Smart Buying

Is Costco a Better Deal Than Sam’s Club?

We put the two leading warehouse clubs to the test over membership fees, product offerings and return policies.

Costco and Sam's Club are the nation’s most popular wholesale clubs, with more than 600 locations apiece. But is one store better than the other for your pocketbook? It’s close, but we give the edge to Costco.

Membership Fees

Winner: Sam's Club. Costco's $55 basic membership will soon increase to $60 a year. A Sam's Club basic membership costs $45. Plus, Sam's also frequently discounts its fee or throws in freebies for new members.

Better Products

Winner: Costco. Consumer Reports found prices to be comparable at both warehouse clubs. But when it comes to quality, Costco's Kirkland brand has earned more kudos than Sam's Club's products for everything from olive oil to tequila.

Return Policies

Winner: Costco. At Costco you can return virtually any item at any time, no questions asked, without a receipt or the original packaging. (There are some exceptions including electronics.) Return policies are similar at Sam's Club, except Sam's highly recommends a receipt and the original packaging.

Read more about the pros and cons of shopping at Costco versus Sam's Club.

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