recently announced that its membership fees are increasing. And Costco members may be wondering if they're next in line for a price hike.

Sam's Club members now have to pay more

The cost of Sam's club is increasing from $45 to $50 for a basic club membership and $100 to $110 for a plus membership. However, if you're a current Sam's Club member, you can basically get reimbursed for that increase as long as you renew your membership between Oct. 17, 2022 and Oct. 16, 2023. That's because you'll get that $5 or $10 back in Sam's Cash, which is essentially a credit you can use at your local Sam's Club store.

It's also worth noting that the cost of a basic Sam's Club membership hasn't increased since 2013. So following this increase, customers may not see another one for several years.

Will Costco follow in Sam's Club lead?

Now that the cost of Sam's Club is increasing, it will be more comparable to what a Costco membership costs. Right now, Costco charges $60 a year for a basic membership and $120 a year for an executive membership. But executive members get added perks, like 2% cash back on their Costco purchases.

On a recent earnings call, Costco was adamant about the fact that it wouldn't be raising the cost of its memberships in the near term. The company pointed to an uptick in memberships as a reason for not having to implement an increase. But that doesn't mean we won't see a membership fee hike at some point in 2023.

Like all retailers, Costco has seen its costs go up due to inflation, and at some point, it may seek to pass that expense on to consumers. Plus, the last time Costco implemented a membership fee hike was back in June 2017. And generally, the warehouse club giant raises its prices every five years or so. So all told, Costco members shouldn't get too comfortable with what they're paying right now.

Still, it's important to keep these increases in perspective. If Costco raises its fees, we're likely to see an increase in the $5 to $10 range a la Sam's Club. These are modest increases over the course of a year -- it's not like we're talking about a $5 increase on a monthly basis, which would definitely be more of a financial blow.

And also, stores like Sam's Club and Costco offer consumers loads of savings opportunities. So even with the cost of a membership being higher, it can still be more than worth it to sign up.

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