Sam’s Club vs. Costco Price Comparison: Which Wholesaler is Cheaper?

It’s no secret that Sam’s Club and Costco are both well-known for selling bulk products at reduced prices, but which one is better: Costco or Sam’s Club?

That’s what we’re here to answer.

We created the ultimate grocery list that bags items from both stores and compared their prices. And it’s all here for you to see for yourself.

But first, let’s go over a few basic facts about these bulk retailers. Costco and Sam’s Club are certainly distinct brands, but they have many similarities.

Both stores are American companies (with Costco being a business of its own and Sam’s Club being a subsidiary of Walmart), and both have about 600 locations throughout the United States, offer similarly priced memberships (which we’ll dive into later), and offer bulk products for great prices.

They also feature similar departments. Both retailers offer common products such as electronics, jewelry, clothing, flowers, and home decor. And they both have pharmacies, groceries, food courts, and hearing/vision testing centers. Some locations of each retailer also have gas stations for members.

With all these similarities, what we really want to know is:

  • Which store is better?
  • Which store is cheaper?
  • Where should you shop?

Here’s how we figured out the answers.

Comparison Methodology: How We Compared

First, we came up with popular categories that each retailer covered. Then, we created a shopping list for each category and filled our digital carts with the cheapest item from each store and/or an identical brand item when we could.

Whenever there was a brand discrepancy, we noted which brands were compared. Most often, it was Sam’s Club’s brand, Member’s Mark, versus Costco’s brand Kirkland Signature.

Keep in mind that we’re comparing prices from the Southwest of the United States during June 2021. Prices will vary by region. They even vary by store location, sometimes!

Sam’s Club vs. Costco Price Comparison Summary

If you don’t have the time or the desire to analyze all our data yourself, here’s a quick summary of our findings for each category. To see our overall summary of whether Costco or Sam’s Club is right for you, skip down past the charts to see our findings and conclusions.

CategorySam’s ClubCostcoSavings
Perishable Groceries$83.90$105.18$21.28 (20.23%)
Non-Perishable Groceries$90.36$105.36$15.00 (14.24%)
Health and Beauty$72.15$94.44$22.29 (23.6%)
Home Essentials$101.21$139.96$38.75 (27.69%)
Electronics$1,697.96$1,698.97$1.01 (0.06%)
Pet Care$161.30$191.47$30.17 (15.76%)
Baby$319.30$264.79$54.51 (17.07%)
Clothes$80.86$82.90$2.04 (2.46%)
Total Cart Price$2,607.04$2,683.07$76.03 (2.83%)

Despite the many similarities between Costco and Sam’s Club, the latter came out on top for almost every category, plus the total cart price. The one area that Costco won in was the infant and baby products, where we saved a total of $54–which was the largest savings gap of any category!

With that win to help push Costco towards the finish line, the final savings difference was 3%. And that gap might sound small until you realize that 3% of our over $2,000 shopping trip is over $75.

And to top it all off, Costco’s sticker price is slightly higher, with their Executive memberships costing between $15-$20 more than Sam’s Club’s Plus member cards.

These results were pretty surprising to us, but by the end of this blog, hopefully, you’ll see why Costco is more expensive but still worth shopping at.

Now it’s time for the complete breakdown.

Sam’s Club vs. Costco: Membership Perks and Prices Comparison

To shop at either store, you need a membership. You can opt for the cheaper standard membership, but both stores also offer a premium membership. At Costco, you can be an “Executive Member,” while at Sam’s Club, you’ll earn “Plus” status.

Annual Membership TypeSam’s ClubCostco

Both standard memberships give you store access–and that’s about it.

With both premium memberships, you can earn 2% cashback. However, Costco’s yearly cashback limit is set at $1,000 with many ways to save, while you can only earn up to $500 annually with Sam’s Club on limited qualifying purchases.

With a Sam’s Club’s Plus card, members are allowed to shop during off hours: from 7 am every day of the week until the store opens around 9-10 am. Sam’s Club also offers free shipping to premium members. Costco does not offer these perks, despite their higher-priced premium membership.

When you compare the membership price only, Sam’s Club appears to have the higher value. You’ll get more perks at a lower cost. And even though the cashback cap is lower, it’s unlikely you’d redeem all that cashback.

When you consider that you’d need to spend around $50,000 to redeem Costco’s full $1000 cap, it doesn’t seem like that much of an advantage.

