Whether you choose to shop at warehouse stores or not, buying in bulk is a basic strategy for savers everywhere. But is it worth it to shop at a bulk warehouse store like Sam’s Club for low prices when its sister store, Walmart, is completely free to enter?
That’s what we’re here to find out.
We tracked various prices of items across both brands to find out if Sam’s Club really does have better deals that make the membership fees worth it. We also compared their services and policies to help you figure out which store may suit your needs better.
If you don’t have time to analyze all our charts, don’t worry. Just check out the beginning and end of this blog to see an overview of our findings.
Comparison Methodology: How We Compared Walmart and Sam’s Club
For the most part, our comparison methodology relied on comparing prices on the same or similar items offered by each retailer.
If Walmart didn’t offer the same bulk item as Sam’s Club, we used the price per pound or ounce amount to figure out what it would cost if we bought the same amount. And if both stores didn’t offer the same cheap brand product, we shared which two brands were compared–most often Walmart’s cheap Great Value brand and Sam’s Club’s Member’s Mark brand.
We crafted an ultimate grocery list that includes items from each essential category that most families would buy regularly.
You’ll see how much you can save on:
- each item we compared
- each category we compared
- the total cart price
Then, we examined the services, policies, and public perception of each shopping experience to come to a conclusion about which store will save you more money–Sam’s Club or Walmart.
We made this price comparison in June 2021 in the Southwest region of the US, and it’s important to acknowledge that prices can vary per region–so don’t go running to your local store if you see a deal here that you’d like to redeem. Always check beforehand and remember to clip coupons!
Sam’s Club vs. Walmart Price Comparison Summary
Let’s get down to business. Here’s a summary of the prices per category at Sam’s Club and Walmart.
|Health and Beauty||$71.05||$124.22||$53.17 (42.8%)|
|Over-the-Counter Pharmacy||$75.97||$91.15||$15.18 (16.65%)|
|Home Essentials||$135.28||$156.71||$21.43 (13.67%)|
|Pet Care||$157.90||$179.72||$21.82 (12.14%)|
|Total Cart Price||$1,045.24||$1,147.98||$102.74 (8.95%)|
We found that Sam’s Club won out as the superior savings store overall and for 5 out of 8 categories. Walmart took the lead by mere cents in two categories but saw significant savings in the baby department. At the end of this master shopping trip, we saved over $100 by shopping at Sam’s Club instead of Walmart–and that’s enough to pay for the elite Club Plus membership offered by Sam’s
At face value, it might look like Sam’s Club is the better bargain retailer, but the truth is that it depends on your specific needs and habits as a buyer if even the basic $45 annual membership is worth it.
Read on to dissect which items you can save the most on, which services you’ll want to take advantage of, and how to decide whether Sam’s Club or Walmart is a better option for you.
One important difference between these two retailers is that Sam’s Club doesn’t accept coupons–but more on that later. Let’s dive into the pre-coupon prices for each of these common categories.
Sam’s Club vs. Walmart: Groceries Price Comparison
Sam’s Club and Walmart both offer grocery sections, although the quality of Walmart’s food can be questionable at times. Since Sam’s Club seems to upstage Walmart in terms of quality, you might expect it to be a little pricier–so these results might surprise you.
