Costco vs. Sam’s Club — Which Wholesale Retailer Fills Your Shopping Cart?

Stocking up on everything for the office, from coffee to paper clips, can be a lot for office managers to keep up with. However, going to wholesale stores makes this task a lot easier. When buying office supplies in bulk, not only do you make fewer trips to the store, but you end up saving the company a bit of money.

But which one should you go to? In this edition of BUZZBATTTLE, we’ve paired megastore Sam’s Club up against its main rival, Costco, to see who comes out victorious as the ultimate superstore.

We’ve compiled the facts, but we’re leaving the decision up to you. So look over each section, then vote for your favorite wholesale retailer in the poll below.

The Contenders

  • Founded: 1983
  • CEO: W. Craig Jelinek
  • HQ: Issaquah, WA
  • Store Locations: 618
  • Facebook Likes: 879,844
  • Accepts Manufacturer’s Coupons: No
  • Stock Price as of April 19, 2013: $104.45 per share, 52 week change of 20.58 percent
  • Annual Sales: $88 billion

  • Founded: 1983
  • CEO: Rosalind G. Brewer
  • HQ: Bentonville, AR
  • Store Locations: 602
  • Facebook Likes: 1,105,460
  • Accepts Manufacturer’s Coupons: No
  • Stock Price as of April 19, 2013: $78.29 per share, 52 week change of 31.49 percent
  • Annual Sales: $50 billion

Round One: Return Policy

Costco guarantees your satisfaction on every product it sells, and that guarantee is backed up by a full refund policy.

Some items, including computers, cameras, MP3 players, cell phones and televisions, must be returned within 90 days of purchase for the refund. Items purchased through can be returned to your local store for a refund, including reimbursement of shipping and handling fees.

Sam’s also offers a 100% satisfaction guarantee on its products. For a full refund, a receipt is needed. Without a receipt, Sam’s will refund the purchase at its last selling price. Just like Costco, most electronics must be returned within 90 days of purchase, with a receipt, for a refund. Fresh products (including meats, bakery items and produce) are subject to Sam’s 200% guarantee which is double your money back or replacement of the item plus refund of its original purchase price. Items purchased through can be returned to your local Sam’s Club for a refund. You must bring in the order print out for a full refund and shipping and handling expenses are not included in the refund.

Round Two: Apps

Costco members can get the app at no charge and use it to shop, find Costco locations, get prescriptions refilled, upload photos and send them directly to the Costco Photo Center and renew their membership. The app also offers a helpful notepad where you can keep a running shopping list. The app includes access to the latest issue of Costco’s member magazine and special “online only” products.

The Sam’s Club app is also free and offers many of the same features that the Costco app offers, including the ability to shop, find locations, upload photos to the Sam’s Club Photo Center, and renew memberships.

The app lets members create lists and add items from their list right to their virtual shopping cart, read and write product reviews, view upcoming events at their local Sam’s and shop an extended selection of “online only” products. Members can use the “Click ‘n’ Pull” feature to pick items to get pulled and picked up at their nearest Sam’s Club location.

Round Three: Memberships

Costco will refund your membership fee in full if at any time you are not satisfied. Costco offers four membership types, all of which are annual.

Executive Business Membership: $110.00. Executive Members enjoy an annual 2 percent reward (limited to $750.00 annually) on almost all Costco purchases and can add six additional cardholders for $55.00 each. Executive Business members can take advantage of savings on services such as check printing, payroll services and identity protection. They also receive roadside assistance at no charge for vehicles enrolled in Costco’s auto insurance program and are even offered special travel perks.

Executive Gold Star Membership: $110.00. The Executive Gold Star Membership includes a free household card and provides the same 2 percent annual reward that executive Business Members enjoy. They also receive additional discounts on many Costco services.

Business Membership: $55.00. Costco’s Business Membership includes an additional household card at no charge, and the ability to add up to six additional cardholders ($55.00 each).

Gold Star Membership: $55.00. This membership allows you to purchase products for personal use and provides one additional card for free.

Like Costco, Sam’s offers four memberships, all of which are annual. Your membership fee will be refunded in full, on or before the expiration date if at any time you are unsatisfied with your membership.

Advantage Plus: $100.00. Advantage Plus members enjoy early shopping hours, starting at 7:00 a.m., Monday through Saturday, 8 percent off name-brand prescriptions and 40 percent discount on a number of generic prescriptions. When Advantage Plus members use the “Click ‘n’ Pull” to order online by 5:00 p.m., their order will be pulled and ready for them the next day. The Advantage Plus membership also comes with no-cost flat tire repair, car battery testing and wiper blade installation.

Advantage: $40.00. Advantage members receive two annual membership cards, free flat tire repair, car battery testing and wiper blade installation service, and the “Click ‘n’ Pull” service.

Business Plus: $100.00. The Business Plus membership allows you to add up to 16 memberships at $35 each, gives you access to “Sam’s Instant Savings,” access to early shopping hours, Sam’s “Click ‘n’ Pull” service and the same prescriptions savings given to Advantage Plus members.

Business: $35.00. The Business membership provides you with one primary card, one household card and the ability to add up to eight memberships. Business members can bring in invoices and enjoy free cost comparisons per item, early shopping hours and access to Small Business Administration (SBA) loans from $5,000.00 up to $25,000.00.