Sam's vs Costco vs Not Joining

Updated on June 10, 2011
K.H. asks from Dallas, TX
35 answers

When our first child was born, we joined Sam's. I never felt like we were saving money, just spending more, so we didn't renew it. But now, we have three children, including two in diapers. I feel like I buy toilet paper and diapers on a daily basis, in addition to bananas by the crate! Those who have memberships - are you really saving money after the membership fee? I know friends like Costco's products better, but does it save money. It's a haul to go to either for us, so I want to be sure I'm saving money. Love to hear your thoughts.

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Kansas City on

Well we have a Sams card, and sometimes wish we had Costco instead. We do save some money, but do spend extra too - so where is the savings? I just like to buy snacks in bulk for the kids they are so much cheaper. And I like their meat and produce. But if you catch some good sales at the grocery store and stock up that way I'll bet it's about the same. I miss Costco's bakery.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I would talk to a GF or a neighbor and see if you can "share" the membership.

That's what I do. We go shopping and buy the things we need in 'bulk' but can't use all....saves us money and storage...

I find that it makes it easier that way on things we need but might not use all before they go bad!!


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Love love love costco. We have had a memebership for years. It is up the middle of this month and sadly we dont have the funds to renew...Lucky for us though my Husband has a card through his work. So, we will still be able to go shop:)

I am careful how much BULK produce I buy there...The bananananas are usually good from there because they are so green. Anything else produce wise I am very careful almost reluctant to buy...we never seem to eat it all fast enough.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Dallas on

We shop Costco, family of 3 and I go about once every 3 months.

I buy basics that we use a lot and I feel like we save money on them. My staple products at Costco are toilet paper, paper towels, baby wipes (great for cleaning), peanut butter, butter, cheese, canned goods if they are the brand I like.

As for couldn't pay me to shop at a Sam's or Walmart. I boycott them and will go out of my way to never, ever shop them.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

It depends. I only go to Sam's for certain items that I use all the time, so buying in bulk really is saving us money. Membership at Sam's is only $35/year, so it is worth it. We also shop there when we are having a party and need more of everything to serve to our guests.

If you decide to shop at Sam's or Costco, make sure that the store you choose has the diaper brand that you use and toilet paper brand that you like. When our boys were in diapers, we had a membership to Sam's, only to discover they didn't have the diapers or wipes that we liked to use. That stunk, so we didn't renew our membership for awhile. We were spending enough as it was on baby stuff, so we couldn't justify it.

I don't know much about Costco, but my sister-in-law loves shopping there!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

i onnly go to sams to buy meat chesse bread bottle water and trashbags and i have 2 kids in diapers buy i buy it at target try it the target brand works really good and are way less expensive that huggies or pampers or sams choice brand .

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I honestly felt like our Costco membership was a waste of money when our kids were babies/toddlers. We didn't buy diapers (used cloth) and didn't have the room to store things in bulk.
But now that we have two teens, a tween and a big house, yes it is absolutely worth it! I still dread going and dealing with the masses but it's a huge money saver for things like garbage bags, dog food, paper goods and grocery staples like milk, butter and meat.
I don't have any experience with Sams but I've talked to people who love it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

It depends on what you buy there. I only buy toiletries, allergy meds, tylenol, etc. Recently, Kroger had children's Claritin on sale for $17.99 for 20 chewables and Costco with their coupon that they mail had 40 chewable for $17.99. So, I can pay off the membership by just buying allergy meds there. As far as food goes, I don't find buying in bulk works for our family. I end up wasting too much food.

Whether to join Costco or Sam's depends on what brands you want to buy. I joined Sam's years ago when my daughter was in diapers because they sold pampers at a good price. They stopped selling pampers and then I switched to Costco.

They will let you walk through to check it out if you ask. You may have to check out the prices and do the math to figure out if it is worth it for your family.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Atlanta on

Personally I don't think the saving's is that significant. Where I live the only "warehouse" type store is a haul. Combine that with gas prices and combine that with the fact they don't take coupons -its not worth it to me. The only warehouse I would consider to join is BJ's because they take manufactorer coupons and they also have their own coupons as well to take advantage of. Combine that with the fact that they also take credit cards-not that I suggest you buy groceries on those unless yuo pay the balance off the following month but its nice to know they have several forms of payment whereas Costco and Sam's does not......I'm just waiting for them to put one up by my house because the closest one to me is one town over ;()(

