People tend to join Costco or Sam's Club to save money on bulk sizes of products they would be buying anyway. But many warehouse club shoppers repeatedly find themselves splurging on something out of the ordinary — even on their first visit to the store — maybe justifying the purchase by telling themselves it's a deal. Costco, in particular, is known for its "treasure hunt" strategy of tempting customers with a constant rotation of nonessential items around every corner. Still, many of those purchases could be considered worthy, given warehouse club savings. Here are 15 deals that are exclusive to Costco and Sam's Club members.
Most people head to Costco thinking more about bulk garbage bags than high fashion, but a recent visit turned up Tommy Hilfiger men's stretch-cotton button-down dress shirts for $15 and Calvin Klein women's knit tops for $15 and denim shorts for $18. Just in time for wet autumn weather, Hunter boots are selling for $90 online. The famous rubber Wellingtons are normally around $155.
Sports gaming enthusiasts can pick up "NBA 2K19 20th Anniversary Edition" for Nintendo Switch for $90 at Costco, which is $10 less than at Amazon. "Madden 19 Hall of Fame Edition" for PlayStation 4 costs $70, also $10 less than at Amazon.
Wine is often a good deal at Costco and Sam's Club. Some high-end wines are distributed under warehouse club labels for much lower prices when a vintner has a surplus — and why should a wine lover pass up a great find when it presents itself? The flow of fine wines at Costco has been written up in such places as The Wall Street Journal and Money magazine, and there's an independent blog devoted to the amazing stuff that pops up. CostcoWineBlog.com featured a 90-point 2015 Firesteed pinot noir from Oregon's Willamette Valley, an "insane value" at $10.50, instead $17 at wine merchants.
High-end movie theaters have comfortable, reclining chairs with trays to hold fancy snacks and drinks -- why shouldn't a home media room have the same feel? Sam's Club sells the Abbyson Living Larson leather power recliner with built-in cup holders, tuck-away tray tables, and storage areas for $400. A similar model discounted on Wayfair costs $200 more.
A vacation is a luxury, no doubt about it, but feel better about the expense when booking through Costco. The warehouse store is known for its travel benefits, from all-inclusive resorts and vacation packages to cruises and theme park tickets. For example, taking a week off in the Dominican Republic at an all-inclusive Punta Cana resort costs only about $2,600 for two adults in October, airfare included, depending on where you live. Booking travel through a warehouse club can also bring perks on rental cars and stays at partner hotels.
Most warehouse club customers probably aren't shopping to outfit the kids, but many head home with frilly dresses, extra swimsuits, or pajama sets once they see what's available. It's hard not to load up at Sam's Club on Arrow boy's polo shirts for $8, Levi's 505 jeans for $13, and Carter's baby sets for $10. A Free Country girls' softshell jacket, which gets very positive consumer reviews, is just $17, while a boy's hooded Oshkosh varsity jacket is $25.
A pool table sure would look good in the den or the basement, wouldn't it? At Sam's Club, billiards tables go for as little as $450. The 7.5-foot Barrington Billiards table with ball and claw legs has a traditional design and comes with two cue sticks, a full set of balls, a triangle rack, two chalks, and a brush. The price is $150 higher on Amazon.
Warehouse club prices on electronics are usually little better than online and big-box competitors, but occasionally you can find in-store specials that are bargains. During a recent visit to Costco, we found a Vizio 65-inch 4K HDR television on sale for $1500, a savings of $200 over the same model sold at Best Buy.
Warehouse clubs stock crab, lobster, and beef tenderloin, as well as other cuts and chops, at prices that rival grocery chains like HEB and Trader Joe's. A 2-pound bag of frozen, wild-caught Gulf shrimp costs about $22 at Sam's Club, while a pound of king crab clusters is $29 a pound at Costco. Looking to feed a crowd? You can find a 6.5-pound package of Kirkland Signature 88 percent lean ground beef for $25, or a case of seven New Zealand legs of lamb for about $188, depending on final weight, at Sam's Club.
a new car
Hundreds of thousands of cars are sold every year through the Costco Auto Program with pre-negotiated prices on new and used cars. Many are the usual Fords, Hyundais, or even Audis found at 3,000 participating dealers, but members can shop for everything from RVs and motorcycles to ATVs, snowmobiles, and golf carts. For drivers with $150,000 to spend, a 2018 Maserati convertible is available, too. Sam's Club's Auto Buying Program offers similar deals for its members.
Costco and Sam's Club both sell jewelry, including fine watches by brands such as Bulova, Citizen, Shinola, and Versace. You can buy the Citizen Brycen Eco-Drive men's watch with a black leather strap for $240 at Costco, a significant savings over Jet.com, which sells the same watch for $334.
A spa is a true indulgence that turns any backyard into a mini resort. On Costco's website, members can buy an Aquaterra Spas Fairfax 80-jet hot tub, which seats up to seven people, for $5,000. That price includes shipping. Home Depot sells the similar Aualife Eminence 80-jet hot tub, which also seats up to seven, for $6,100. You can save even more at Sam's Club, which sells the seven-person Lifesmart LS600DX spa for just $4,000. It has only 65 jets, but it seats seven like the other two spas and shipping is included.
Sturgeon eggs — more eloquently known as caviar — is an Eastern European delicacy, and it has a price to match. Most sturgeon sold in the U.S. is farm-raised in Bulgaria, and a 2-ounce tin can cost $250 at a specialty vendor. At Costco, you can buy three 2-ounce tins of Plaza Osetra Bulgarian sturgeon caviar for the same price. Sam's Club doesn't sell caviar, although they have in the past.
contact lenses and glasses
If you wear disposable contact lenses, you can find the name brands at both Costco and Sam's Club. But Costco also sells daily disposable lenses under its Kirkland Signature brand. A 180-pack costs $118, which is far cheaper than two 90-lens packs of most name-brand daily disposable lenses. Costco Optical also gets the thumbs-up from Consumer Reports, which enthusiastically endorsed them in their evaluation of eyewear stores, including Walmart.
You can save while you splurge by using your store-branded credit card when you shop. Both Costco and Sam's Club offer no-fee credit cards to their members that come with 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.