As with most things in life, it all comes down to personal preference.
- There are more Sam’s Clubs in the United States than Costco stores.
- It still costs less to join Sam’s Club than Costco.
- Sam’s Club offers a few services not available at Costco.
I recently broke up with Sam’s Club and moved to Costco. I did my research and was sure I was doing the right thing, but after months of shopping at Costco, I’m starting to miss Sam a little. It’s like breaking up with someone, only to question your decision months later.
Look, Sam’s Club and Costco are both great. In fact, you can’t go wrong either. But as I remember why I left Sam’s in the first place, I realize that there are some things about Costco that I didn’t factor into my decision.
1. More stores
Sam’s Club has just under 600 stores in the United States, while Costco has 572. While that sounds insignificant, here’s my problem. We recently completed our 24th move. We’ve lived in a ridiculous number of cities and states. I like knowing there’s going to be a big box store in a city we’re moving to or visiting. And the closest big box store in a few rural areas we moved to was Sam’s Club.
2. Cheaper Membership
Sam’s Club membership fees are $50 per year for Club members and $110 for Plus members. It’s $45 for additional subscriptions. At Costco, it costs $60 for a standard Gold Star subscription and $120 for an annual Reward Executive subscription.
Without making a direct comparison of benefits, membership fees are significant. For example, if you have kids in college and want them to have a membership card, it will cost you less if you shop with Sam’s Club.
3. More famous brands
I don’t claim to be a great cook or spend hours in the kitchen creating new culinary delights. From what I understand, I come from a long line of halfhearted cooks. When I’m in the mood to try something new, I prefer to use name brands when possible. Like this I have some idea of what it will taste like. Sam’s Club offers more branded items.
Don’t get me wrong, there are Kirkland products at Costco that I’ve come to love. But when I’m in trouble and not sure what I’m doing, I tend to look for a known brand. It was easier when I shopped at Sam’s Club.
4. Curbside pickup
When the pandemic started, I was one of those people who hated the idea of allowing someone else to shop for me. Given my distaste for shopping, I don’t know why, but it just felt unnatural.
Fast forward two and a half years. When I went to vote recently, I made a mental list of everything I needed to accomplish that day. Remembering that I have Walmart+ and can get groceries delivered to my doorstep brought me a wave of relief. It was something I could cross off the list.
Back when I was a Sam’s Club member, I could order the things I needed online or from the Sam’s app and pick them up curbside when they were ready. I didn’t have to waste time walking into the store and fighting the urge to buy a case of baked goods. I really like that Sam’s Club offers curbside delivery.
In 2021, there were rumors that Costco was going to do the same, but after testing its own curbside pickup programs at select stores, the company decided it was a failure and scrapped the idea.
If you’re someone who wants to save time (and stay away from sneezing and flu-infected people this winter), Sam’s may be the way to go.
5. Scan and go
I don’t hide that I don’t like shopping. While my husband seems to think he’s Lewis and/or Clark as he explores Costco, I want to get in and out of there. Sam made this much easier to do than Costco by offering Scan and Go. With Scan and Go, all I had to do was launch the Sam app, scan items as I put in my shopping cart, pay through the app using my pre-saved credit card information, and show my digital receipt when exiting the store.
The 15 minutes I stood in line at Costco last month to buy Halloween candy is time I will never go back. By the time I worked my way through the second line to show my receipt to a Costco employee, I’m pretty sure I’ve aged a year.
6. Sam’s Club is often less crowded
Do not mistake yourself. There are things about Costco that I really (really) love. I really like most Kirkland products and I like the way Costco treats its employees. Whenever a company treats its employees with respect, I’m there to support that company.
However, a lot of people really love Costco and it shows every time I’m trying to find a parking spot, weaving through crowds to pick up a popular item, or standing in one of those lines. wait times that get old quickly.
Although I can’t determine the reason, Sam’s Club was rarely as crowded as Costco. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but a matter of preference on my part. I kinda like the idea of being the only person in the store.
I do not know. Maybe I miss Sam’s Club a bit these days because it’s been a part of my life for so long. Anyway, Neil Sedaka was right. Breaking up is really hard to do.
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