Sam's Club vs. BJ's Wholesale Club: Experts Say One Is Better
You may want to consider this info before your next bulk item purchase.
Customers make it a point to shop at a wholesale store like Sam's Club or BJ's Wholesale Club for a reason. The warehouse retailers can help stretch your budget with well-priced bulk goods, make it easy to grab everything you need in one place, and provide plenty of deals for those holding memberships. But even though it may seem like the two stores are interchangeable, experts say there's a solid argument for picking one over the other based on your preferences. Read on for their advice on shopping at Sam's Club vs. BJ's Wholesale Club, and which is better.
READ THIS NEXT: 6 Warnings to Shoppers From Ex-BJ's Wholesale Club Employees.
Sam's Club has more locations than BJ's Wholesale Club, for now.
There's no question that having more locations can be a huge benefit, especially for convenience's sake. In this case, there's a clear winner between the two whole stores when it comes to the retail footprint.
"Sam's Club has over 600 locations, whereas BJ's has just over 200—but sells more name brands," says shopping expert Trae Bodge.
However, this advantage is in the process changing.
"Sam's Club has significantly more locations than BJ's, but BJ's is branching out of the northeast U.S. where all of its stores are primarily located right now," Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews.com, tells Best Life. "New locations are expected to open later in 2023 in Alabama, and there are already existing locations in Florida and Georgia."
BJ's will accept manufacturer coupons.
Many people flock to warehouse stores because of the many built-in deals they can receive for buying in bulk, not to mention the sales and special offers that make their way onto shelves. But BJ's has a notable leg up by allowing customers to take advantage of special promotions that the store doesn't even run.
"It's the only warehouse club that allows coupons of any type, and not only does it allow manufacturer's coupons, it also lets you stack those with BJ's coupons and offers to save even more," says Ramhold. "Sam's Club doesn't allow coupons at all, so if you're looking for savings, you'll have to rely on whatever current promotions they're running."
READ THIS NEXT: 5 Warnings to Shoppers From Ex-Sam's Club Employees.
BJ's offers discounted educational and military memberships.
It's not uncommon for a retailer to offer special discounts for certain shoppers depending on their profession or status with the armed services. In this case, it's important to point out that BJ's can provide a bit of a better deal when it comes to accessing savings.
"Teachers, staff, and educators can take advantage of the super affordable educator membership, while verified veterans, active duty military, and their families can choose a discounted basic or premium tier membership," says Ramhold. "By comparison, Sam's Club may or may not have a military offer currently running—the fine print notes it's available for a limited time only—in which members who join or renew can receive $10 off their next purchase."
BJ's can be lacking in on-site food options.
Sometimes, getting the best shopping experience at a wholesale retailer can come down to more than just who can offer the lowest prices or most savings. Some warehouse stores have created deeply devoted customer bases thanks to their food court offerings. But if you're the type who looks forward to treating yourself to a snack while running errands, one chain might leave you disappointed.
"The two stores have pretty similar amenities, like gas, eye doctors, travel deals, and handy home installation services, but one notable difference is that most BJ's don't have a café," says Bodge.
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BJ's is probably a better choice, but it might depend on where you live.
Overall, BJ's came out as the favorite, though Sam's Club certainly has its selling points. And while each store has clear benefits over the other in certain areas, experts point out the choice between whether to shop at BJ's Wholesale Club or Sam's Club could ultimately come down to convenience.
"Because they are so similar, my advice is to choose whichever one will allow you to get the most use out of your membership—which usually comes down to how easy they are to get to," suggests Bodge.
If the two options are equally close by, she advises making your determination based on more subtle differences, including a preference for one house brand over another.