When considering a wholesale club membership, everyone wants to know the best one. Sam's and Costco are better known than the underdog BJ's Wholesale Club, but BJ's expanded its footprint by opening five new stores in 2023, now in 20 states.
This year it expects to expand even more.
BJ's Wholesale and Sam's Club are two popular choices for bulk buyers. Both offer a wide range of discounted products, but which is the best for you?
In this article, we'll compare nine key differences between BJ's and Sam's Club so that you can make an informed decision.
Here are seven key points that differentiate these two stores:
Although both stores have generous discounts and deals, you can typically find a new member deal for both clubs.
The primary difference between BJ's Wholesale Club and Sam's Club is the membership cost. In the past, Sam's membership has been lower or the same as BJ's, but in 2024, Sam's is beating BJ's with a better deal.
A regular Sam's Club member is $50 a year. A regular BJ's Club card membership is $55.
2. Membership Options
Both clubs offer a higher tier membership where you can earn rewards, and Sam's rewards come with free shipping on their website.
BJ's Club Plus Rewards membership is $110 a year. You get 2% cashback on purchases and $0.05 gas discount every time you fill up.
Sam's Plus membership costs $110 a year. You get 2% cashback on purchases and free shipping for items on sams.com.
3. Store Locations
BJ’s Wholesale Clubs are located exclusively in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic U.S. Meanwhile, Sam’s Club has locations throughout the U.S., Puerto Rico, and Mexico. Sam's Club has over 600 locations, while BJ's comes in at around 242.
Sam's Club has a broader national reach, with locations in almost every state. However, BJ's primarily focuses on the Northeast, with most of its stores in that area.
4. Product Selection
BJ’s offers an expanded selection of products compared to Sam’s Club, including more organic and natural food options, as well as bulk items in larger packages than what is typically available at Sam’s Club.
Sam's Club has a much better deli selection in our area. BJ's is slowly trying to keep up with the prepared meals, but Sam's prices are better than BJ's in this department.
Both clubs offer a variety of products, such as groceries, furniture, electronics, clothing, and even gasoline. However, BJ's offers a wider variety of products in their online store, whereas Sam's Club might have more products within each category, like electronics or apparel.
The best bet would be to compare both stores' inventory in the markets you frequently shop in.
5. Payment & Checkout Options
Both clubs allow you to use the app to scan and go making for a quicker checkout process. Both clubs have self-checkouts, which is convenient.
6. Return Policy
Sam's Club has a pretty great return policy. Stating that most items can be returned at any time. Electronics and appliances are in the 90-day category. Heavy equipment and motorsports items are 30 days, and cell phones are returned within 14 days of purchase.
BJ's return policy is not as easy as Sam's. Most items can be returned within one year if you have your original receipt or packing slip. Suppose you don't have either of those; no worries! BJ's can look up your purchase using your Membership card number.
7. Gas Stations
Not all BJ's clubs have a gas station, this is the case for our smaller store in Batavia, NY. Most Sam's Clubs do have gas stations, so when you sign up for a membership, you know you'll be getting fuel savings.
Sam's recently started giving exclusive discounts or coupons when you open the Sam's Club app. You'll get extra discounts when you scan items and then pay in the app.
BJ's offers in-club coupons you need to clip – similar to Sam's instant savings, and they started doing exclusive coupons. You only need to clip those coupons in the BJ's app or website.
Both clubs are partnered with Ibotta, which can give you extra savings on certain brand items at the clubs. Fetch Rewards and Shopkick offer deals you can use at the clubs too.
Both clubs offer optical and tire center services. However, most Sam's clubs do offer a pharmacy as well. BJ's used to have a food court years ago. They no longer do that. Sam's has a food court and the prices are so cheap. This is fun to offer the kids if you have to take them shopping with you.
Customer service is crucial when choosing between BJ's or Sam's Club. From my own personal experience, the customer service was the same at both clubs.
Our local BJ's club, which is smaller, probably has the best customer service. I'm not sure if it's because it's a smaller town, but they seem more willing to help. In the bigger clubs, the service is typical retail; they are there for the paycheck and can't wait to leave.
I would see if there are multiple locations and see which one has a better vibe, but keep in mind that there are so many employees at each club and you can have a different experience each time.
So before you decide which club is best for you, consider the nine key differences between BJ's Wholesale and Sam’s Club!
BJ's Wholesale Club and Sam's Club are two great choices for bulk buyers, but they each have unique differences.
BJ's offers lower membership fees, more extensive product selection, and typically better customer service, but has fewer store locations. Meanwhile, Sam's Club provides a more extensive geographical reach, additional membership tiers with added benefits, and mostly scored well in value pricing, but has a lower rating for customer service.
Ultimately, the better choice will depend on what matters most to your individual preferences and goals.
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