When it comes to rivals BJ's Wholesale Club and Costco Wholesale club, has it going on. Almost the way Target and Walmart are?! No, maybe the way Amazon and Target are?
There are similarities. Both wholesale clubs require a membership to shop. BJs Wholesale is $55 a year, and Costco is $60 a year. You can upgrade the memberships.
I can see a benefit to having both memberships as I do. Yet, I'm picking BJ's over Costco for the reasons mentioned below.
Let's start with the ease of shopping at BJs
Costco is always busy. Unless you go at 10 am, when most clubs open by noon, the crowds pick up on a weekday. On the weekends, forget it.
If you need to pick up some hamburgers for a cookout on the way home and want to shop at Costco because the meat is almost always cheaper at wholesale clubs, no matter which one you choose, you'll wait in line.
AT BJ's, you can use the express scan- which more clubs are rolling out or choose from the number of self-checkout lanes. I like I can shop at BJ's for a few items.
The former thinking wholesale members must only shop once a month, stock up, and expect to wait.
With Instacart taking off, consumers today want nothing to do with waiting, right?
The Membership is Cheaper- Because there are More Deals
There wasn't any free trial or discount membership when I signed up for Costco. However, you can always shop the club at BJ's with a free 90-day trial membership.
Or you can get membership deals through Groupon or sign up for a $25 year BJs membership online.
If you think the membership is cheaper because the quality is less, I have to disagree, at least for our two locations. Our local BJ's seems to come out with a new store-brand item every couple of weeks, and the organic line is increasing.
I honestly don't get the Kirkland brand craze because many store brands are name-brand items anyways.
For example, these wholesale clubs aren't manufacturing their fresh new things here, and it's another brand with the BJs or Kirkland brand over it. Right?!
The Wellsley Farms brand seems to expand every year. Although the name isn't as prominent as the Kirkland brand for BJ's shoppers, they are coming to love and trust the Wellsley Farms and Berkley Jensen brands.
I see why shopping at Costco Kirkland is a hit because the name-brand items at Costco are typically higher priced than at BJ's because of coupons.
Maybe this was a brilliant marketing move for Costco to create a loyal name-brand shoppers community.
Don't get me wrong; I enjoy shopping and understand everyone has their favorites.
I live in upstate New York and have four BJs' Wholesale clubs near me to shop at. But, unfortunately, I have only one Costco.
This is a problem because we all know the store's success comes from the store manager to exception. So when the management level isn't meeting the brand's expectations, there is disappointment.
This is why it's nice to have options. In upstate New York, BJ's Wholesale is king. Unfortunately, the nearest Sam's club to us is 67 miles away!
I've price-checked in our area, and BJ's is the cheapest again this year for a propane tank refill. The price is $7.99. For non-members, it's $12.45.
I'm not sure if it is dependent on your area, but our local Costco doesn't offer this option. However, you can purchase a pre-filled tank in the club for $29.99 regular price. We often see a clipless coupon on this too.
The Prices Are Cheaper
Even with BJ's changing their coupon policy in April 2019, you can still stack one manufacturer coupon with a BJ's coupon.
For me, couponing and watching how we spend our money has led us to a debt-free lifestyle. One I couldn't imagine not living.
If I am going be honest about my finances, I want to look at the item and see which one is cheaper. BJ's basic Membership fees are cheaper by $5 than Costco, BUT BJ's runs a $25 promotion for new members online.
When Lauren Gruetman, a frugal living author, made a price comparison of BJ's, Sam's, and Costco, BJs came out as the cheapest one.
When CNBC compared BJs and Costco's online prices, guess who came out the winner? BJ's!
We compared Bounty Paper Towels to BJ's and Costco Brand Paper Towels HERE.
BJ's offers it's members the chance to save more by using coupons, whereas Costco offers its members savings instantly.
The overall Shopping Experience of the Store
Are you familiar with Lowe's and Home Depot? Do you know how Lowe's seems to appeal to the consumer more than Home Depot? Home Depot gives the feel of coming in and getting what you need; you don't need to browse.
That is how I like to compare Costco and BJ's. In appearance, BJ's Wholesale is Lowe's, and Costco is Home Depot.
When I went to Costco for the first time, I wasn't a fan that the aisles weren't marked with items. As a new shopper, I had no idea where to start.
At BJ's, I like the aisles having the general items listed. Like a regular grocery store.
I find the signs at BJs easier to read and where there is a sale price, which stands out.
I find it easier to spot deals– especially with BJ's putting most of their clearance items on endcaps for us.
Cheaper Online Shopping
BJ's Wholesale Club recently started offering a $10 inner circle membership to those who want to shop ONLINE only. I see an intelligent move for the shift of all online shopping.
Shopping online is an excellent option for those who want a better deal on patio furniture, beds, or any large furniture item. Plus, online shopping is a perfect option if you don't live close enough to a BJ's Wholesale club to shop frequently.
It's nice to know you can pay $10 to shop online and get all the online prices members to receive.
The Hours of Operation
Our BJ's Wholesale Club is open 9 am- 9 pm Monday – Saturday. Sunday it is 9 am- 8 pm. And of course, this changes for holidays.
Our Local Costco Wholesale club is open from 10 am – 8:30 pm. Saturday 9:30 am – 6 pm. Sunday 10 am – 6 pm.
Six o clock on the weekend is early, and I get that for employees working at Costco; this is a great thing. However, I also understand for those who work weekends and shop after work, this is a problem.
I hope this gives you insight into why there are some perks to shopping at BJ's or Costco. I enjoy shopping at Both wholesale clubs, but these reasons are my favorite if I had to choose one or the other.
Gas is Cheaper
If you are shopping at BJs, most likely, you are used to coupons and hunting or deals. However, with their new gas promotions at BJ's, you get gas for as low as 2¢/gal.
When I compared Costco and BJs gas prices on the same day, Costco was slightly lower. However, if I buy one select item at BJs, I already get 10¢/gal of gas, making BJ's cheaper.
This doesn't factor in the gas promotions you can stack, either! As the image above shows, BJ's Wholesale club will frequently run gas promotions where you buy two items and get 25/gal of gas.
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BJ’s Wholesale Club may not be the first name that comes to mind when you think of wholesale retailers, but maybe it should be. Compared to Costco, BJ’s has cheaper gas, more exclusive deals, takes coupons, and is less crowded, making for a better shopping experience overall.
BJ's is worth checking out if you’re looking to switch wholesale clubs or are simply considering signing up for an annual membership. See why so many people are making the switch – sign up for a membership today!
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