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Wholesale Shopping Clubs: Which is the BEST?

This week we are reviewing Wholesale Shopping Clubs.

Although these clubs are open to anyone, they all require memberships to be purchased. We  compare the top 3 wholesale clubs and tell you the best and worst features of each.

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Club Name

Costco Wholesale

Sams Club Logo
Annual Membership Cost $55 – Standard Gold Star (for individuals or family)$55 – Business Membership (up to 6 cards included)$110 – Executive Membership with 2% Rewards up to $750 per year
Trial Membership? No official trial membership however you can shop once without a membership as a “prospective member” but you will have to pay a 5% surcharge on purchases.
Best Features Low prices, lots of free samples, large selection of produce, dry ingredients and frozen food, CostcoTravel (cheapest rental cars and cruise deals), Costco Auto (program for buying new and used vehicles at low pre-negotiated prices), high-end brands (jewelry, electronics, handbags).
Worst Features Gas not available at all locations, smaller selection of seasonal products, higher membership cost, products in store vary by state (inconsistent), does not accept Visa or Mastercard (Amex, debit and cash only).
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Club Name

Sam’s Club

Sams Club Logo
Annual Membership Cost $45 – Sam’s Savings (for individuals or family)$45 – Sam’s Business (Click n Pull service, Early Shoping Hours, Instant Savings)$100 – Sam’s Plus (Instant Savings Plus, Extra Protection Service Plan and more)
Trial Membership? You can print a 1-day trial pass from their website however you will still pay a 10% surcharge on all purchases. Members do not pay any surcharge.
Best Features Lower membership cost, more business products/supplies, larger selection of seasonal products for home/garden, great return policy on almost everything. Cheapest Gas in Town!
Worst Features Smaller selection of dry foods (coffee, cereal, cooking supplies, etc), lower-end TV selection, not as many free samples as Costco.
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Club Name

BJ’s Wholesale Club

Annual Membership Cost $50 – BJ’s Inner Circle (for individuals or family, free 2nd card)$50 – BJ’s Business (tax-exempt or resale options, free 2nd card)$100 – BJ’s Rewards (2% cash back on purchases, discounts on specialty services)
Trial Membership? A free 60-day no obligation membership is easy to get and does not auto-renew after expiry. No surcharge or purchase restrictions.
Best Features Free 2nd card for all membership levels, lower membership cost (compared to Costco), large bakery selection, accepts major credit cards, best trial membership.
Worst Features High prices, lower-end brands (comparable to Walmart), fewer locations, bland interior.

Shopping Tip

Split purchases with a friend or family member if you cannot use so much of one item (example: 64 rolls of toilet paper). Be careful buying too much meat or product as it can spoil before you are able to eat it all. Sharing is a great way to deal with that.

Bottom Line

Wholesale clubs are a great way to save lots of money on almost all of your shopping purchases. You usually make up for the cost of the memberships after your first 1-2 visits as savings can be significant. Costco will refund your membership at anytime if you are unhappy so there is no risk. Another great benefit of shopping at wholesale clubs such as Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale is that the stores offer combo products not available anywhere else (example: Nikon DSLR camera package with extra lenses, bag and memory card). If you can, shop at all 3 wholesale clubs in order to save the most money on the widest variety of products. Each wholesale club has it’s own specialties and best prices on certain products.  I shop at Costco the most (1-2 times a week), at Sam’s only 2-3 times a month but only a few times a year at BJ’s – they just aren’t that good.

If you have to chose only one Wholesale Club for your shopping, make it Costco – you’ll be happy you did!

Disclaimer: The opinions stated above are solely those of the author, written for informational purposes, and are in no way official statements or claims from Costco, Sam’s Club, BJ’s Wholesale or their employees. The author has not received any compensation for writing this review.

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