|48 oz, 72 slices Kraft Singles American Cheese||$6.98||$11.12||$4.14 (37.23%)|
|1 Gallon Vitamin D Whole Milk (Swiss Dairy vs. Great Value)||$3.18||$2.73||$0.45 (14.15%)|
|18 count of 6 oz Yoplait Variety Yogurt||$6.98||$8.97||$1.99 (22.19%)|
|5 Dozen Eggs (Hickman’s Family Farms vs. Great Value)||$7.76||$7.50||$0.26 (3.35%)|
|2 count of 20 oz Nature’s Own 100% Whole Wheat Bread||$4.18||$5.76||$1.58 (27.43%)|
|1 Gal Tropicana Orange Juice||$6.28||$6.98||$0.70 (10.03%)|
|3 lb Bananas||$1.38||$1.62||$0.24 (14.81%)|
|1 lb Broccoli||$2.48||$1.48||$1.00 (40.32%)|
|5 lb Gala Apples||$5.28||$5.85||$0.57 (9.74%)|
|10 lb Frozen Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast (Member’s Mark vs. Freshness Guaranteed)||$16.98||$17.80||$0.82 (4.61%)|
|4 lb 80/20 Ground Beef (Member’s Mark vs. Kirkland Signature)||$14.72||$15.92||$1.2 (7.54%)|
|48 oz Skippy Super Chunk Peanut Butter||$4.89||$6.89||$2.00 (29.03%)|
|12 count of 15 oz Tomato Sauce Cans (Member’s Mark vs. Kirkland Signature)||$6.98||$9.36||$2.38 (25.43%)|
|3 count of 44 oz Heinz Ketchup||$6.93||$8.18||$1.25 (15.28%)|
|40 count Quaker OatsFruit & Cream Variety Instant Oatmeal||$7.98||$9.76||$1.78 (18.24%)|
|20 lbs Royal Basmati Rice||$17.98||$18.52||$0.54 (2.92%)|
|2 count of 24 oz Cheerios Honey Nut Cereal||$6.94||$8.11||$1.17 (14.43%)|
|35 12 oz cans of Dr. Pepper||$11.98||$10.18||$1.80 (15.03%)|
|12 count of 10.75 oz Campbell’s Condensed Chicken Noodle Soup||$9.98||$10.44||$0.46 (4.41%)|
|18 count of 7.25 oz Kraft Macaroni & Cheese||$13.98||$16.20||$2.22 (13.7%)|
After shopping for the basics for both our pantry and our fridge, we saved almost $20 by choosing Sam’s Club over Walmart. However, it’s important to note that most prices were very similar, with the widest margin for savings at $4 for the Kraft singles.
However, when you choose to shop at Sam’s Club, it’s essential that you avoid overbuying. While that deal on spaghetti sauce or cheese sounds great (and it usually is a great deal), you’re not saving money by buying more than you need and letting it go to waste.
So, when it comes to which is better for grocery shopping, it depends on how quickly you can consume the bulk foods offered by Sam’s Club.
If you’ve got a big family at home, you can probably get most things at Sam’s Club, but if you’ve got a smaller family who eats less, you may want to divide your shopping list between Walmart and Sam’s Club to make the most out of your money.
Sam’s Club vs. Walmart: Health and Beauty Price Comparison
Next on the list, we have health and beauty. Hygiene products are essential for any home, and here’s where you should be stocking up:
|13 oz Sensodyne Pronamel Gentle Whitening Advanced Toothpaste||$11.99||$33.28||$21.29 (63.97%)|
|2 ct 1.5 L Listerine Cool Mint Mouthwash||$11.87||$13.56||$1.69 (12.46%)|
|4.2 oz Secret Invisible Solid Deodorant in Powder Fresh Scent||$3.79||$4.79||$1.00 (20.88%)|
|96 ct Tampax Pearl Regular Tampons||$12.98||$17.76||$4.78 (26.91%)|
|22 4 oz Bars of Dial Soap||$8.98||$10.95||$1.97 (17.99%)|
|40 fl oz of Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Pump Shampoo||$6.98||$8.24||$1.26 (15.29%)|
|72 oz Dove Nourishing Body Wash for Sensitive Skin||$14.46||$35.64||$21.18 (59.43%)|
Sam’s Club blew the health and beauty section out of the water! It beat Walmart for every product, saving us a total of $50+ across the board. The prices Sam’s Club offers are over 40% cheaper than the prices offered at Walmart.
If we had to guess why it’s probably because Sam’s Club offers only bulk bargain deals as a wholesale retailer. Since these products are safe to store for longer periods of time, we highly recommend shopping for health and beauty products at Sam’s Club.
Sam’s Club vs. Walmart: OTC Pharmacy Price Comparison
Walmart and Sam’s Club both offer decently sized pharmacy sections where you can purchase over-the-counter medications. And, as we all know, brand-name medications are expensive. So, which is the cheaper option?
|65 count of Zyrtec Liquid Gels Allergy Medication||$32.98||$43.78||$10.8 (24.67%)|
|108 count of TUMS Chewy Bites Antacid Tablets for Heartburn Relief, Assorted Berries Flavor||$10.98||$13.40||$2.42 (18.06%)|
|100 count of Tylenol Extra Strength 500mg Caplets||$11.98||$9.47||$2.51 (20.95%)|
|100 count of Benadryl Allergy Ultratabs Tablets||$10.05||$11.94||$1.89 (15.83%)|
|100 count of Advil Pain Reliever and Fever Reducer, Individually Sealed, 200mg Coated Tablets of Ibuprofen||$9.98||$12.56||$2.58 (20.54%)|
The winner is Sam’s Club (again!). We saved about $15 by shopping at Sam’s Club instead of Walmart on basic medications that most of us keep in our medicine cabinets. When it came to allergy medicine especially, Sam’s Club saved us over $10.
