Sam's Club Versus Costco: Superfans Compare the Warehouse Giants

Sam's Club v. Costco

Sam's Club v. Costco by Dwight Burdette & Koffermejia (CC BY-SA)

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Sam's Club v. Costco
Sam's Club v. Costco by Dwight Burdette & Koffermejia (CC BY-SA)

Warehouse Showdown

Costco and Sam’s Club both have huge warehouse stores, affordable food courts, and their own in-house brands — and yet some die-hard loyalists swear by just one. But what about shoppers who’ve been to both? A Redditor recently asked Costco superfans to compare the two stores, and despite Costco’s home-field advantage, they were able to come up with a list of benefits for both stores. Here are the biggest pros of shopping at Costco and Sam’s Club.(Not a member? You can apply here for Costco and here for Sam's Club.)

close up of asian young businesswoman is shopping for meat and scanning barcode

Sam’s Club: Scan and Go

Many Costco superfans agreed that Sam’s app was useful, especially thanks to its scan and go feature. Instead of checking out at the cash register, members can scan barcodes and pay in the app, meaning that you can skip long lines at the register. Other app advantages include the ability to see in-store pricing and item availability. 

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

Loading a Costco Sample
Panegyrics of Granovetter / Flickr

Costco: Liveable Wages

Multiple Redditors criticized Sam’s for its working conditions and low wages. While Sam’s Club wages have trailed competitors in the past, the Walmart-owned company raised its minimum wage from $11 to $15 an hour in 2021 — still a dollar less than Costco’s $16 minimum. Walmart, Sam’s parent company, has also come under fire for its working conditions. “It’s worth spending a couple of extra dollars to support livable wages,” one Costco superfan wrote.

Related: Big-Name Companies Paying at Least $15 an Hour

A Pretzel At Sam's Club Cafe, on a Brown Pretzel Serving Bag

Sam’s Club: Soft Pretzels

While Costco nixed its soft pretzels (big mistake!), you can still enjoy them at Sam’s food courts around the country. Given that multiple Costco superfans say they’re a Sam’s Club highlight, Costco may want to reconsider its decision.

Related: Food Court Showdown: Costco vs. Sam's Club

Salty snacks

Sam’s Club: Snacks

Snack connoisseurs should know that Sam’s has a better selection when it comes to munchies, Redditors say. So if you need a giant bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, you know where to go.

Black woman paying with credit card

Sam’s Club: Prices

While not everyone agreed, multiple superfans said that Sam’s was cheaper than Costco. According to Investopedia, shoppers spend more overall at Sam’s Club because they’re buying more of a product, though the per unit price remains cheaper than Costco. In other words, you’ll save money at Sam’s if you manage to buy in bulk and use the products before they spoil.

Paper Towels and Toilet Paper
S C./Yelp

Sam’s Club: Toilet Paper

Costco superfans ragged on the store’s toilet paper. “The only thing we like better at Sam’s is the toilet paper,” one Redditor wrote, adding that Member’s Mark outperformed Kirkland toilet paper.

Man smiles while picking up curbside order
SDI Productions/istockphoto

Sam’s Club: Free Pickup

Sam’s Club Plus members enjoy free curbside pickup at all stores, making contactless shopping easy at the Walmart-owned retailer. While Costco has tested curbside pickup in the past, the wholesaler has resisted widespread implementation across its stores and products.

Costco by Anderson Depp (CC BY-NC)

Costco: Overall Quality

Costco superfans repeatedly noted that the wholesaler’s products were higher quality. One Redditor called Sam’s meat “wanting” compared to Costco’s “top-notch” selection. This was a common theme throughout the thread. Although Costco superfans were willing to praise Sam’s for a few things it does well, the consensus was that Costco is the better overall store.