When you think of warehouse club chains, three names come to mind: Costco, BJ’s, and Sam’s Club. Which of these giants is the best of the bunch? Here’s an overview of the three businesses:
Costco– Based on total sales volume, Costco is the largest warehouse club chain in America, and it is the ninth largest retailer in the world. There are over 422 locations in the U.S., and more than 100 locations in other countries around the globe, such as Japan, the U.K., and even Australia. Most locations offer a “food court,” which also offers cheap prices, such as a quarter-pound hot dog and 20 oz. drink for just $1.50, the same price since 1985. An individual annual membership fee is $50.
BJ’s– BJ’s only operates in the East Coast states and in Ohio, so this business is not an option for everyone. It is the only warehouse club of the three to accept manufacturer’s coupons, which can give the prices at BJ’s a bit of an edge, though it all depends on what you’re buying. In case you were wondering, the B and J in the store name stands for Beverly Jean, a founder’s daughter. Membership at BJ’s also costs $50.
Sam’s– Sam’s Club is owned and operated by Wal-Mart. It ranks second to Costco in sales volume, though it has a greater number of locations (over 600 in the U.S. and a few locations in Brazil, China, and Mexico). A membership costs $40, slightly less than at the other two.
Some people say that Costco gives out better samples. Some say that they won’t become a member at Sam’s Club, because of its Wal-Mart ties. Meanwhile, others are a member at all three. Ultimately, these stores are quite similar. All three offer “rewards cash” if an additional annual fee is paid. If you are looking into a membership at one of these businesses, you might as well pick the one that’s closest to home. If the options are equidistant, it might be worthwhile visiting both stores to compare prices on items you are most likely to buy. It is also possible that one store offers an item that the other doesn’t offer; in-store selection varies in all three based on store location. Unfortunately, there simply isn’t a clear-cut winner among the three.