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I like Costco better, but I have a membership to both. My husband's grandmother added me to her Sam's account. I pay for half. Costco will only allow people of the same household to share an account. So I paid 60% of the cost and my neighbor paid 40. I paid more so I could have the card. When she needs something we either go together or she gives me a list. It has worked well. We do save money, but you have to shop carefully and know the price of things in regular stores. Costco guarantees everything, so you can get your money back if you don't like a product. Many of their generics are also made by name brands....Kirkland diapers are made by HUggies (I think). Some of the generic coffee comes from the Starbucks suppliers, etc. For us it has saved us some, but we live close, gas isn't too much of an issue. I wouldn't say we have saved a bundle, but every bit helps.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Bloomington on

We have a Sam's membership, but if Costco was closer we'd definitely have one there too! I think Sam's is only like $40 a year. I definitely feel like we save the $40 back! I get cleaning products, paper goods, snacks, frozen foods, fresh fruit, baby wipes, ect... I love to stock up and not worry about buying things every week!

We also use the Target diapers...Love them! We buy the Sam's wipes though.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I'm a big Aldi shopper (very cheap grocery store) and I've found Sams club to be as cheap as Aldi. With that being said, I have to have a place to store everything since Sams is in bulk. I also have to make sure we'll use it, for example, they had a container of about 12 or 14 plums - they went bad before we ate them all - so wasnt' a good buy. I also think I spend less over all, because when I run to Target/walmart to get TP, I don't just get TP, I get a cart load of other stuff. So, by buying in bulk, I'm actually limiting my target/walmart trips, i limit spending.



answers from Colorado Springs on

We love our Costco membership. We got the executive membership because you get a % back of everything you buy. It always covers our yearly membership cost plus almost another $100 on top of that for us. Their produce is fantastic, and very affordable. We are a family of 8, with three of those being teenaged boys. ;) So, yes, it is well worth it for us. Before Costco came to our town we only had a Sam's. I did not join Sam's. I was thrilled when Costco was built.



answers from Denver on

We are a family of 5. We had a costco membership and didn't renew. I felt that I could buy basics almost if not as cheap at target/walmart. I love Target's generic brands.... Also, I found I bought stuff at costco that went to waste b/c the sizes were so large - OR plain bought stuff we didn't need b/c it seemed like a good deal. Having said that, we do occasionally borrow my mother in law's card when we really want to buy things in bulk or a special item. Do a little research on the prices/sales at some local stores and you may find you do just as well.



answers from Dallas on

I am against any store or business that would have the customer pay a fee for their loyatly.



answers from Dallas on

Have you joined Amazon Mom? It's totally free, and you earn free "Prime" (2-day) shipping for all baby/kid products you buy. Also, their subscribe 'n' save diapers service is a lifesaver for me. It's a 30% discount! Before you spring for a membership and commit to constant "haul" drives, I'd check it out and see what you think.



answers from Dallas on


We have a Sams membership. I get our TP there and a few
Cleaning supplies. My inlaws split the cost and share the
Membership with us or we would probably let it go. I liked Costcos products better but didn't get enough there besides fun things to make it worth it, plus they aren't close to me at all.

I have a baby and I joined the mom's club on You get 30 percent off any baby item plus free shipping. I save so much. I buy huge boxes of wipes and diapers. You set up when you want them to come but can change that at any time. They also send you an email before they ship in plenty of time to cancel or change your order.


answers from Minneapolis on

I have had a Sams membership for ??maybe 15 years. The picture on my card is OLD! LOL. One of these days they will make me get a new one!

I do home daycare, so there is benefit there, but don't ahve a ton of space to store stuff for bulk. Just a bit. I go there first each Sunday (shopping day) and probly buy about 80% of my items there. I get laundry soap, fabric softener and dryer sheets, paper towels, TP, hamburger...sometimes other meats....lots of produce (but you gotta look at it good...hit or miss...but mostly I find some fruit and always bananas). I get yogurt and Eggo waffles, double packs of shredded brand name cheese, soft shell tortillas, Cherrios and Mini Wheats, Splenda, 8pks of canned tomatoes, hubbys Stride Gum, toothpaste and toothbrushes (we replace often after colds and sinus infections), they carry our brand of bar soaps and razors, hubbys vitamins, generic type tylonol/advil and cold medicines. I just got a multi-pack of Coppertone Kids spray sunscreen (I go thru alot with daycare and it was a good price!). I get Sams brand formula for my daycare.

We even bought some great (but inexpensive) frying pans and sharp knives from their restaurant stuff..and my fave...stainless steel mixing bowls that were WAY WAY cheaper than any other store I priced them out..and we got this GINORMOUS one that is fantastic for parties for chips or for when we have popcorn on movie nights!!! My teen daughter does cupcake-making parties all the time with her friends so the bowls are great!

