Sam’s Club is owned and operated by Walmart and was founded in 1983. Sam’s Club catered primarily to small business owners until 2007 when it decided to open up the stores to individual customers.
What It’s Like Inside Sam’s Club
The stores are truly warehouses — with items sold directly from pallets and steel cages. Products are varied and include just about everything that a typical household would need.
Sam’s Wholesale Club sells jewelry, designer goods, sunglasses, optical products, flowers, and baked goods in addition to dairy, meat, household cleaners, tires, and more.
A popular feature inside most Sam’s Club stores (which other warehouse clubs have attempted to copy) is the food sampling stands — where customers can sample food items before purchasing.
Membership is required to purchase almost everything that Sam’s Wholesale Club sells. The exceptions are:
- Cafe foods
- Prescription medicines
Anyone can take advantage of the same low prices that Sam’s Club members get on those particular items. It’s not difficult to get a 1-day pass to see what the store is like firsthand without investing in a membership.
A Sam’s Club membership allows you to purchase a multitude of items at lower group rates. In addition to the items mentioned above, you will also find unique items at discounted prices in these departments: appliances, electronics, furniture, jewelry, office products, outdoor and patio products.
With your Sam’s membership, you also get free or discounted access to other services including: auctions, auto buying, cell phone plans, optical, rental cars, and much more.
Sam’s Club Membership Levels
- Advantage membership is $40 and allows you to shop in the Sam’s Wholesale Club stores, as well as online.
- Advantage Plus membership is $100 and gives you the benefits of the Advantage membership, plus additional services such as a health and medical discount card.
- Business membership is $35 and allows business owners to shop in the warehouse, online, plus extra offerings such as Gold Key Hours and business-specific catalogs and magazines.
- Business Plus membership is $100 and includes the benefits of the Business membership, plus professional services such as financial services and check printing, among other things.
- Collegiate membership is $40, but it comes with a $15 Sam’s Club gift card. You just need a valid student ID and an university (.edu) email address.
Costco vs Sam’s Club
If you’re trying to decide between a Sam’s Club membership and a Costco membership, I’d say Sam’s Club is a good bet, due to the fact that they have a good variety of products.
Sure, Costco prices are slightly cheaper on many of the items that they have in common, but Sam’s Club typically has 2 or 3 brands per item, rather than just one. (This is probably because they have the buying power of Walmart behind them.)
Sam’s Club is also known for selling high-end luxury items. For example, you can find Waterford, Swarovski, Coach, and Omega — just to name a few.
Like Costco, Sam’s Wholesale Club has a great return policy — including electronics.
Return policies are generous, but Sam’s Club is superior for electronics. At Sam’s, you have six months to return a computer; you can return anything else anytime. At Costco, only you have 90 days to return most electronics, but you can return other purchases anytime. Source
While Sam’s Wholesale Club has many more store locations than Costco, they don’t do as high a volume. In fact, they recently decided to close all Canada locations. Walmart Supercenters do much better in Canada, so they are opening close to 40 Supercenters in Canada this year.
Here’s a fun little piece of information: How To Tell When Items Are On Sale At Costco And Sam’s Club