Another perk of shopping at Sam’s Club’s pharmacy is that Plus members (who pay $100 annually) get special discounts on medications.
The only item that was cheaper at Walmart was the Extra Strength Tylenol, which was nearly $3 less.
If you truly want the lowest prices (which I know you do), then you should shop online for exactly what you need before going out to see the prices at your local stores. Then, you can make an informed decision.
Sam’s Club vs. Walmart: Home Essentials Price Comparison
Next up, we have home essentials. If you’re conservative about your usage, you’ll only need to buy most of these items a few times a year (or even just once!). The best news is that they won’t expire.
|120 count 13 Gal Glad Forceflex Plus with Gain Drawstring Kitchen Trash Bags||$16.48||$24.85||$8.37 (33.68%)|
|36 Mega Rolls of Angel Soft Toilet Paper||$29.88||$27.96||$1.92 (6.43%)|
|660 count of Vanity Fair Everyday Napkins||$9.68||$10.82||$1.14 (10.54%)|
|10 boxes of Puffs Plus Lotion Facial Tissues (132 tissues each)||$15.48||$15.75||$0.27 (1.71%)|
|250 fl oz All Free Clear for Sensitive Skin Liquid Laundry Detergent||$15.82||$17.68||$1.86 (10.52%)|
|320 Bounce Dryer Sheets||$9.98||$11.94||$1.96 (16.42%)|
|500 sq. ft 12″ Reynolds Wrap Aluminum Foil||$17.98||$22.53||$4.55 (20.2%)|
|92 count of Cascade Platinum ActionPacs Dishwasher Detergent||$19.98||$25.18||$5.20 (20.65%)|
Since you can stock up on bulk items at Sam’s Club for less, we highly recommend shopping there for your home essentials instead of Walmart. On average, we only saved a few dollars per item, but when it’s all said and done, the savings were over $20 and 10%–that’s as good as a coupon on your whole order!
Sam’s Club vs. Walmart: Electronics Price Comparison
While you’re likely going to spend the most money at both Sam’s Club and Walmart on groceries and home goods, both retailers also have decently sized departments for large and small electronics.
|6′ HDMI Cable||$1.48||$6.98||$5.5 (78.8%)|
|1 meter long Apple Lightning to USB Cable||$17.98||$16.48||$1.50 (8.34%)|
|Nintendo Switch Joy-Con Pair||$79.98||$69.00||$10.98 (13.73%)|
|16 A19 60W Equivalent LED Light Bulbs (Honeywell vs. Great Value)||$25.98||$19.88||$6.10 (23.48%)|
|48 Energizer MAX AA Batteries||$19.98||$32.48||$12.50 (38.49%)|
In this category, Walmart actually beat Sam’s Club for total cart price–but only by 58 cents. Our conclusion is that it really depends on what you need to buy for which retailer will save you money.
It’s also important to ask yourself if you buy these items in bulk, will you really use them–or will you misplace them and end up buying more? Being a savvy shopper in-store won’t mean as much if disorganization at home causes you to lose the items you saved on.
Sam’s Club vs. Walmart: Pet Care Price Comparison
One of the biggest expenses at home (next to children) is pets. And let’s be honest, we treat our pets like kids anyway. But that doesn’t mean we have to spend more to get more. Here’s how to save on the essentials for your pets at home.
|40 lb Purina Tidy Cats Clumping Litter||$13.98||$16.73||$2.75 (16.44%)|
|57 lb Purina Chicken Complete Adult Dry Dog Food||$20.98||$26.18||$5.20 (19.86%)|
|40 3.5 oz trays of Cesar Canine Cuisine Wet Dog Food||$30.98||$34.90||$3.92 (11.23%)|
|4-Level Cat Tower with Scratching Post||$76.98||$72.00||$4.98 (6.47%)|
|3 pack of Lumabone Durable Bacon Flavored Chew Toys||$14.98||$29.91||$14.93 (49.92%)|
Walking down the pet aisle, we managed to save over $20 by choosing Sam’s instead of Walmart. Although Walmart offered cheaper cat towers, Sam’s Club was better for buying pet essentials like kitty litter, chew toys, and pet food.
For your regular food runs, Sam’s Club is cheaper as long as you make the most out of your membership.
