What is the difference between Sam’s Club and Costco?

Shopping for your household needs may be done on a routine basis: either weekly, every other week, or even monthly. Regardless of the shopping schedule you do, you might also have a go-to shopping mall or grocery shop which does not only offers a variety of choices for your shopping needs, but is also a good option that matches the proximity to your house, shopping convenience, affordable prices, and more. Now, we will be looking at two shopping giants when talking about buying for your grocery needs: Sam’s Club and Costco. 

Company History  

Sam’s Club was started by Sam Walton who was at the same time an owner of the large retailer – Walmart. The first Sam’s Club warehouse was opened in 1983 at Oklahoma, 21 years after the founding of Walmart. Sam’s Club was originally named Sam’s Wholesale Club which was meant to help small businesses grow by putting large discounts on bulk-products. In 1991, Sam’s Club went international beginning in Mexico City, it was followed by other countries such as China, Brazil, and Puerto Rico. 

Costco on the other hand is considered to be the original bulk retailer with its first location in San Diego in 1976. Back then, it was first called Price Club founded by Sol Price and was dedicated to serve small businesses. Jim Sinegal, who was at that time the Executive Vice President made Costco a successful business chain. After leaving Price Club, he and another lawyer-businessman named Jeffrey Hart Brotman cofounded Costco Wholesale which was modeled after Price Club. The wholesale store first opened in 1983 in Seattle. 10 years later, Price Club and Costco merged and formed Price Costco. In 1997, the company was named just Costco.

Warehouse Size


Almost all warehouses in different branches of both Sam’s Club and Costco measures the same. Warehouses of Costco measures up to 146, 000 square feet while Sam’s Club warehouses measures 136,000 square feet.  


Sam’s Club has over 600 locations across the United States and Puerto Rico. The state with the highest number of retail store is in Texas with 82 stores, followed by Florida with 46 stores, and California with 29 stores. Sam’s club also has branches in China, Brazil, and Mexico. 

There are about 847 warehouses of Costco all over its branches: one each in Iceland, New Zealand, and Sweden; two each in China and France, four in Spain, 14 each in Taiwan and Australia, 18 in Korea, 29 in the United Kingdom, 31 in Japan, 40 in Mexico, 107 in Canada, and lastly and the highest number of Costco warehouse is 583 in the United States and Puerto Rico. Sam’s Club is located in 44 states of America while Costco in 46 states. 

Membership Options

To gain access to these two shops, there is a membership card you need to purchase. For Costco, the basic gold star or business membership amounts to $60, and $120 for the executive plan. It includes a 2% cashback rewards of up to $1,000. For Sam’s Club, the membership card for basic club membership costs $45 and $100 for the deluxe special VIP membership plan which also includes a 2% cashback up of to $500. Sam’s Club members with these cards may be eligible for early shopping hours (usually 2 or 3 hours before the actual opening hours for public) and free shipping vouchers.  

Item Selection

Sam’s Club offers more product options compared to Costco. But in terms of brands that are much more known or widely consumed brand products, Costco have the upper hand. The good quality of their personal brand also sets Costco at higher bar compared to Sam’s Club. Regardless, both stores offer products to be bought by bulk or individually.  

Credit Card 

Both chain stores offer their own branded credit cards which can be used as membership cards as well. For Costco, Gold Star members can receive 2% cash back on purchases, while a 1% cashback for Sam’s Club members. For members that belong on the plus membership tier, Sam’s Club gives 3% cashback while Costco still gives 2% cashback. 

Item Prices

Both chain stores aim to make their prices lower in order to attract more customers. These low prices are compensated by the membership fees they ask for their members each renewal. 

Food Court


Food court is another similar feature that is present at both chain stores. They both sell snacks that are ready to eat such as hot dogs, pizzas, burgers, and usually offers different sauce condiments such as ketchup, mustard, relish, and toppings such as onions. For drinks, both stores offer shakes, and sodas with a variety to choose from for shoppers who would like to take a rest from shopping. 

Final Thoughts

Sam’s Club and Costco are two different chain stores that allows customers to shop their grocery needs. They differ in terms of the how the company history, membership fees, items price and selection, credit cards perks, and many other things. Although these differences set them apart from each other, bot companies give competitive low prices for their customers.