16 Unbeatable Back-to-School Finds at Costco and Sam's Club

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CHALK UP SOME SAVINGS

Don't forget the warehouse clubs when you're tackling that back-to-school list: Costco and Sam's Club carry a lot more school supplies than you might expect, and membership can really pay off. The prices are often lower than Amazon, Walmart, Target, Staples and other major retailers -- especially if you're shopping for more than one child and can divvy up that bulk pack of pencils. Here are 16 deals that recently caught our eye at Costco and Sam's. Note: Prices are subject to change especially as school draws closer.
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BACKPACKS

Costco has stocked up on High Sierra Rip Rap backpacks in many different colors, now selling for $15.99 in-store and online. Light gray, dark gray, black, blue, and teal are available on Costco's website. The same backpack on Amazon costs $34.95 and up depending on the color.
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PENCILS

Students always need pencils, and Costco has them in-store for cheap. Compare 96 Dixon Ticonderoga No. 2 pencils for just $9.49 to 24 of those same pencils at Walmart for $4.47 -- that's 9.9 cents a pencil at Costco, and 18.6 cents at Walmart. Prefer mechanicals? Costco has a six-pack of Pentel Twist-Erase Clicks in-store for $6.99; the same set is over $10 on Amazon.
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PENS

For those who need a more permanent way to leave their mark, pens are also a solid buy at Costco. A 20-pack of Pilot G2 Gel Pens goes for $12.99 in-store. For an even better deal, 40 Zebra Retractable Ballpoint Pens are going for $6.99. On Amazon, 20 of the same pens cost $8.49.
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TISSUES

The new school year often brings on the sniffles, so tissues should be on every back-to-school shopping list. Sam's Club has a dozen 164-count boxes of Member's Mark tissues for $11.98 in-store and online. Costco's deal isn't quite as compelling: It sells a dozen 90-count Kirkland Signature tissue boxes in-store for $12.99. If you prefer name brand, a 10-pack of 230-count Kleenex is just $14.59 at Costco.
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ANTI-BACTERIAL WIPES

A common request on younger kids' school-supply lists, anti-bacterial wipes help ward off all of those aforementioned colds. At Sam's, you can snag a four pack of Member's Mark disinfecting wipes (312 wipes total) for $8.98 in-store or online -- that's 2.8 cents a wipe. Costco is a bit pricier at $10.99 for four packs of Kirkland wipes (304 total), or 3.6 cents a wipe. Both are a good deal compared to Amazon. There, you'll pay $12.99 for 320 Lysol disinfecting wipes, or 4.1 cents a wipe.
Photo credit: Courtesy of walmart.com

SANDWICH BAGS

Sandwich bags are a lunch-packing essential. Costco and Sam's want $9.89 and $9.88, respectively, for 500 Ziploc sandwich bags -- that's about 2 cents each. The same bags are $4.46 for 152, or 2.9 cents, at Walmart, and are much pricier at Amazon and Target.
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HOODED JACKETS

With chilly fall weather on the way, a fleece-lined hoodie featuring Paw Patrol, Darth Vader, Minnie Mouse, Frozen, and more character favorites is only $9.99 in-store and online at Costco. Sizes range from 3T to 7. Looking for something more classic? Sam's has Eddie Bauer fleece jackets in boys' sizes 4 to 16 for $12.98 online -- the same jacket is $17 to $18 in most sizes on Amazon.
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JEANS

Costco often carries popular kids' (and adult) clothing brands far below the cost at other retailers. During the back-to-school rush, Costco has boys' and girls' Levi's jeans in various styles and washes for $14.99 each in-store -- elsewhere, they range from $16 to $25. In addition, Lee jeans for boys are just $9.99 online. Prices may vary by store. The cheapest kids' jeans at Old Navy, in comparison, are $12 on sale.
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NOTEBOOKS

Got paper? Costco has an eight-pack of 100-sheet Top Flight composition books for $6.99 in-store, or 87 cents a notebook. The best deal at Sam's Club is $1.98 each for Mead Composition books online, but take note: Walmart.com has the same ones for $1.48 each. Keep an eye on Staples, though: They've had their own brand of composition books for as low as 50 cents in recent deals.
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BINDERS

Two more good in-store Costco deals: Two Mead Five Star Flex Hybrid 1-inch NoteBinders for $9.99 -- compare that with lowest competitor Walmart, which wants $7.86 for one. Costco also has Five Star 2-inch Zipper Binders for $10.99; they cost $16.23 on Amazon. Need round-ring view binders? Costco has a six-pack of 1-inch Tops brand for $8.99 in-store, or about $1.50 a binder. Sam's Club has an eight-pack of the Samsill brand for $11.98 in-store (out of stock online), also about $1.50 a binder. The next cheapest option, Office Impressions, is $1.55 at Walmart.
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LUNCH BOXES

Costco has a pretty nice deal on lunch boxes in-store and online: $9.99 for a California Innovations expandable lunch box, which comes with two ice packs and compatible plastic food containers. At Sam's Club, the similar Arctic Zone Pro High-Performance Dual Compartment lunch boxes are $14.98 in-store (but out of stock online).
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PRINTER PAPER

Paper for all those reports and essays runs $28.98 for 5,000 sheets (about $2.90 a ream, or 500 sheets) at Sam's Club online and in-store for its Member's Mark brand. That bests Staples, where 4,000 sheets of house-brand paper was recently $24.99, or $3.12 a ream. Staples' deal is also for a limited time -- the regular price is much higher at $49.
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SNACK FOODS

Costco abounds with good buys on lunch-box and snack-time staples: A 54-count box of Rice Krispie Treats is $10.99, or 20 cents each. Walmart wants $8.98 for a 40-count box, or 22.5 cents each. A 54-count variety pack of 1-ounce Frito Lay bagged chips is $12.89 at Costco, while a 50-count pack is $18.98 at Walmart.

Sam's also has some good deals, like $9.88 for a 90-count box of Mott's Medleys fruit snacks and $8.88 for a 60-count box of Quaker Chewy granola bars. The fruit snacks are $5.88 for only 40 pouches at Walmart; granola bars are $4.98 for 24.

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WATER BOTTLES

A spill-proof water bottle is a backpack essential. Costco sells a trio of 14-ounce BPA-free Contigo Kids water bottles with straws in a variety of colors in-store for $11.99. Amazon sells the same trio of bottles for $31.99, and Target has them individually for $9.99 each.
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DESK ESSENTIALS

A three-pack of well-reviewed 3M Scotch Precision Ultra Edge 8-inch Scissors is $9.99 in-store at Costco; the same three-pack is on Amazon for $16.55. Costco also has a Swingline 747 Desk Stapler and Staple Remover for $8.99, while the same stapler starts at $10.64 on Amazon, without a stapler remover.
Photo credit: Courtesy of samsclub.com

PRINTERS

A cheap, compact printer is handy to have for college kids who need to print their latest term paper at the last minute. Sam's Club has the wireless Epson Expression Home XP-434 online for just $39.88 online after a $15 tech savings discount. The next best price is $48.63 at Jet.com. Costco's best deal is on the HP Office Jet 4655 printer, scanner, copier, and fax machine. It's $75 in-store and online, also after limited-time $15 instant savings.