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9 Best Things to Buy at Warehouse Clubs

Check out deals on travel, prescription drugs and electronics

spinner image cleaning spray and travel deals are two things you might consider buying at warehouse club stores
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Even though inflation has ebbed a bit, prices for many goods remain higher than they’ve been in years. One great way to combat those price hikes is by shopping at warehouse stores, where you can save by purchasing everyday items in bulk.

There are plenty of opportunities for smart shoppers to save at stores like Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale Club. The key to maximizing savings at warehouse clubs is making sure that you don’t end up purchasing items that you truly don’t need just to take advantage of the price — or overbuying products that will expire or go bad before you’ve had a chance to use them.

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“People start getting into trouble and wasting money at warehouse clubs,” says Kristin McGrath, a shopping expert with RetailMeNot. “They see the per-unit price on perishable goods is really low, but if you’re not having a party anytime soon, or you don’t have a big family, you’re going to probably end up throwing a lot of that stuff away.”

While you may expect to find great deals on such warehouse club staples as cases of canned goods and pallets of toilet paper, here’s a look at 9 more unexpected categories where you can find savings at warehouse clubs.

1. Prescription drugs

The prices of prescription drugs at the pharmacies inside warehouse stores are often lower than those at other pharmacies. This is the rare instance where you don’t even have to be a member to take advantage of savings, since anyone can fill their prescriptions at these pharmacies.

2. Eye care

Not all warehouse clubs offer eyeglasses and optometry services, but many have full-service optical centers on-site at competitive prices. Even if you go to an off-site ophthalmologist, you can bring your prescription to a warehouse club to select discounted glasses or contact lenses.

3. Hearing aids

If your warehouse club offers hearing exams and sells hearing aids, that can be a great way to save on the pricey devices. Costco took the top spot in customer satisfaction in a recent Consumer Reports survey, receiving high marks as well for price transparency and the options.

4. Gasoline

While prices at the pump at warehouse club gas stations fluctuate just as at other gas stations, they can be up to 30 cents less per gallon, says Andrea Woroch, a money consultant. That’s such a great deal it may be worth just topping off your tank whenever you’re on a shopping trip.

The one downside is that those great prices tend to attract long lines of folks looking to fuel up — especially when gas prices are on the rise.

“If you’re going just for gas, I’d go early in the morning or later at night when the lines tend to be shorter,” Woroch says.

5. Gift cards

Warehouse clubs often have a display offering a range of gift cards to national chains as well as local establishments, including restaurants, spas and attractions, at up to 20 percent off face value. These can make a great purchase both as gifts or to use yourself to get an instant discount at restaurants or stores where you frequently shop. 

6. Cleaning products

Kristen Gall, retail and shopping expert at Rakuten, says that warehouse stores are a great place to stock up on items like laundry detergent and multi-surface cleaners.

“You don’t have to worry about the expiration date, typically, with laundry detergent as it has a long shelf life,” she says. “This is something that is always needed, as you wear clothes every day, so I recommend purchasing in bulk. Same goes for cleaning products for multi-surfaces and purposes, as these have a longer shelf life of about two years.”

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7. Travel

The three big warehouse clubs have in-house travel agents whom you can call to arrange discounted vacations, including airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises. Often you’ll get the best deals by purchasing curated packages through these agents.

8. Electronics

While you’re not going to buy them in bulk, electronic goods are often among the most competitively priced items in warehouse stores, especially during Black Friday or the holiday shopping season. One bonus for Costco members: The store automatically extends the manufacturer’s warranty for two years from the date of purchase (or date of delivery for online purchases) on television, projectors, computers, and major appliances.   

9. Clothing

Woroch says that it’s worth looking through the apparel at warehouse stores while you’re there. They tend not to have the widest selection of items, but for basics like leggings or long underwear, they often have name-brand products available at much lower prices than you might see elsewhere.

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