For us, those things above are staples that we always stock...the splenda and canned tomatoes and cereals and such. But I also get other things elsewhere. I like many of the Target "up and up" brand things...pump handsoap..paper plates..and love alot of their more unusual Archer Farms foods (like tortilla chip flavors, etc) we always have a Target trip at least once a month for those staples. I am finally at a good place now with staples and bulked up on things that I get a little wiggy when we are down to a month supply left of stuff (like dish and laundry supplies)...LOL.

Lucky for us there are Target locations all over the place any direction we go and Sams are close too.



answers from Dallas on

We had both at one time and we prefer Costco. We try to do mostly organic, and Costco seemed to have a better selection (Sam's might have changed, but we haven't been members there for awhile). Their organic blueberries (when in season), strawberries, and carrots are a better price than anywhere else I've found for the amount they sell. They also have organic frozen veggies, and sometimes berries. We buy our toilet paper and paper towels there and if you can get one of their coupons, it's an even better deal. As for diapers and wipes, both my kiddos have sensitive skin, so we are able to use one brand that Costco, of course, doesn't carry, but my SIL gets her kiddos diapers and wipes from there.

Shortened answer, yes, we do save money after the membership.


answers from Houston on

My husband and I have 3 kids as well so with a family of 5...yes, our Sam's membership is worth it. For toilet paper, paper towels, laudry detergent etc... those daily use type of things is where I see the most savings. Usually, I find that yes, I am spending more on an initial trip to the store but that is only because I am buying in bulk which also means less trips to the store for me. With 3 kids in elem. school, we need plenty of snacks and items for school lunches. So again, huge benefit for us.

Never been to Costco but have also heard great things about it...good luck


answers from Dallas on

We have two kids, we had two memberships (Costco and Sam’s). Now, after comparing the range of goods in both stores we decided to stay only with Costco. Costco has much more choices and organic food. We have Gold Membership and every year we received some money back; therefore, now our membership is free because it is paid by the reward money. In short Costco - forever!


answers from Lynchburg on

We have a membership to sam's club...and it is about 45 minutes away. We go once a month or so...and stock up on paper products. I also bake quite a I save on large flours...sugar and yeast. We buy 'nuts' there as well.

We find some savings on shampoo...and other personal products...and maybe take advantage of a meat special if we see one (I have a full size freezer).

We usually make a trip there along with another 'trip' in that direction...maybe if they were closer I would save more?? But the savings on what we DO buy is worth the membership...

Best Luck!



answers from Dallas on

I do think it's worth the money. With 3 kids, there are certain staples we get there. We buy milk and eggs when we're there because it's cheaper. We will sometimes get cereal too if they have a type we particularly like. We always buy TP, paper towels, and frequently get diapers there as well. I also like to stock up on frozen chicken breasts and ground beef- it's so much cheaper to buy in bulk and then I always have meat on hand for whatever I'm cooking that night- (the steaks at Costco are as good as any steak I've had in a high end restaurant, the pork chops are excellent too). I buy certain canned veggies there, and will occasionally get chips, granola bars, dried fruit, etc. Basically, anything you go through quickly or feel like you're buying every week is worth buying in bulk. We do get fruit there, but only certain kinds. We'll easily go through a giant tub of strawberries or grapes, but we don't eat enough apples to justify a bulk purchase for our family. By the way, the fruit at Costco is ALWAYS fresh and lasts FOREVER, so if you can eat the quantity within a week or so, then it's worth the purchase. I would give it a shot, and if you still feel like it's not worth it then you can always let the membership drop again. Oh, and as far as the executive membership goes, I would NOT spring for that. We had friends who raved about how much money they got back every year. We tried it 2 years running and both times barely got enough back to cover our membership fee- we shop costco regularly and in those years we even bought some LARGE purchases that we would not regularly get (storage shed, bedroom furniture, I-pod, TV, etc.). But I do think the regular membership is totally worth it.



answers from Pittsburgh on

Only you know what you buy and how much you use of certain items. If you don't use instant rice than you're not going to be interested in the super size box of Minute Rice at Sam's. Sounds like you may definitely be interested in their diapers and wipes though. The nice thing about Sam's is that they have almost their whole inventory online WITH pricing so you can search your local store to see if they carry your brand of toilet paper, what size package, and whether it is a better deal.