Keep in mind that Walmart tends to offer cheaper items that are often manufactured cheaper, too. So, it may be better to shop there for items that don’t require high quality–like cat toys and pet accessories.
Sam’s Club vs. Walmart: Baby Items Price Comparison
When your baby works their way into the budget, finding ways to save on diapers and formula can mean a lot! So, here’s where you should buy what when it comes to the kids.
|222 count of Size 5 Luvs Pro Level Leak Protection Diapers||$39.98||$47.91||$7.93 (16.55%)|
|40 oz. Enfamil NeuroPro Gentlease Infant Formula||$42.98||$52.53||$9.55 (18.18%)|
|6-Pack Cotton Infant Bodysuit (Member’s Mark vs. Gerber Baby)||$11.98||11.91||$0.07 (0.58%)|
|Convertible Car Seat (Safety 1st vs. Cosco)||$99.98||49.98||$50.00 (50.01%)|
|24 ct 8 oz PediaSure Vanilla Shake||$36.98||41.97||$4.99 (11.89%)|
Of all the categories we looked at, the baby department at Walmart was the only one that won out over Sam’s Club by a significant amount. The largest savings we saw here were for the convertible car seat, where we saved a whopping $50 by choosing Walmart.
However, if it weren’t for that one item (which you should only need to buy once or twice at most), we would have saved over $20 by choosing Sam’s Club instead of Walmart. The takeaway of this cart is similar to the one for pets. Regular purchases like infant formula, clothes, and diapers are better bought at Sam’s Club, but one-time (or few-time) purchases like furniture and accessories are cheaper at Walmart.
Sam’s Club vs. Walmart: Clothes Price Comparison
Now, the babies aren’t the only ones who need clothes! Sam’s Club and Walmart both offer discounted clothing for the whole family–but which store is better?
|Women’s Jean Shorts (Seven7 vs. Free Assembly)||$12.98||$18.00||$5.02 (27.89%)|
|2-Pack Standard Black Leggings (Member’s Mark vs. Warner’s)||$19.96||$19.94||$0.02 (0.1%)|
|3-Pack Hanes Men’s Tees||$9.49||$9.99||$0.5 (5.01%)|
|2-Pack Boys Graphic Tee (Levi’s vs. Wonder Nation)||$14.98||$8.88||$6.1 (40.72%)|
|Girls Romper (Btween vs. Wonder Nation)||$6.49||$6.88||$0.39 (5.67%)|
Even though Walmart won this category, it was only by 21 cents, showing that both Sam’s Club and Walmart are fair competitors when it comes to clothing.
Sam’s Club vs. Walmart: Services and Public Perception Comparison
Sam’s Club and Walmart are both a part of Walmart Inc., but their services vary pretty drastically since one is a typical retail store, and the other is a wholesaler. You can think of Sam’s Club as a bulk member’s only club (which it is) and Walmart as a store that offers cheap stuff for everyone–including shipping and pickup.
|Membership Fees||You’ll need to pay for a membership to walk through the door at Sam’s Club, which will cost at least $45 (for the Club card) and at most $100 (for the Plus card) annually.||There are no membership fees required to shop at Walmart, but you can join Walmart Plus for $98 annually or $12.95 a month to receive special perks.|
|Shipping||Most items are eligible for free shipping for Plus Members, while some items are eligible for free shipping for Club Members. Shipping fees vary based on size, weight, and delivery method.||Walmart offers free 3-5 day shipping on orders over $35.|
|Curbside Pickup||Sam’s Club offers free curbside pickup to Plus Members for free. Pickup for Club Members is free right now, but Sam’s Club has said it is only for a limited time. Same-day is available before 3 pm on 9 items or less when time slots are available.||Same-day curbside pickup at Walmart is free.|
|Delivery||You can receive delivery from Sam’s Club through Instacart, but it will cost you. You can pay $8.99 for same-day delivery or $10.99 for one-hour delivery on orders over $35. Orders under $35 will cost an extra $4, but are eligible for same-day and one-hour delivery.||Walmart offers free next-day and two-day delivery on select items at participating locations when your order is over $35.|
|Coupon Policy||Sam’s Club does not accept coupons of any kind, including manufacturers’ and competitors’ coupons.||Walmart accepts paper manufacturer coupons and print-at-home coupons for your local store.|
|Return Policy||Sam’s Club offers a lenient return policy that you can redeem in-store, online, or via phone call. Restrictions apply to select items, including appliances, heavy equipment, phones, prescriptions, and gift cards.||Walmart offers a 90-day return policy on most items and will process returns without a receipt under certain conditions.|