But, with that said, the membership fees aren’t all we’re comparing today. Let’s look at the prices after you walk through the door.

Sam’s Club vs. Costco: Perishable Groceries Price Comparison

Sam’s Club and Costco both offer high-quality fresh and frozen foods in bulk. However, it’s important to note that food waste equals money waste–so if you can’t eat all of these perishable foods before they spoil, buying them in bulk from either store isn’t the best strategy for saving money.

But if you do have a large family, a business, or a special event where all your perishable groceries will be eaten in time, here are the essential price comparisons you should know about.

ProductSam’s ClubCostcoSavings
48 oz, 72 slices Kraft Singles American Cheese$6.98$8.99$2.01 (22.36%)
1 Gallon Vitamin D Whole Milk (Swiss Dairy vs. Kirkland Signature)$3.18$2.99$0.19 (5.97%)
18 ct of 6 oz Yoplait Variety Yogurt$6.98$8.99$2.01 (22.36%)
5 Dozen Eggs (Hickman’s Family Farms vs. Kirkland Signature)$7.76$10.49$2.73 (26.02%)
2 ct of 20 oz Nature’s Own 100% Whole Wheat Bread$4.18$5.29$1.11 (20.98%)
24 ct of 10 oz Tropicana Orange Juice$13.98$16.49$2.51 (15.22%)
3 lb Bananas$1.38$1.29$0.09 (6.52%)
1 lb Broccoli$2.48$1.50$0.98 (39.52%)
5 lb Gala Apples$5.28$7.26$1.98 (27.27%)
10 lb Frozen Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast (Member’s Mark vs. Kirkland Signature)$16.98$19.90$2.92 (14.67%)
4 lb 80/20 Ground Beef (Member’s Mark vs. Kirkland Signature)$14.72$21.99$7.27 (33.06%)
Total$83.90$105.18$21.28 (20.23%)

For about half the items in this category, we compared the same brand items, and it revealed that Sam’s Club (much like its companion company Walmart) offers lower prices compared to Costco.

Sam’s Club’s prices beat Costco’s 8 times out of 11 (it’s not 9 times out of 10, but it’s pretty close!). And, at the end of this mini-shopping trip, we discovered that you could save upwards of 20% by choosing to shop at Sam’s Club instead of Costco. 

Let’s see how Costco performs when we shift gears and start shopping for the pantry.

Sam’s Club vs. Costco: Non-Perishable Groceries Price Comparison

Non-perishable goods are some of Sam’s Club’s and Costco’s most popular items since buying in bulk is a smart move when your food won’t spoil for months or more. So, how will these two competitors compare in the canned, bottled, and boxed goods department?

ProductSam’s ClubCostcoSavings
2 ct of 48 oz Skippy Super Chunk Peanut Butter$9.77$10.48$0.71(6.77%)
12 ct of 15 oz Tomato Sauce Cans (Member’s Mark vs. Kirkland Signature)$6.98$9.49$2.51 (26.45%)
3 ct of 44 oz Heinz Ketchup$6.93$7.99$1.06 (13.27%)
40 ct Quaker OatsFruit & Cream Variety Instant Oatmeal$7.98$10.49$2.51 (23.93%)
20 lbs Royal Basmati Rice$17.98$20.99$3.01 (14.34%)
2 ct of 24 oz Cheerios Honey Nut Cereal$6.94$7.95$1.01 (12.7%)
12 ct of 11.1 oz Coconut Water (Vita Coco vs. Kirkland Signature)$9.82$11.49$1.67 (14.53%)
12 ct of 10.75 oz Campbell’s Condensed Chicken Noodle Soup$9.98$10.49$0.51 (4.86%)
18 ct of 7.25 oz Kraft Macaroni & Cheese$13.98$15.99$2.01 (12.57%)
Total$90.36$105.36$15.00 (14.24%)

To our surprise, Sam’s Club beat Costco in every item we shopped for in the non-perishable goods section. However, the price gap between items at Sam’s Club and Costco was smaller, meaning we saved only 14% in this category compared to the 20% in the last category.

So far, Sam’s Club is looking like the best option–but let’s not draw any conclusions just yet.

Sam’s Club vs. Costco: Health and Beauty Price Comparison

Next up are health and beauty products. This is another great department to shop in bulk, especially if you’ve got space at home to stock up on the essentials.

ProductSam’s ClubCostcoSavings
4 ct of 6.5 oz Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening Advanced Toothpaste$23.98$29.99$6.01 (20.04%)
2 ct 1.5 L Listerine Mouthwash$11.87$13.49$1.62 (12.01%)
5 ct of 2.1 oz Secret Invisible Solid Deodorant in Powder Fresh Scent$9.48$10.99$1.51 (13.74%)
96 ct Tampax Pearl Regular Tampons$12.98$15.99$3.01 (18.82%)
4.2 lb Bar Soap (Dial vs. Kirkland Signature)$6.86$11.49$4.63 (40.3%)
160 oz Hand Soap Refill (Member’s Mark vs. Dial)$6.98$12.49$5.51 (44.12%)
Total$72.15$94.44$22.29 (23.6%)

Again, Sam’s Club beats Costco when it comes to lower prices at every item we shopped for. This time, we saved a total of $22 by choosing Sam’s club over Costco. That’s a whopping 23% of total savings for the home and beauty department.

You might be thinking that Sam’s Club is clearly the best choice–but read on, because the results of our comparison might surprise you. In addition to the best prices, we also analyze the services and reputations of these competitors to decide which store is the better option.

Sam’s Club vs. Costco: Home Essentials Price Comparison

Another department that people commonly go to bulk retailers for is home essentials. Paper products like toilet paper, tissues, and paper towels won’t go bad, so bulking up shouldn’t be an issue for most households. Plus, it’s a good idea to buy other essentials that are always great to have around the house.

Here’s how Costco and Sam’s Club compare.

ProductSam’s ClubCostcoSavings
200 ct 13 Gal Drawstring Kitchen Trash Bags (Member’s Mark vs. Kirkland Signature)$16.74$18.99$2.25 (11.85%)
36 Rolls of Ultra Soft 2-Ply Toilet Paper (Member’s Mark vs. Kirkland Signature)$15.98$26.99$11.01 (40.79%)
12 Rolls of Paper Towels (Member’s Mark vs. Kirkland Signature)$13.58$19.99$6.41 (32.07%)
2,000 Sheets of 2-Ply Tissues (Member’s Mark vs. Kirkland Signature)$12.48$16.36$3.88 (23.72%)
127 oz HE Laundry Detergent (Member’s Mark vs. Kirkland Signature)$8.99$16.99$8.00 (47.09%)
320 Bounce Dryer Sheets$9.98$11.49$1.51 (13.14%)
18 in x 500 ft Aluminum Foil (Member’s Mark vs. Kirkland Signature)$16.48$22.49$6.01 (26.72%)
100 oz Dish Soap (Member’s Mark vs. Kirkland Signature)$6.98$6.66$0.32 (4.58%)
Total$101.21$139.96$38.75 (27.69%)

Again, Sam’s Club comes out ahead as the savings champion, saving us nearly $40. Shopping at Sam’s was roughly 27% less expensive than shopping at Costco for home essentials like paper products and cleaning supplies.

Some items saw a steep difference, such as laundry detergent and toilet paper, which were nearly half price at Sam’s Club compared to Costco! And even though Costco had one win in this category, the price difference was marginal–a mere 32 cents.

Sam’s Club vs. Costco: Electronics Price Comparison

Like many other retailers, Costco and Sam’s Club both feature a wide selection of electronics for your home.

ProductSam’s ClubCostcoSavings
Sony 55″ Class 4K HDR LED TV Series X90CJ Bravia$1,299.00$1,299.00$0 (0%)
Xbox Wireless Controller$49.00$59.99$10.99 (18.32%)
Apple Airpods Pro$199.98$199.99$0.01(0.01%)
Patio Heater (Member’s Mark vs. Fire Sense)$149.98$139.99$9.99(6.66%)
Total$1,697.96$1,698.97$1.01 (0.06%)

At the end of the day, if you’re after large purchases like electronics, Costco and Sam’s Club measure up as equals. Some electronics, like televisions, featured the exact same prices, while others, like Apple Airpods, only saw a marginal price difference.

For other electronics, the cheaper store is a toss-up depending on the exact appliance you’re looking for.

Sam’s Club vs. Costco: Pet Supplies Price Comparison

Having pets is a lot like having kids. They’re a lot of responsibility–and a lot of money! So, let’s see where you can save the most when shopping for your furry friends.

ProductSam’s ClubCostcoSavings
35 lbs Adult Dry Dog Food (Member’s Mark vs. Kirkland Signature)$28.48$38.49$10.01 (26.01%)
60 oz Doggy Dental Chews (Member’s Mark vs. Kirkland Signature)$16.38$31.01$14.63 (47.18%)
25 lbs Dry Chicken Cat Food (Purina vs. Kirkland Signature)$18.48$31.99$13.51 (42.23%)
24” Small Nest Style Dog Bed (Canine Creations vs. Kirkland Signature)$17.98$39.99$22.01 (55.04%)
24 lb Capacity Pet Carrier (Mobile Dog Gear vs. Swiss Gear)$79.98$49.99$29.99 (37.5%)
Total$161.30$191.47$30.17 (15.76%)

If you’ve noticed a pattern, it’s because there is one. Yet again, Sam’s Club offers lower prices than Costco, saving us about $30 when we shopped for cats and dogs.

It’s important to recognize that although Member’s Mark and Kirkland Signature are both considered premium brands, they may not be as equal as you think when you look at the quality of the ingredients. Brand quality could account for much of the price disparities in this category. 

Sam’s Club vs. Costco: Baby Products Price Comparison

Next up is a section for the kids–more specifically, the very expensive babies and infants. Between formula, diapers, toys, and clothes, you know how important it is to save everywhere you can–and here’s how.

ProductSam’s ClubCostcoSavings
174 Size 2 + 192 Size 1 Diapers (Member’s Mark vs. Kirkland Signature)$47.38$32.99$14.39 (30.37%)
48 oz. Baby Formula Powder (Member’s Mark vs. Kirkland Signature)$22.98$18.85$4.13 (17.97%)
6-Pack Cotton Infant Bodysuit (Member’s Mark vs. Kirkland Signature)$11.98$12.97$0.99 (7.63%)
Crib (Little Seeds Monarch Hill Ivy Metal vs. Bailey Convertible Mini)$199.98$169.99$29.99 (15%)
24 ct 8 oz PediaSure Vanilla Shake $36.98$29.99$6.99 (18.9%)
Total$319.30$264.79$54.51 (17.07%)

The baby section was the only place where Costco truly came out on top–and they did by a lot. A whopping $54 price gap popped up in this category, which is the most of any section in this price comparison. This helped tip the scales in the total comparison.

Costco was cheaper for every item except children’s bodysuits–but even then, Sam’s Club only had a 99 cent advantage. For any large items like cribs, strollers, high-chairs, or car seats, we definitely recommend Costco over Sam’s Club.

Sam’s Club vs. Costco: Clothing Price Comparison

Both Sam’s Club and Costco have great deals on clothing that you won’t find at most department stores. And, they feature clothing for every member of the family!

ProductSam’s ClubCostcoSavings
2-Pack Standard Black Leggings (Member’s Mark vs. Felina)$19.96$16.99$2.97 (14.88%)
2-Pack Women’s Tee (Gap vs. Felina)$19.96$19.99$0.03 (0.15%)
Men’s Performance Short (Denali vs. Kirkland Signature)$9.98$15.99$6.01 (37.59%)
3-Pack Men’s Tee (Hanes vs. 21 Degrees Cool)$9.49$9.97$0.48 (4.81%)
2-Pack Levi’s Boys Graphic Tee$14.98$9.99$4.99 (33.31%)
Girls Romper $6.49$9.97$3.48 (34.9%)
Total$80.86$82.90$2.04 (2.46%)

All in all, we only saved $2, but Sam’s Club was the cheaper choice again.

If you’re interested in shopping for clothes at Costco or Sam’s Club, it’s important to note that Costco is more likely to carry big brand name items like Adidas, Tommy Hilfiger, Nike, and the like, while Sam’s Club opts for cheaper clothing brands such as Sketchers, Reebok, and Gap. Depending on your style and priorities, that may help you decide which store is better for you.

Sam’s Club vs. Costco: Services and Public Perception Comparison

You might be wondering, if Sam’s Club is clearly cheaper than Costco, why are we still trying to figure out which one is better? Well, Sam’s Club’s low prices come at a cost.

Here are some common services we compared across these retailers:

ServiceSam’s ClubCostco
ShippingSam’s Club offers free shipping for all members, but there are limitations for Club Members.Shipping is free on orders over $75, but there is a $3 fee on smaller orders.
Curbside PickupSam’s Club offers free same-day curbside pickup for members. Costco also offers free curbside pickup to members, but only the member who paid for the products can pick them up. It may take 2 days to be ready to pick up, though.
DeliverySam’s club offers same-day delivery through Instacart, at all locations, even for non-members. Costco offers same-day delivery through Instacart, even if you’re not a member.

