6 Major Differences Between Costco and Sam’s Club Right Now – Eat This Not That

Maybe you recently heard the news that Costco is bringing a location to your state or that Sam’s Club membership just got better. Belonging to a members-only grocery club can help you find new favorites to love, stock up against shortages, and save money in times of rising prices. There’s a lot of hype surrounding these two, as well as a heated debate as to which is the better choice.

If you’re not already a die-hard fan of either, you might be trying to figure out which warehouse is right for you. Since it all comes down to personal preference, we’ve outlined the top six differences between Costco and Sam’s Club so far this year, so you can decide where your loyalty lies for all your bulk buying needs.

RELATED: 6 Things You’ll See At Costco This Year


When you walk into a curated store experience, you expect some of the selection and choice to be done for you already. Although Costco and Sam’s Club have some product overlap, their selection of items is quite different from each other.

Costco members say Kirkland’s approach prioritizes quality over quantity, as one 20somethingfinance.com blogger said, “Costco’s choice to limit (and even shrink) its SKUs has allowed them to focus more on the quality of the article”. This usually includes healthier offerings – more organic, non-GMO, and less processed options.

On the other hand, Sam’s Club carries more branded items, and they tend to be less expensive. Reviewers agree that Sam’s Club has a wider selection of snacks than Costco, with a few inventive twists in the mix – Nilla banana pudding with chunks of nut butter, Southern Comfort eggnog and corn soufflé Cinnamon Toast Crunch, to name a few, according to SFGATE.com.

The pros and cons of each store’s product assortment can meet your needs at opposite ends of the spectrum. If you’re lucky enough to join Costco and Sam’s Club, you can have the best of both worlds.

costco food court

Ah, the food court, where you can relax after a tough grocery run for some refreshments for less than $5. Costco goers are always keeping an eye out for the latest food court options, while Sam’s Clubbers have their eyes on the next secret menu item.

While they both have terrific menus with similar items like pizza slices, hot dogs, and berry sundaes, Sam’s Club seems to have the top fountain drink rotation. Reddit users were thrilled to see several sugar-free sodas, from iced tea to root beer to Pepsi. A fan favorite is the Berry Lime Mountain Dew, which is exclusive to the store. Commenter u/DragonMom81 said, “The Mountain Dew (zero sugar!) is my favorite thing. If they decided to sell it outside of the food court, they’d have all my money (and I don’t drink that a lot of pop).”

But if you want to try Sam’s Club coffee without giving up your Costco card, unlike the Kirkland food court, you don’t need to be a member to get there!

curbside pickup sign

In early 2021, Costco joined the ranks of stores offering contactless shopping by partnering with Instacart to pilot curbside pickup. They tried this in a few stores in New Mexico. But in July 2021, the company decided to end the program due to low demand for the service and high cost to provide.

Costco Chief Financial Officer Richard Galanti said on the company’s 2020 report conference call, “Someone pays to pick it and store it and expects you to pick it up. I think that will change with the time – someone has to pay for it, either the company or the customer.”

Meanwhile, Sam’s Club is offering free curbside pickup if you have a Plus membership. Customers order online or through the app, receive a notification when their items are ready, and go to a designated pickup point to pick up their order.

One Redditor, u/FrankieMaddox, commented in the summer of 2021, “I have Sam’s Club and Costco memberships, and while I prefer items at Costco, picking up at Sam’s Club is so convenient…I’d dump completely out of my Sam’s Club membership for Costco if they offered that too.”

sam club scan and let's go
Sam’s Club / Facebook

One thing Sam’s Club has that Costco lacks? A self-service payment option on your phone.

Sam’s Club launched their Scan & Go technology in 2016, and today they have a full-fledged mobile app to make in-store shopping and delivery even easier. Along with providing deals and coupons, prescription refills and a digital membership card, the app allows customers to shop contactless by scanning the items in their cart, paying online and simply showing their receipt. number at the door when leaving. .

Reddit customers expressed mixed feelings about this feature at Costco earlier this year. Some thought it would be a handy addition, while others suspected it would encourage theft. One commenter speculated that introducing a similar payment option would require a significant amount of resources without providing enough value for the retailer.

“I’m all for improving technology, but that’s not going to happen at Costco. I realize Sam’s Club has that feature as well as curbside pickup, but those features cost money … Sam’s Club salaries and benefits aren’t as good as Costco – probably because they’re losing money with bigger investments in those efforts Ultimately, 63 store closings were conducted while Costco n ‘never closed a store,” u/jeremyski said.

So for now, Costco members are still queuing, waiting to hear if the Kirkland retailer will launch the same checkout experience in the near future.

sam's club sam's plus card
Jarrett Homan/Shutterstock

If you want to save, both companies offer integrated rewards programs. But only Sam’s Club allows members to combine their earnings with the deployment of their Sam’s Cash. They can also now redeem these rewards monthly, instead of cashing them out at the end of the year.

Sam’s Club Plus members earn 2% on qualifying in-store or curbside purchases, and Sam’s Club MasterCard holders can earn an additional 3% on these items, plus 5% on gas and 3% on restaurants . Rewards can be applied toward a Sam’s Club purchase or converted to dollars at checkout for cash back.

Currently, Costco offers separate rewards programs for Executive Members, who receive 2% back on eligible Costco purchases, and cardholders of their Costco Anywhere Visa, which includes 4% back on gas. and 3% in restaurants. Both programs are paid annually, so you will have to wait longer to use these rewards.

give a paycheck to an employee

It’s important to know if a company is providing fair compensation and benefits to its employees, especially in a time when the grocery industry relies heavily on retail workers to keep the supply chain moving. In this category, Costco triumphs over Sam’s Club.

The 20somethingfinance.com blogger noted that while both companies offer insurance, 401K plans with matching contributions, and employee stock purchase plans, the hourly wage for Costco starts 50% higher. , at around $15 to $21, while Sam’s Club is around $10 to $19.

By reputation alone, most people report that Costco retains workers by promoting a better work environment. “It’s also been said that Costco raises happen more frequently and there’s a much higher cap than with Sam’s Club/Walmart employees…And then there’s reputation. It’s said that Costco treats employees very well, while Walmart has a long history of opposite,” the blogger wrote.

Another thing coming soon? Costco is adding this highly anticipated feature to its website.