Yes sometimes you can get a better deal on cereals and such at the grocery store using coupons but how often do they put it on sale and do you have enough coupons to stock up inbetween sales?

I believe both warehouses have money back guarantees that if you don't like your membership at anytime they will refund your money.

Sam's will also let you shop with a guest pass. You might pay a 5% surcharge but at least you could go in and buy rather than Costco where all you can do is look.

I used to have both memberships but I rely more heavily on Sam's than Costco so when it came time to renew at full price I dropped Costco. (Yes their 5 cheese take and bake is to die for but 1) it's not worth $50 a year for and 2) I shouldn't be eating that much pizza :-)

Costco is more heavily weighted with prepared foods. It all depends on how you cook and how yoru family eats.

Oh I should also add what awesome deals Sam's has on tires. (Costco sells them too but I've been a Sam's member longer so I've always went there.) That alone could pay for your membership.



answers from Dallas on

I have a costco card and i spend enough and get enough back in rebates to cover the cost of my card plus some. Do you have a friend with a membership that you could go with and then pay cash for your purchases or someone you could split a membership with (I think you get 2 cards with a costco membership and maybe you can buy more cards at Sams??) Then you can evaluate whether what you buy saves you money. It really depends on what you buy--we love the produce and the fruit--it costs less than the grocery store and is of great quality, but if you don't use it or freeze it, than you could waste it.



answers from Dallas on

I love my Costco membership, I feel like the produce is so much cheaper (and better) than what I get day to day at the store. I also buy my chicken and hamburger meat there because it is the same price year round for what I can get it for on sale at the store (most of the times). For diapers though I buy them on Amazon. If you become an Amazon Mom (it's free) you get 30% off diapers, they are tax free and they ship them to your house! Love it!

We too have the executive membership and I always get $$ back. I drive a good ways to get to Costco but it is worth the trip everytime!


answers from Austin on

We compared and Costco had more of the things we personally use and shop for. Also I have NEVER been disappointed with any of their house brands. I love getting my check back from them in the fall too.

Their clothing is great, Their Tampon Prices are great. Our local news station did a story about how inexpensive their prescriptions compared .

I also do a lot of special events so many times when I compare their flower prices to our wholesalers Costco beats them most times on roses and their quality is just as excellent.



answers from New York on

It is not so much as saving money. Grocery stores have big sales not trying to compete. However I would much rather do a mega shopping at
Costco or Sams than running out to the grocery store with three kids.
I have four kids so I loved when Costco came to town! You also have to
know your prices.



answers from Chicago on

I buy my diapers at Target now; used to at Sams, but I think I save a tiny bit at Target - and their diapers are awesome!

I do get my TP, paper towels, Kleenex, cereal and now meat at Sams. The prices on meat are amazing!! I just got an 8 pack of HUGE chicken breast for around $12ish. They were $1.99 a pound. I've also heard that cheese is a great deal there as well, but I haven't bought any yet.

I've never been to Costco because it isn't conveniently located for me. Would prefer though since I HATE Walmart.


answers from Washington DC on

I"m fortunate enough to have both a Sam's Club and a Costco within one mile of my home. I use to have a Costco membership back when they were called Price Club so it's been a LONG time ago and I can't comment on them. Sam's club - I share a membership with my mother even though we live in separate homes. I pay half, she pays halfs and it works out great for both of us. Right there is a 50% discount over the membership price. Back when my youngest was in diapers I would buy them at Sam's and I felt like the savings in diapers alone was worth the membership price I was paying. But like I said I was only paying half the membership price & Sam's is up the street from me.

I guess it really depends on what you are buying. The things that I buy from Sam's are: toilet paper, paper towels, paper plates, chips, meats, produce, frozen fish (salmon, tilapia), frozen chicken tenderloins (raw & unbreaded), frozen shrimp, starbucks coffee beans, water bottles, take and bake pizzas or pizza from their cafe. Sometimes books, DVD's, and clothing items. Sometimes firewoood & lawn supplies. I try and stay away from the processed foods. For us it is worth it because I like to keep the quick cooking foods on stock such as the raw chicken tenderloins, shrimp, fish, etc. and these items are so expensive in the regular grocery stores.

