People become members of warehouse clubs — a field dominated by BJ’s Wholesale Club, Costco and Sam’s Club — because they believe they’ll save money. But for years experts have warned that customers often wind up spending more due to impulse buying and that not every item is a bargain.
That may or may not be true, but what is apparent is that there are some very nice perks that come with shopping at warehouse clubs, some you may not know about. Here are eight of them.
Costco and Sam’s offer free hearing tests to determine if you need a hearing aid. BJ’s offers 40 percent off many hearing aids, plus a free battery supply for one year and a free three-year warranty. Most warehouse clubs offer reduced prices on glasses and contact lenses, too.
Low-cost prescription drugs
A 2018 Consumer Reports study found that Costco has the cheapest prescription drugs among brick-and-mortar stores, outperforming Walmart and big chain drugstores. Sam’s also offers signifcantly lower drug prices, according to Consumer Reports. (BJ's stores do not have pharmacies.)
You don't even have to join the clubs to get those low prices — anyone can use a Costco or Sam's Club pharmacy — but both offer additional drug discounts for members. For example, Costco members who have prescriptions their health insurance won't cover (or who don't have insurance at all) may be able to joint the store's Prescription Program and likely save on a variety of drugs — check out the list of meds included here. You can even get prescriptions for your pet.
The one thing many people hate about warehouse stores is how crowded they can be during weekends and at other peak periods. Members of Sam’s Clubs don’t have to deal with that hassle. They can go online and order what they want. Employees will gather the items together and have them ready for customers to pick up at the time of their choosing. And the best part? It’s free and may cut down on impulse buying! BJ’s offers a similar program. Members reserve their items online, give employees two hours to fill their order and then pick up their items.
While all may offer standard delivery, Costco and BJ’s have partnered with Instacart in select areas to offer same-day delivery on your everyday items. Since you are ordering through a third party, you don’t need a membership, but you still get the warehouse price! The Instacart service does charge a delivery fee, and it can fluctuate based on demand. (You’ll have to see if the delivery cost outweighs yearly membership as another way to save.)
Warehouse membership often comes with reduced rates on emergency roadside assistance — or even free assistance. Sam’s Club members enjoy no-cost towing (for up to 10 miles), jump starts and flat-tire changes. Take a look at your membership card to find out what roadside benefits are offered.
Buy a TV, computer or camera at Costco, Sam’s Club or BJ’s and you’ll get free tech support to help you set it up or to make a repair. Costco will even help members with most appliances.
Discounted bulk film tickets
Like to go to the movies but find the cost prohibitive? Then pick up a multipack of discounted movie tickets at a warehouse club. They usually don’t expire and are good for any time or day of the week. For example, Sam’s Club sells two adult movie tickets for $16.98, and Costco sells a 10-pack for $84.99. That may not seem like a huge bargain, but every bit helps. And there are lots of different bundles available. Just check out your club’s movie-ticket offerings.
Warehouse clubs can be a wine lover’s paradise (and in some states you don't need a membership to shop for alcohol). Indeed, Costco is a major importer of French wines, and in 2019 The Seattle Times said the store's private-label Kirkland Signature wines "are arguably the best deal on vino that you can find anywhere."
Sam's Club has it's own house-brand wines under its Member's Mark label, launched in 2017 and including bottles of prosecco, sauvignon blanc, zinfandel and more in the $7-$8 range. BJ’s also offers a nice variety of wine at good prices, even holding wine tastings at many of its stores, and in 2019 the chain rolled out its Wellsley Farm line of under-$10 wines.
In the end, it’s up to you to decide if the annual membership fee is worth it. But certainly the above perks sweeten the deal. And where else but at Costco can you get a hot dog and refillable fountain drink for only $1.50?