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 a warehouse membership, perks you may not be aware of. Here are just eight of them.
Warehouse clubs can be a wine lover’s paradise. Indeed, according to a 2012 report by CNBC, “Costco is the world’s largest importer of high-end French wines.” And the store’s Kirkland wines are generally priced lower than similar wines elsewhere. BJ’s also offers a nice variety of wine at good prices and even holds wine tastings at many of its stores.
But the chain to watch is Sam’s Club, which launched its first-ever house-brand wines this year. The store recently rolled out $8 bottles of chardonnay, cabernet and a prosecco under its Member’s Mark store brand.
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.
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 recently 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.)
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.
Prescription drug prices that won’t break the bank
If you don’t have prescription insurance (or if it doesn’t cover everything), you could join Costco’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. Indeed, a 2015 study from Consumer Reports found that Costco has the cheapest prescription drugs, outperforming Walmart and other competitors. But BJ’s and Sam’s also offer their members discounted drug prices.
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.
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?