Like someone else mentioned ask to walk through and check it out. Make a list of the item that you would buy on a regular basis. Write down the cost & remember to include the unit prize. After you get your list down take it to where you would normally shop and right down the same time, the cost, and the unit prize. Do the math based on the unit prize to see how much you would be saving as that is the true cost. Figure out how much you would be spending in gas money to get to Sam's each trip. Can you cut back on the number of trips you need to take by stocking up OR share the membership card + the driving with someone else. This way your carpooling together?



answers from Washington DC on

We only have one child, and only joined BJ's (another club) when she was an infant and we got diapers and formula there. It saved money but we ended the membership ASAP when she was done with those items. The big thing for us was lack of storage for the mega-packs they sold when it came to everything like food etc. Why buy what you can't store? For now you might be smart to join but do end the membership when you no longer need their stuff. You may do as well with couponing and membership discounts at grocery chains.



answers from Columbus on

I think the key is to know what the prices are at the grocery store, vs. what the prices are at Sam's/Costco, and only go when it makes sense to go.

We joined Costco, but honestly, I think it's probably not worth us renewing; we only go maybe 3 or 4 times per year, and its a 40 min drive away from everything else we do/everywhere else we go, so lose on gas. If it were closer or we could combine trips with something else, it would be worth it to renew. We did buy our two, really nice, good quality baby gates from Costco, which we could only do as members, and so that probably did save us money.

However, with Costco, you do get coupon books monthly, and with those, I think that if you did buy diapers and other stuff you could save money over and above the cost of the membership fee, with the size of your family and the food/diaper/wipes thing. They have diapers and wipes about every other month on sale, it seems like, plus other stuff, like multi-packs of toothbrushes, canned goods, vitamins, and all kinds of other coupons. Also, according to DH, Costco has really good deals on eyeglasses--you just need to tell your opthamologist that you're getting your prescription filled elsewhere and then get him/her to write it out & take it to Costco.

We do buy bulk food through GFS (Gordon Food Services), and have definitely saved money doing that. Not all the items are less expensive (I never buy produce there; it's cheaper if you get it on sale/in season at the grocery store. They don't have much non-food stuff, besides catering stuff, but they do have generally good prices on many food things.

I am thinking about going with Sam's since there's one much closer (10 min, and right near another area we regularly go). But I have a lot of guilt over it---Sam's is owned and run by the same people as Walmart, and they have a terrible business rep, in terms of how they treat employees (Walmart actively encourages its employees to sign up for government assistance/health care/Medicare, which often they do qualify for, because Wmt doesn't pay a really wage that a person can live off of). In comparison, Costco is a more socially responsible company, and people love working there (seriously, they do); workers earn real living wages and they have good benefits for their employees.



answers from Louisville on

We compared Sam's to Costco years ago (about ten), and at the time, it seemed like Sam's stocked more of the things we use on a regular basis. We have kept the membership since then, and I know that we save a ton on groceries buying in bulk. We have four children, and we go through eggs, meat, bread, fruit, and veggies like no one's business. If I paid regular grocery store prices every time, we'd be broke or starving. It's definitely not ideal for everyone, but for us it works. As far as the Sam's vs. Costco, I know people who are fiercely loyal to both and insist it is the better bargain. I suspect it's a matter of what you're looking for and which store suits your needs. I'd recommend checking both thoroughly, making a list while you go through of things that you buy regularly and their prices. It probably wouldn't hurt to compare those prices to your regular store. It would help you gauge what you'd spend/save at each.



answers from Portland on

We let our membership lapse again to Costco, haven't been a member of Sam's in years. I do not feel it is a money saver for us. I don't used most of their brands and the things I do like I don't want in a container as big as it is offered in. I do not like that I have to carry my items out in a box, I prefer having bags to transport from car to house, it makes my life easier. Using club cards from other stores and an occasional coupon gets me the savings I am ok with. I am a brand loyal person on quite a few things and will pay extra for those. Do some research, shop your normal way for a month keeping receipts for gas and groceries and then go with someone else who is a member and shop and compare, taking in to account the gas and time it took to drive with whichever club you went to. Do you have a Cash and Carry? That store can have good deals and does bulk as well with no membership fee.



answers from Toledo on

I don't have a membership, but there's only 4 of us in our family. For us, there wasn't really any savings.

I would think with 2 in diapers, it might be worth if for the diapers and wipes alone! LOL! As far as food, just remember you have to have a place to store all of it. They have great deals on frozen foods, but if you don't have a deep freeze (or two) then it's not worth it. Same with the toilet paper.

I think it would be best to track your spending for a month. Write down exactly what you buy and how much it costs. Then figure out how much you would pay for those same items at a warehouse store, and don't forget to factor in your membership, gas and convenience. If the bigger stores are out of your way, chances are you're still going to stop at the local store for thing you need. That would give you a better idea of how much you'd really be saving.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions