Costco vs. Sam’s Club
And a comparison to one other Membership Club
About a month and a half ago, or so, Feyma and I joined Sam’s club. We had never been a member of Sam’s, we were always Costco customers. Sam’s Club really did not have any stores out west when we lived in the USA before, so Costco it was.
This past weekend, we took a trip down to Indianapolis and also bought a Costco Membership.
Let’s have a look at the two big US Membership Club stores.
Why join both clubs?
Well, there were several reasons why we elected to join both Sam’s and Costco, at least for our first year back in the States.
Sam’s is more nearby, with two stores within about 45 minutes from where we live (one is 30 minutes away).
Being former Costco members, we like Costco and wanted to see how different it is now compared to before.
Comparing online reviews of the two clubs did not really give us a clear winner, so we decided to decide for ourselves.
As I said, we joined Sam’s first, about 6 weeks ago. It was nearer to where we live, so convenience was a key factor in that decision. Also, at the time we joined Sam’s we did not have a car yet, so we were relying on a ride from a friend, and going to Indianapolis was just too much to ask.
We paid $45 for a one-year membership at Sam’s Club.
How much did we pay for our purchases?
We toured the entire store, and spent, as I recall, around $200 that day that we joined (not including the membership fee). We mostly bought grocery type items, but a few non-grocery items too.
Frankly, both Feyma and I felt underwhelmed at Sam’s Club. The selection of goods seemed limited, and when we did find things that we wanted to buy, the prices did not seem all that spectacular.
But, we did find things that we wanted or needed to buy.
How many times have I visited Sam’s Club?
Over the past month or so, I have made around 3 more trips to Sam’s Club and bought things each time. With Sam’s being only 30 or 45 minutes away, it is easy and convenient for me to go there during the time when Feyma and Chris are at work. During the month I have gone to both the Kokomo Sam’s Club (30 minutes away) and the Lafayette Sam’s Club (45 minutes away).
Another thing that I have learned, since buying a car, is that if I happen to be in Kokomo or Lafayette, it is a good idea to fill up with gas at Sam’s Club. On my first “gas buying” visit to Sam’s the price for Unleaded was $2.64 per gallon, compared to $2.89 as the best price here in Logansport. So, filling up is well worthwhile, especially if you are already in town, near to Sam’s.
Now, let’s look at Costco
As I said, we had been Costco customers for years when we lived in Washington State, all through the 1990s. We used to love going to Costco. In the past 2 years, Feyma has been to Costco as well, while she was in the United States. She went with a friend who was a member.
So, now that we have a car, and we are freer to travel longer distances, on Saturday I asked Feyma if she wanted to go to Indy and get a Costco membership. Of course, she was eager to do so, so we headed out!
It is about an hour and 15 minutes or so to get to Costco. Not a super long trip, but I am not used to driving long distances, and for me that was a long distance! I am sure that as I become more used to the USA again, that will just be a short jaunt.
Costco’s regular membership is $60 per year ($15 more than Sam’s). We opted for the Executive Membership for $120 per year. Why? They offered some attractive services that were not available with a regular membership. Also, they guarantee that if you don’t save more than $60 in the first year with the additional services they will refund the membership fee, so there is really nothing to lose.
Time for some shopping
We spent a lot of time in Costco! Probably at least 2 hours.
We were very pleased with Costco. It is big, and they have a huge assortment of merchandise. Even better than back in the 90s when we were members. We were very impressed.
How much did we spend at Costco?
For the most part, we had decided that we were “just looking” on our first visit, but we still wound up spending $125 or so. Just a few “must have” items. We felt that in addition to the great product assortment, the value was great too.
Overall it was a fun trip, and well worth it to go down for the day.
What about Gas? Well, the gas prices at Costco were fantastic. Gas had come down here in Logansport. On the Sam’s Club section of this article, I said that gas was $2.89 here in Logansport, but by the time we went down to Costco, gas in Logansport was $2.64.
