If you’re someone who’s eager to save money on groceries and household supplies, then it could pay to get a membership to a warehouse club like Costco or Sam’s Club. The ability to purchase groceries and essentials in bulk could result in smaller bills. That’s important given how inflation is still a lingering problem.
Now, you may be torn between Costco and Sam’s Club, to the point where you’re thinking of signing up for both. But does that make sense?
It’s true that Costco’s inventory can vary from that of Sam’s Club. So if you get a membership to both stores, you might find different products at each store.
But for the most part, a single warehouse club membership should suffice for the typical consumer or family. After all, Costco may have a few different brands of toilet paper and dairy products than Sam’s Club. But do you really need so many varieties of toilet paper and milk? Probably not.
Also, don’t forget that there’s a cost of joining Costco and Sam’s Club. For the former, a basic membership costs $60 a year while an Executive membership costs $120. At Sam’s Club, a basic membership costs $50 a year while a Plus membership is $110. Both the Executive and Plus memberships give you cash back on your purchases, so the extra cost to join can be worth it when you spend enough.
To be fair, Sam’s Club commonly runs promotions that allow you to save some money on your first year of membership. But let’s say you’re not eligible for such a deal. This means you’re looking at spending $110 a year for a basic Costco and Sam’s Club membership when you could instead be spending around half that much. Or, that $110 could buy you an upgraded membership at Sam’s Club, or almost a full Executive membership at Costco, for the benefit of cash back on the things you buy.
It’s true that you might find certain items at Costco that you don’t find at Sam’s Club, or vice versa. But before you shell out the money for two memberships at the same time, think about your schedule. How often do you really have time to go grocery shopping? If you only have an hour or two each week, then a visit to both Sam’s Club and Costco may not be feasible — especially if those two stores aren’t near each other.
In fact, let’s say you join both warehouse clubs but only manage to visit each once a month. Will you potentially make back your membership fees? Maybe. All it takes to make back your $60 outlay for a Costco basic membership is $5 in monthly savings.
But that’s not the point. The point is that if you join both clubs at the same time, even if you make back your fees, it probably wasn’t necessary to bear both annual fees in the first place.
If you’re currently a member of Costco or Sam’s Club and are wondering what the other is like, ask a friend who’s a member to let you tag along for a shopping session. If you find that you like the other option better, make a change. But chances are, if you have memberships to both Costco and Sam’s Club at the same time, you’re going to end up throwing some of your money away.
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The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.Maurie Backman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Costco Wholesale. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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