12 Costco or Sam's Purchases That Make Back the Membership Fee
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Costco or Sam's Club Purchases That Make Back the Membership Fee

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12 Costco or Sam's Purchases That Make Back the Membership Fee
Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images North America

Return on Investment

Shopping at warehouse club stores comes at a price: Costco's membership starts at $60, and a basic Sam's Club membership costs $45. But there are plenty of ways to make back the fee while enjoying the perks of membership — and one of the easiest ways doesn't even require you to set foot inside the warehouse. (Not a member? You can apply here for Costco and here for Sam's Club.)


Prices and availability are subject to change.


Related: Costco by the Numbers — 22 Surprising Stats

Pick Up Groceries When You Fuel
slobo/istockphoto

Gas

We're all desperate for ways to save money on gas these days, and it turns out your warehouse-club membership may hold the key. Gas prices at Costco and Sam's are up to 30 cents lower per gallon than traditional gas stations, experts tell CNN. At that rate, a car with a 15-gallon tank would save nearly $4 per fill-up — so by filling up once a week for just four months, you'd make back the price of a Costco membership without even going inside. Of course, the savings vary by location — never assume you're paying bottom dollar at a warehouse club. Double-check price comparison apps and consider gas bonus programs from grocery chains such as Kroger.


Related: 11 Ways Costco Can Save You Money on Your Car

Pizza
Spencer Y./Yelp

Pizza

It takes less than one pizza a month for the savings to make up the cost of a warehouse club membership. At Domino's, a 16-inch Brooklyn-style pizza costs $12 to $18, depending on location and toppings. The same size pizza costs $9 at Sam's Club and $10 at Costco. With average savings of more than $5 a pizza, buying eight to 11 pizzas a year would cover the membership cost.


Related: How Non-Members Can Shop at Costco

Canvas Prints
Costco

Photo Gifts

Large photos come with large savings. A 16-by-20-inch canvas photo print at Sam's Club — not including sale prices or discounts — costs less than $40, while the non-sale price listed at photo site Shutterfly is $60. Costco's canvas prints of the same size are $38, or $22 cheaper than Shutterfly's. Buying just one print would cover the cost of a membership to either club. Both Costco and Sam's Club also carry personalized mugs, mouse pads, and other photo gifts. Depending on the items, the savings from six to 10 gifts would recoup the membership fee.


Related: 12 Reasons Why Shoppers Are Addicted to Costco

Movie Tickets
Sam's Club

Movie Tickets

Costco and Sam's Club sell bundles of movie ticket gift cards. Costco offers a $50 Cinemark movie etickets for $40. If you were to buy tickets from the theater the cost for an adult ticket would be $15 — meaning Costco gives you three tickets and change for the price of two tickets and change. Take the family to see five movies this year through Costco and make back your membership cost in the savings. Sam's Club has a range of deals, including two Cinemark admissions for $19, an $11 savings. Buying five sets will more than make back the membership cost.


Related: 16 Ways to Save Money at the Movies

Costco Tire Center
rvolkan/istockphoto

Tire Care

Buying tires at Costco or Sam's Club can cover the membership fee in savings from tire installation and routine care. The two warehouse clubs ranked first and second in a Cheapism analysis of the best places for tire installation, ahead of BJ’s, Walmart, and three other chains. Both offer mounting and balancing — for $19 a tire at Costco and $20 per tire at Sam's Club. Upkeep for the life of the tire is free, including balancing, rotation, and certain repairs.


Related: Is Costco the Best Place to Buy a Car?

Restaurant Gift Cards
Sam's Club

Restaurant Gift Cards

Costco sells sets of $100 in restaurant gift cards for $80. The selection varies by location, but some of the cards available online include Macroni Grill, California Pizza Kitchen, and Krispy Kreme. Shoppers who buy three sets make back their membership fee. At Sam's Club, some of the gift card bundles are the same price as the worth of the cards, or just a few dollars less. But the store does offer some deals that include $10 to $25 in savings, including gift cards for Carrabba's and Golden Corral.


Related: Amazing Gift Card Deals From Costco and Sam’s Club

Photo Cards and Announcements
Costco

Photo Cards and Announcements

Savings on holiday cards, save-the-dates, and other photo cards easily match warehouse club membership costs. At Walgreens, an order of 60 flat cards on photo paper can cost well over $150, while even with a 30% off promotion, an order of 50 photo cards from Shutterfly runs about $50. At Sam's Club, 50 cards cost around $32. Costco sells sets of 50 for as little as $16. The savings from two orders of 50 or 60 cards would make back the membership fees.


Related: The Strangest Things You Can Buy at Costco

Bulk Flowers
Costco

Bulk Flowers

Buying blooms in bulk for a big event can cover the cost of membership in one purchase. At Sam's Club, a bulk order of 150 of its 50-cm roses costs around $130. And, at Costco, 150 roses (sold as orders of 50) would cost $150. The same size orders from online retailer Blooms by the Box cost $331, for "economy" blooms – much more than enough to account for both membership fees.


Related: 10 Ways to Save Money on a Wedding With Costco, Sam's, or BJ's

Electronics
Costco
Cedar Summit by KidKraft Adventure Ridge Playset - Do It Yourself
Costco
Tempur-Flex Prima Supreme Queen Set
Costco
Costco Membership
Costco

Upgraded Membership

Costco's upgraded Executive Membership is $120, but shoppers earn 2% of their (qualified) spending in rewards. It takes about $500 a month to make back the membership fee. Shoppers with the $100 Sam's Plus membership get $10 in cash rewards for every $500 they spend. With cash rewards alone, it takes about $415 a month to recoup the membership fee. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average family spends about $335 a month on "food in the home." That doesn't count clothes, furniture, electronics, and other items shoppers might buy at warehouse clubs, so crossing either threshold is reasonable.