Comparison of Sam’s Club and Costco

Is Sam's Club or Costco Better

Both Sam's Club and Costco warehouse stores look quite similar from the inside with similar layouts, pricing, and product selection. They were both founded in 1983 and operate by selling memberships to their stores where customers can buy bulk items. Due to the similarities, many people ask which one is better?

Continue reading this article as we'll discuss the comparison between Sam's Club and Costco in more detail.

Membership Plans

Buying a membership at one of these bulk warehouse stores is quite useful. You get the opportunity to buy low priced goods from them.

Costco* offers two membership tiers for families. The standard Gold Star membership costs $60 per year which allows you access to the clubs for shopping. The second tier Gold Start Executive membership costs $120 per year. It includes a 2% reward on eligible Costco and Costco Travel purchases plus some additional benefits over the standard membership plan.  Students can get a Shop Card for 

The basic membership at Sam's Club costs only $45 which makes them a clear favorite in terms of the annual cost. There is a second-tier membership for $100 per year which gives extra benefits such as free shipping, extended shipping hours, and prescription drug benefits.

Membership Benefits

Costco has a great reputation for its quality products. They also have a 100% satisfaction guarantee, which means they'll immediately cancel a membership if someone is not satisfied with their services, and this guarantee extends to satisfaction with products and services. They have major deals such as tickets for cruises, vacations, and even rental cars. 

Sam's club also offers quite similar benefits as Costco when it comes to good products at a lower price. They tend to have more brands you are familiar with, but the cost and quality isn’t always as good as Costco’s. Sam’s even has a similar satisfaction guarantee policy; although they are slightly more restrictive on their return policy. Other benefits that include in their membership are complimentary florist services, travel discounts, and even tech support.


Location should play a big part in your decision. Both companies have a similar number of locations: 599 for Sam’s compared to 546 for Costco. Due to the minor difference in membership pricing, having to drive to a further location may offset any potential savings. 

Product Selection & Pricing

It is difficult to compare the pricing between the two companies since their selections are very different. At Sam’s Club, you will see a much greater assortment of known name brand products. You are saving money over a regular grocery store by buying in bulk, but there is less of a savings than buying their Member’s Mark brand goods (when available). 

On the other hand, Costco offers a much broader selection of its generic Kirkland signature brand which is available at a good price. 

Price can vary greatly by location, but we generally found most products to be comparable in both cost and quality at both stores.


The bottom line is that Costco and Sam’s Club are virtually indistinguishable. Sam’s Club has a slight edge for business customers who value the extended weekday hours. Families that are open to generic brands will likely benefit more from a Costco membership due to their wider selection Kirkland Signature products. However, you really can’t go wrong with either one!

Checkout 10 secrets to warehouse shopping.

***Valid only for nonmembers for their first year of membership. Limit one per household. Nontransferable and may not be combined with any other promotion. You must join in person with a Costco representative. New members will receive their Costco Shop Card by mail in 4 to 6 weeks. Costco Shop Cards are not redeemable for cash, except where required by law. A Costco membership is $60 a year. An Executive Membership is an additional $60 upgrade fee a year. Each membership includes one free Household Card. May be subject to sales tax. Costco accepts all Visa® cards, as well as cash, checks, debit/ATM cards, EBT and Costco Shop Cards. Departments and product selection may vary.***

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