Return Policy
Sam’s Club’s return policy is slightly worse than Costco’s. See Sam’s Club’s return policy here.Costco’s return policy is slightly better than Sam’s Club’s. Read Costco’s return policy here.
Auto Services Sam’s Club offers a car-buying service, plus when you buy their tires, you can redeem free tire rotation, balancing, and 24/7 roadside assistance.Costco offers all that, plus auto insurance (with additional perks for executive members) and discounted services and parts from their partners.
Employee TreatmentSam’s Club offers fewer benefits, lower pay, and a worse working environment to employees.Costco has long been praised for its humane treatment of employees.
Customer ServiceSam’s Club doesn’t have horrible reviews when it comes to customer service, but the reviews also aren’t overwhelmingly positive.Costco ranks higher than Sam’s Club when it comes to customer service.

We found that the slightly higher prices at Costco may be worth the money–if you’re looking for quality over quantity.

Here are some major points we want to expand on.

Return Policy

Both retailers, Sam’s Club and Costco, offer generous return policies and even offer to refund the full price of your membership if you’re not satisfied. But there are a few details that make Costco’s return policy more pleasant for shoppers.

Sam’s Club will only refund shipping costs as well if there was an error on their side, but Costco always includes shipping and handling fees for online returns.

Plus, Costco features a shorter list of non-returnable items and better warranty options for large purchases.

Employee Treatment

Since Sam’s Club is under the Walmart brand, it comes as no surprise that employee benefits are not stellar. On the other hand, since Costco opened its doors in 1983, it has been praised for its high standard of employee treatment and pay.

Costco is one of the best employers in the US since it offers a positive working environment, good pay, great benefits, and additional job perks. This is a big reason Costco’s prices are higher than Sam’s Club’s.

FAQs About Sam’s Club and Costco

Which is better, Costco or Sam’s Club?

For us, Costco is the better wholesaler to shop at, even though their prices are slightly higher. Sam’s Club is the cheaper option, but Costco offers better service to their customers and their employees, plus higher quality products. You get what you pay for in this case. For more information, check out our ultimate price comparison and analysis of the pros and cons of both Sam’s Club and Costco.

What is the difference between Sam’s Club and Costco?

Both Sam’s Club and Costco sell cheap bulk items, but Costco is an independent company while Sam’s Club is owned and operated by Walmart Inc. Sam’s Club, like Walmart, offers lower prices–but at the cost of quality, customer service, and employee benefits.

Which came first, Costco or Sam’s Club?

Walmart came first. The first Costco opened in Midwest City, OK, in 1983, 19 years after the first Walmart opened its doors in Arizona in 1961. But Target and Kroger both came before Costco and Sam’s Club in 1902 and 1993, respectively. To find out which wholesale store is the best for you to shop at, check out our ultimate comparison!

Who owns Sam’s Club?

Sam’s Club is a division of Walmart Inc, and in 2018, it accounted for 12% of Walmart’s total sales. And in 2020, Sam’s Club made $64 billion in total revenue. To learn more about Walmart and how their prices compare, check out’s price comparison list and FAQs!

So, Which is Better: Sam’s Club or Costco?

The answer is highly dependent on your priorities when shopping.

The biggest benefits to shopping at Costco include:

  • A better shopping experience with more variety and better customer support
  • Higher quality items and healthier foods
  • Significantly better pay and benefits for employees

At Sam’s Club, the strongest draw is low prices.

Plus, the wholesaler you choose to shop at may be largely dependent on which one is close to you. Unlike smaller stores like Walmart or Target, wholesale warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s Club are few and far between.

Your drive to your closest retailer is a valid variable to put into the equation of which store is best for you.

Is there something you don’t see on this list that you’d like to know about? Ask us in the comments below, and we may update the list for you!

Rebecca Choi is a freelance writer, designer, and contributor to from Philadelphia, PA. Armed with her Bachelor's Degree in English and Graphic Design from Arcadia University, she pursues a life of creation and hopes to earn an M.Arch in the near future. Her passions include reading novels, writing poetry, promoting mental health and wellness, and creating functional artwork.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Register New Account
Reset Password