|Loyalty Programs||With both the Club and Plus Cards, you’ll receive:Access to shop at Sam’s ClubFree flat tire repairs, battery testing, and wiper blade installationExclusive low prices on gasEligibility for the Sam’s Club Mastercard with 5% cashbackWith the Plus Membership, you’ll also get:2% cash back rewardsFree shippingEarly shopping hoursExtra offersSelect free or discount prescriptionsDiscounts on glasses and contacts||With a Walmart Plus account, you’re eligible for free shipping and delivery, mobile check out, and discounts on prescriptions and gas.|
|Customer Service||Since Sam’s Club and Walmart are both owned by the same corporation, it’s no surprise that their customer service is comparable. Both Walmart and Sam’s Club suffer from many negative reviews on Trustpilot. It seems like you have to sacrifice something for low prices.|
To summarize, the advantages of shopping with a Sam’s Club membership include:
- More and better bulk options (including individually packaged snacks)
- Higher quality food options (like gourmet cheeses and wines)
- More options for non-grocery items (like electronics, homewares, and furniture)
- Cheap gas
- 5% cashback rewards (with a Sam’s Club Mastercard)
- Pharmacy discounts (for Plus members only)
- Affordable eye exams (and discounts on glasses for Plus members)
- Auto services (like free tire repair, wiper blade installation, and battery tests)
- Slightly lower prices compared to Walmart
But the advantages to choosing Walmart include:
- No membership fees
- Extra discounts with store, competitor, and manufacturer coupons
- More options to buy in smaller amounts (you don’t save money if your food spoils before you can eat it!)
- More brand options in general
- Fairly comparable prices to Sam’s Club
If you think that you’ll really take advantage of all the perks that a membership at Sam’s Club has to offer, it might be worth the money. But if a Sam’s Club card will only encourage you to spend more than you usually do, it probably isn’t a great tool for saving money. Only you can know if shopping at Sam’s will fit into your lifestyle or not.
FAQs About Sam’s Club and Walmart
Who owns Walmart and Sam’s Club?
Walmart and Sam’s Club are both owned by Walmart Corporate, also referred to as Walmart Inc. or Walmart Incorporated. Walmart Inc. is a publicly-traded company, which means that stockholders technically own Walmart, which are typically investing companies.
Do Walmart employees get a discount at Sam’s Club?
Since Walmart and Sam’s Club are part of the same corporation, you might think that Walmart employees get a discount on Sam’s Club memberships. Well, they don’t. Walmart will kindly take the annual $45 membership fees out of Walmart employees’ paychecks, but they do not offer a discount.
How much do Walmart and Sam’s Club pay their employees?
Walmart pays cashiers $10.17 an hour on average, which is 8% below the national average. Sam’s Club pays cashiers and sales employees $12.04 an hour on average, which is 12% higher than the national average. Since Sam’s Club is a wholesale store, it can pay its employees more money because they need more skilled workers, and they require fewer workers than Walmart.
Can I use a Sam’s Club gift card at Walmart?
Yes. Sam’s Club gift cards can be used at Walmart for equal value–and you don’t need to pay membership fees to get in! You can also use Walmart gift cards at Sam’s Club stores, gas stations, and online. Sam’s Club and Walmart gift cards can be used interchangeably.
Final Thoughts: Sam’s Club vs. Walmart, Which is Better?
The retailer where you’ll save more money really depends on you, your family, and your purchasing habits. If you go through a lot of household, pet, and baby items, shopping at Sam’s Club (and paying the $45 membership fee) might be worth it.
But, if you get roped into paying an annual $100 Plus member fee and don’t use many of the perks that make it worth the money–or worse, you start overspending because you think it will save you more in the long run–skipping the membership and choosing Walmart may be better.
Wherever you decide to shop, the best way to save money is to live within your means, avoid wasting things you buy, and check for coupons for Sam’s Club and Walmart before you buy!
When I go shopping at Sam’s Club and compare price per unit/oz/gal/etc it comes out about the same as Walmart prices for the same unit/oz/gal/etc.
I do find that the meats are cheaper than Walmart and some bakery items but generally I don’t see the reason to keep paying $45.00 per year for similar prices when you break it down to its price per unit/oz/gal/etc.
The car gasoline is a little bit cheaper per gallon and you can purchase a larger size (Bulk) but you would believe the price per item would be cheaper than at Walmart that sells in smaller quantities.
Hey Ellis, thank you for the insight!