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Don't Miss These 20 Perks of Costco and Sam's Club Membership

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TECHNICAL SUPPORT

Members who have questions about setting up or using a TV, home theater, digital music player, camera, or computer purchased at a warehouse club can rely on free tech support by phone. It's available 24/7 at Sam's Club (including holidays) and from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. PST daily (excluding holidays) at Costco.

High Blood Pressure
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HEALTH SCREENINGS

Sam's Club offers free health tests at its pharmacies. Blood glucose screenings are free for members any day of the week, and cholesterol tests are $19. More comprehensive health screenings, which include body-fat analysis, blood pressure, cholesterol, hearing, and vision testing, are available on the second Saturdays in January, April, July and October.

Tire Rotation
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TIRE SERVICES

Both wholesale clubs rotate, balance, and repair tires at no charge. At Sam's Club, the free flat repair applies even for tires bought elsewhere, and wiper-blade installation and car battery testing is also free.

Related: Best Price for Tire Installation: 7 Chains Face Off

Cholesterol Medication
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CHEAP PRESCRIPTIONS

Costco has long enjoyed a reputation for low prescription drug prices. An April 2018 report by Consumer Reports confirmed that Costco still has the lowest prices on a handful of common drugs, although online pharmacy Health Warehouse undercut the retailer by about a third. In the same comparison, Sam's Club prices were even higher, though members at both clubs still pay hundreds less than they would at Walgreens or CVS. People who hold a premium Sam's Club membership also can get five common generic drugs are free (in most states), plus 600 others for $10 or less.

Paid Vacation
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TRAVEL DEALS

When booking your next trip, remember to ask if there's a reduced rate for Sam's Club or Costco members (just as you might ask about an AAA or AARP discount). Both clubs have online travel portals and booking-by-phone for vacation packages, car rental, hotels, cruises, and more. Deals are posted on both clubs' websites, too.

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SATISFACTION GUARANTEES

Costco and Sam's Club both promise to refund the membership fee for customers who are not satisfied. They set no time limit for returns of most merchandise, with the exception of electronics. Sam's Club's Freshness Guarantee allows for a full refund plus replacement of fresh produce, meat, and baked goods, or double your money back.

HearUSA
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HEARING TESTS

Both wholesale clubs offer select hearing aid services. Members can make appointments for complimentary hearing tests and free hearing aid checkups. Costco includes hearing aid cleaning and loss/damage purchase protection for free. Sam's Club also offers free screenings, plus hearing-aid adjustments and cleanings.

Health Insurance
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DISCOUNTED INSURANCE

Sam's Club and Costco provide insurance services through third parties, which have exclusive rates for wholesale club members. Sam's Club sells health insurance for individuals and businesses, and Costco offers health, dental, and vision plans to individuals and small groups, plus auto, home, life, and identity-theft insurance.

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AUTHOR SIGNINGS

Costco and Sam's Club stores often feature appearances by local authors, and some high-profile writers include the wholesale clubs on their book tours. People have lined up to meet Hillary Clinton at Sam's Club, and cookbook author Danielle Walker ("Against All Grain") has done book signings at Costco. Even Cheapism's own Deputy Editor Danny Jensen has done book signings at Costco for his recent book, "100 Things To Do In Los Angeles Before You Die."

Write a Check
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CHECK PRINTING

Costco and Sam's Club members can order checks at prices that often undercut the bank. At both stores this includes personal checks and payroll checks for businesses, plus a handful of other options such as tax forms and envelopes.

Free Samples
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FREE SAMPLES

No discussion of member perks would be complete without mentioning the free samples. The option to try before you buy is all but compulsory, given that most food items at warehouse clubs are available only in bulk sizes. Sampling the goods is also a way to discover new products (which, of course, is the store's goal).

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FOOD COURT

If the free samples aren't enough, the food court at Costco is a legendary deal. The $1.50 price tag for a hot dog and soda hasn't changed in more than 30 years. Many members take advantage of a cheap (if not low-calorie) meal after they shop.

Rotisserie Chickens Are $5
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PREPARED FOODS

For a big event, there's no arguing the value of Costco's sheet cakes, at $17.99 for 48 pieces. Costco and Sam's Club also offer other prepared foods, including take-and-bake pizzas, large sub sandwiches, premade salads, and more. Costco famously sells rotisserie chicken for only $5.

Printer Ink
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PRINTER INK REFILLS

Costco offers an inkjet-refill service to its members. Refill prices vary by printer but start around $7. That's about the same price as online retailers like 4inkjets or slightly more. But it's definitely less than buying name-brand replacement printer ink, and unlike online vendors you don't have to wait for your shipment to arrive.

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NEW CARS

Both Sam's Club and Costco offer car-buying services to their members, allowing them to browse from most every make and model imaginable. Prices don't appear to be significantly cheaper than using other online auto-sales sites, but occasionally you can find some deals. If you're in the market for a BMW, for example, showing your Costco membership card can result in an extra $500 or $1000 off the price. Sam's Club members can get similar members-only discounts on Jeeps.

Go Gift Card Shopping
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DISCOUNTED GIFT CARDS

Sam's Club members can buy gift cards for popular stores and restaurants at a 20 percent discount off the face value. For example, a bundle of two $25 Steak 'n Shake gift cards costs just under $40, while a gift card two movie tickets to any Cinemark theater costs just under $17. Costco members enjoy a similar discount on gift cards and also offers discount certificates and tickets for amusement parks, sporting events, and other attractions. Baseball fans in Los Angeles can buy a $65 voucher good for two Terrace or Club All-Star seats, a savings of nearly 50 percent.

Walmart Turned to New Tech for Delivery
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IN-STORE PICKUP AND GROCERY DELIVERY

Unlike Costco, Sam's Club lets members order anything online and pick it up at their local store, provided it's in stock. However, both retailers offer local grocery delivery services. Surprisingly, when we tested this service in Austin, Texas, Instacart was the delivery prodiver both Sam's and Costco used.

Use a Credit Card That Offers Price Protection
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CREDIT CARDS

Members of both stores can apply for branded cash-back rewards that are more generous than some bank cards. Costco's Anywhere Visa gives members 4 percent back on gasoline, 3 percent on food and travel, 2 percent on Costco purchases, and 1 percent back on all other purchases. The Sam's Club Mastercard gives you 5 percent back on gasoline and 3 percent on food and travel, but only 1 percent on other purchases, including at Sam's and Walmart.

Don't File Payroll Reports
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PROFESSIONAL SUPPORT SERVICES

Both retailers offer discount services for their business club members, including payroll management, small-business loans, employee health insurance, even custom product logo printing. Neither Sam's Club nor Costco provide these services themselves, however; they're all affiliated third parties, such as Elavon and First Data. Both retailers also offer business credit cards to members, much like they do to individuals.

Glasses and Contacts
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OTHER MEMBERSHIP PERKS

As if that's not enough, you can enjoy other perks with your membership at Sam's Club or Costco. In addition to health screenings and hearing aids, you'll find optical departments selling frames and lenses and offering vision tests at both retailers. And both also offer immunization and vaccination services that are either free with insurance or for less than you'll find at Walgreens or CVS, including flu shots, hepatitis, and human palimplova virus (HPV) vaccinations. And if you get the urge to send a really, really big care package overseas, both companies offer special exporting services for bulk purchases (we're talking $10,000 or more in merchandise, at least in Costco's case).