Gas at Costco was $2.21 per gallon. That is 43 cents per gallon less than local prices. Fantastic! You can bet that if I am in Indianapolis I will visit Costco for a tank of gas.
Costco vs. Sam’s
Let’s look at a few pluses and minuses.
Checkout. I felt that Sam’s is the winner when it comes to checking out. Lines were shorter at Sam’s (probably because there were fewer customers), and also Sam’s has self-checkout counters. I like self-checkout (I know that many don’t). I find it convenient. So, Sam’s win’s on the checkout battle.
Product Selection. As I said earlier, Costco wins hands-down. Not even a comparison. You could literally spend an entire day in Costco if you wanted to, and probably still not see everything.
Prices. Again, I already said it. Costco prices were better. Yes, membership is more, but not that much more, and you will save the extra cost of membership on the first visit, most likely.
Which club will we join in future years?
It is too early to say, but I am betting that we will keep both memberships.
With Sam’s being much closer, I can see where we would go buy our regular needs there on a weekly basis. But, mostly on weekends, about once a month we would go down to Costco and buy a big haul down there. So, having both memberships would make sense. After we have more time shopping at each store we will see how it works out.
Having both memberships would also be a good thing in terms of buying gasoline. I would tend to be in Kokomo or Lafayette (or both) at least once per week and can fill up at Sam’s. But, going to Indy once a month or so, the savings on gas are much higher.
One other comparison
S&R. S&R is the membership shopping club in the Philippines. We became members as soon as they opened a club in Davao City, where we lived.
S&R was great for the Philippines. But, frankly, it cannot stand up to either Sam’s or Costco.
We did buy a lot at S&R, but looking back now after experiencing the 2019 iteration of Sam’s and Costco.. they are just in a different league.
We had a fun weekend! We’ll be back, Costco! And Sam’s too.
We are members of Costco. It has changed so much over the years. It used to be that we only thought it was a good deal when the kids were still living at home. I don’t know if it changed over the years or we did, but even with the two of us, we find it works well. Even just buying paper products and non-prescription meds gets us savings that likely equals the annual cost. We have a couple in Fresno, but go maybe once every two months.
Hi Tom. Nice to hear from you. We really like Costco. They seem to have just about anything you might want or need.
Emily and I have had a Sams club membership for years it is about 10 minutes away. Never been to costco. Gasoline prices I keep a eye on. Sams here it 1.99 per gallon at sams. Walmart Murpy Gas is 2.10 per gallon. Here a little trick to keep in mind. A Walmart gift card at least where we live saves 3 cents per Gallon at the Walmart Murphy station. The gift card will also work at Sams for gas. Jasmine Rice Emily prefers to purchase at Walmart 20 LBS at a time. But Emily cooks a lot so we purchase Sugar and flower in 20+ LB bags pickles, Jalapeno,s by the gallon along with other items.
Have a wonderful day.
Hi Nathan. Walmart here does not have gas! Too bad. You guys are paying just $1.99 per gallon? Amazing. Gas around town at most places was $2.54 two days ago, but yesterday it went up to $2.79. Huge increase!
You didn’t mention the samples at Costco. You could almost live off the samples.
Unfortunately the closest Costco is over an hour away and I’m not convinced the savings for a one person household is worth it. Loved it when I lived in Portland. Butte has a non-membership store that is Costco light (Three Bears). I do shop there as they have something I’ve become addicted – precooked hamburger patties. Easy cooking in the microwave and taste pretty good.
No Sam’s Club here. Not sure where the closest one is. Probably same towns as Costco.
Hi Tony. How are you doing?
Yes, Costco is over an hour away from us too, which will make it an “every now and then” type thing, but we think it will be worth it, though.
I never heard of the Three Bears. It sounds dangerous. LoL… Maybe the frozen hamburgers are made with bear meat!
Have a happy 4th of July!