When it comes to bargain hunting, savvy shoppers swear by bulk retailer stores like Sam’s Club and Walmart. And, you may not know, but these two wholesale club stores actually have more in common than low price tags and bulk savings—Walmart owns Sam’s Club.
Although they’re very similar in many aspects, deciding which business to frequent for the best deals can be tricky—there are positives and drawbacks to each store experience.
In this guide, we’ll explore the pros and cons of shopping at Sam’s Club vs Walmart, highlighting which wholesale club offers the best prices on sought-after items, and which store offers the best customer experience. Check it out.
Shopping at Sam’s Club: Everything You Need to Know
Sam’s Club owner Sam Walton opened his first store in Midwest City, Oklahoma in 1983. Today, there are almost 600 Sam’s Club stores across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The membership-only Sam’s Club warehouse store is known for offering discounts on items from electronics to booze to groceries and gas purchases.
Sam’s Club offers several different kinds of membership options. These include:
- Sam’s Club, Club – The $45 a year club membership offers quite a few incentives, like:
- Extra savings on top of members-only deals
- The opportunity to apply for a Sam’s Club Mastercard, which features 1% cash back at the store
- Fuel access
- Access to the tire and battery center
- Complimentary Sam’s Club membership to share with someone from your household
- Discounted add-on memberships
- Sam’s Club, Plus – For only $100 a year, the Plus membership is a great option for those who love the warehouse store’s feel and bulk buying choices. Perks of the Plus include everything the basic Club membership offers plus:
- Cash back rewards on up to $500 worth of purchases a year
- Free shipping
- Early shopping
- Access to the Sam’s Club pharmacy with free select prescriptions and over 600 prescriptions under $10 or less
- Access to optical services and up to 20% off a pair of eyeglasses
Sam’s Club also offers discounted student and military memberships along with a gift card at the time of purchase.
The Pros of Shopping at Sam’s Club
Sam’s Club store devotees will tell you that this members-only warehouse has everything that its well-known Costco counterpart has, with even cheaper membership prices to boot. The positives of becoming a Sam Club member and shopping at this store include:
- Compared to Costco, Sam’s Club offers more diversity in products, has better hours for optimum shopping, and has more varied methods of acceptable payment (i.e. SNAP, the four major credit cards, plus Sam’s and Walmart credit cards).
- Sam’s Club offers certain deals that are worth the price of membership admission. These include:
- Paper towels
- Snack foods
- Frozen food
- Compared to its parent company Walmart, Sam’s Club offers lower prices on household staples like dish detergent, paper products, hand soap, and over-the-counter cold and flu medicine.
- With savings on fuel, tires, and even prescription glasses, Sam’s Club is a one-stop shop. You can pick up a few packs of ribs, lawn chairs, and beach towels for a backyard barbecue at the same place where you pick up your monthly pharmacy prescriptions.
The Cons of Shopping at Sam’s Club
While Sam’s Club measures up to and sometimes even exceeds the benefits of Costco, for shoppers who fear they’ll get lost for years in the gargantuan warehouse-style savings bin, it may be best to forgo securing a membership.
Sam’s Club drawbacks include:
- If you don’t have a large family, investing in a Sam’s Club membership may not make sense as so many items are only available in bulk sizes. Will you really eat all of that super affordable, delicious popcorn before it gets stale?
- While there are only around 600 Sam’s Club location stores in the country, there are nearly 5,000 Walmart stores in the U.S. Depending on where you live, it may be difficult to track down a Sam’s Club.
- If you’ve long been a devoted Costco shopper, you may not be impressed with Sam’s Club’s offerings. A Costco store has better return policies, and also has more organic and nutritious food offerings than Sam’s Club.
Shopping at Walmart: Everything You Need to Know
Shopping at Walmart requires no membership, which can be appealing in and of itself—all you need to do to find savings at this superstore is to stroll right in.
The Walton family opened the doors to their first Walmart store in 1962 in Rogers, Arkansas. Since then, millions of American families have walked through the aisles of Walmart looking for everything from kids’ toys to pet food to home goods and clothes.
As we noted earlier, there’s seemingly a Walmart on every corner, with approximately 4,734 stores nationwide.
The Pros of Shopping at Walmart
If the idea of tracking down and trekking through a city-sized Sam’s Club warehouse makes you wary, you may prefer to stick to shopping deals at your friendly neighborhood Walmart.
The positives of shopping at the famed Wally World include:
- Walmart is a magical place where you’re able to buy a week’s worth of groceries, pick up a prescription, and grab a cute new pair of pajamas all in one outing. With low prices and the option to purchase individual as well as bulk items, Walmart offers a user-friendly customer experience, no membership required.
- Do you wish you could shop at Walmart but also take advantage of perks like the ones available through Sam’s Club’s Plus membership? Well, now you can. With Walmart’s premium subscription service, Walmart Plus, shoppers can enjoy benefits like unlimited free deliveries, savings on fuel, and a mobile scan-and-go option.
The Cons of Shopping at Walmart
As we detailed earlier, when you compare the prices on household staples between Walmart and Sam’s Club, the club members-only warehouse is cheaper every time. Other drawbacks to shopping at Walmart include:
- Shoppers who dislike the size of Sam’s Club stores may not prefer their parent company’s stores. Walmart is still a beast of a business, with crowded parking lots and long, rambling aisles filled with items you may never need.
- Although you can shop for almost every item on your list at Walmart, compared to Sam’s Club, this store’s offerings may not suit the person in a time crunch. If you want to only stop at one location on your day off, Sam’s Club offers more in terms of services and available products.
RebateKey: Helping you Find Deals Daily
In the best-deal-battle of Sam’s Club vs Walmart, the winner is almost always the consumer. You can secure low prices on popular items at both stores—the question of which store is better is really up to personal preference.
While it makes more sense for some shoppers to have access to low-priced bulk items like those available at Sam’s Club, other shoppers may prefer to purchase items in lower quantities—at affordable prices—at Walmart. Both stores offer more than just groceries and electronics, such as on-site pharmacies and optical services.
If saving money is your personal mantra, you’ve probably spent your fair share of time at Sam’s Club, Walmart, or another big brand store. To find savings from the comfort of your home, you’re in the right place. Here at RebateKey, we offer an easy-to-use online resource to ensure you’ll never have to pay full price again.
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