Are Buying Clubs Really Worth It? Sams or Costco?

Updated on April 21, 2011
S.M. asks from Lakeside, CA
14 answers

One reason I haven't joined is because I rarely have enough money and my bills run so that I can't buy big amounts at once. But this next week I'll be taking in an additional lump sum and in a few weeks have a tax return. I'm thinking I could pay the van payment a couple months ahead and re-arrange the way I pay things so that I could do a couple bigger trips per month. I also need to buy commercial paper towels for my dispensers and I'm tired of paying shipping and handling for them.

For those of you that know what Aldi and Save-a-Lot are, is it cheaper to buy in bulk at the clubs than just going there?

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So What Happened?

Thanks for the insight. We have a Sam's that is near other places we shop. Costco is out of my way but near my husbands work. Only he didn't like it for the bakery and fruits and vegetables which is what he wanted it for. He buys a lot of food for work parties and photo shoots where they eat the food after being photo'd. But he just didn't care for it.

I have had issues with Sam's in the past because like others here, it's so tempting to buy other things I don't need or don't need NOW. But it does occur to me that if I totally change the way I do things I actually do need those things. I just need to plan it. I usually have thousands of receipts to go through for my business which I save for the end of the year LOL! If I bought more at once and had most things on those receipts, it would be easier in the end to do my taxes.

I am also enjoying that the Sam's has the free service where I can order online and they'll have it ready for me. That's cool. It would totally give me more time to choose without impulse once I figure out what paper towels I like and other things I use for the business.

BUT...I like the idea of getting the fee back in the rewards that Costco offers. Sam's only offers rewards if you use their credit card. NO thanks!

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answers from Houston on

I totally save money on everything at costco. For example i can get 6 gatorades for 5 dollars (AT my local food fair), or 28 gatorades for 10 dollars at costco. 1 package of vegan sausage for almost 4 dollars(at kroger), or 5 packages for 10 dollars (at costco). Very few things aren't a deal, personally i think you can get clothes and dvds and stationary cheaper at walmart, but food and cleaning racking up.

Not to mention costco is a very fair trade company, their policies for their employees are astounding and their food products are available in a wide variety of environmentally and nutritionally conscience options.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Los Angeles on

I love Costco. I like having extras on hand, its much cheaper to shop this way, the kirkland and pul newman (store brands) are awesome products. We got the executive card and already have over 100 store credit coming back, and the year isnt up till August. Their return policy is awesome, no receipts required, no questions asked. They dont carry every brand though, they do the "better" brand of everything. Clothes, shoes, bedding, is all great quality. Online shopping, photostation, I love costco LOL

I should add, Im very bad a picking up things spur of the moment, and costco, its not so easy to do, because 8 items can often cost 160, so I try to keep the bill down, and end up not splurging the way I would in say walmart...

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answers from Chicago on

It depends on your personality. If you're like me, you will tell yourself that you are saving money by buying toilet paper, paper towels, ground beef, crackers, etc in bulk.

But then you will try a sample of their latest offering, and end up throwing that into your cart. And then you will decide to go ahead and buy a rotisserie chicken for lunch. And since you've already gone over budget, you will buy new PJs for your kids since they are so much cheaper than at Target and they might not be there the next time you shop there. And oh, look! There's that digital camera you've been wanting....

I shop at Costco for the quality of their products and their liberal return policy. I don't think I actually save much money since I have a tendency to buy things I don't really need while I'm there. But I do love shopping there. And I almost always run into a friend there too, so I figure it helps keep me in touch with my friends :-)

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answers from St. Louis on

Like the others here, I love my Costco membership. If you get it, I too recommend getting the Executive one for $100. I always get back money to make it worthwhile. I'm not sure if they do this at all Costcos but at mine, if my check back is less than $50, you just take the check to the customer service desk there and they will make up the difference and give you $50 back. So, I always only pay at least $50 for the Executive one which is the same cost as their regular card.

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answers from San Francisco on

I get the Costco annual executive membership. It's $100, but I always get a rebate of enough to bring it down to less than $50, which is what the regular membership costs. I'm pretty sure I save a lot at Costco, not just on food.

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answers from San Francisco on

Yes.... but
you need to keep an eye on the price per unit. It's not always the best price out there. And of course, stick to your list which is easier said than done.



answers from Kansas City on

I am a HUGE Costco fan. I am a single mother, but still find incredible deals on childrens' clothing, diapers, pull-ups, laundry detergent, cruises, and I even bought my car via Costco and saved $2,000 right off the top of my purchase. If you need tires, they are the best and will replace, for free, any tire that gets damaged that you've purchased there. I always start with them when I have shopping to do. It is well worth the membership for me to belong.



answers from Redding on

I haven't been in Costco for years, but my ex husband is a member and he picks things up for us there with his membership. It is expensive at checkout, but when you break it down, shopping there is worth the membership. Things like toilet paper, laundry soap, shampoo, Q-tips, frozen and canned foods....they last a really long time. He gets all his aspirin and antacids there.
Because of where I work, I rarely get near Costco, but he works nearby so it's convenient for him. He goes there everyday anyway. (To work, not Costco). When I lived closer, I shopped there quite a bit.
I haven't heard of the other two places you mentioned.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I think Costco is vastly better than Aldi - LOTS of fresh produce, We saved a huge amount on diapers, wipes and formula (yeah, all done with those). Plus the prices on generic medications are among the best nationally. And they are supposed to be a great company to work for - so I would rather spend my $$ there than at Sams.


answers from Los Angeles on

For me, our Costco membership is worth it.
I buy anything from wipes and diapers, to toilet paper and paper plates, to meats and fruits and vegetables.
I *especially* love it for holidays, special occassions and parties. Last minute party with over 50 people, oh they want to bring something....don't worry I got it covered...and 9 times outta 10 for a better price.



answers from San Diego on

If you have the room to store bulk items, or if you do more cooking and baking than normal


answers from New York on

We have BJ's and sam's club. They save us alot money. Especially with diapers, formula and wipes. We also shop at Aldi and Save -a -lot but that is just on the small stuff. But we depend on the clubs for the bigger stuff. We also like the clubs for when we have parties and need to buy alot of things. Ends up cheaper in the long run and we sometimes have things left over. Aldi's is great for can goods, chips, blocks of cheese etc. The small things. But things like toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent etc are better to buy in bulk. Lasts longer and saves money. When my daughter started baby food it was cheaper to buy the box at BJ's then to buy at shope rite or walmart. So it really depends on your needs. Good luck in deciding what to do. I love the clubs!



answers from Los Angeles on

I like having a Costco membership not just for the buying in bulk for family, but for the gas we can get. We have a Costco within a mile of us and its ALWAYS 3-5cents cheaper then the other gas stations in the immediate area. Arco usually comes close and occasionally competes, but Costco is closer to the house.

My dad actually figured that if he always buys his gas at Costco the money he saves eventually pays for the cheapest membership fee. Just a thought.



answers from New York on

For us BJ's is a huge savings. They just happen to have several items that we use a lot of at good prices - cheese, apple juice, lunch meats, pork loin, chips, bananas, black olives, spices, eggs and milk.

I highly recommend you make a list of the items you buy frequently and the prices. Then go to the club and check out their prices. See if there's going to be a savings for you.

Most clubs do not ask for id when you enter, so you can just to in. If they do ask for id, just go to customer service and tell them your thinking of joining.

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