Access to stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s starts at $45 to $60 a year for a basic membership. This isn’t a bank-breaking investment. But you do want to make sure you get your money’s worth.
Well, whether you already have a membership or are considering one in the near future, here are 12 perks that you may not know about. They could end up saving you a lot more than your annual membership fee!
1. You Can Use Coupons
If you’ve avoided warehouse stores because you’re a Sunday circular snipping fanatic, worry no more. It’s still possible to use coupons at many locations.
Here are the guidelines for each of the big three membership clubs:
- BJ’s–Non-expired manufacturer’s coupons are accepted, with a limit of one coupon per item purchased. Unless the coupon explicitly states otherwise, you can also use the coupon on item multi-packs. This is handy, since these combo packs are sort of a “thing” at warehouse clubs. They did accept competitors’ coupons and those from Sunday circulars for a while. But they don’t appear to accept them any longer. They do offer online coupons and instant savings, though.
- Costco–While Costco won’t accept manufacturer’s coupons, they do offer members an exclusive coupon book and app. This coupon book is a monthly offering. It gives members hundreds of dollars in discounts (on top of their everyday bulk price savings). You can also use the Ibotta app when shopping at Costco to double up on your savings on certain items.
- Sam’s Club–This club no longer accepts coupons from manufacturers or competitors, but they do have ever-changing savings and promotions shown online.
2. You Get Awesome Discounts on Gas
If you have a club card, you already know that one of the best perks is the gas discount. And boy, does it add up!
The actual discount offered at each location varies. But I regularly save anywhere from $0.12 to $0.25 a gallon compared to the average-priced station down the road. This is well worth it to plan my route, so that I swing by Costco as my gauge nears E.
I drive a large SUV with a 28-gallon tank and fill up approximately once a week. If I saved $0.25 a gallon each time I filled up, that would be $364 a year in gas savings alone!
Not every warehouse club location will offer gas, so be sure to check the Gas Finder on each company’s website to check.
If you want to double up on gas savings, look into getting your club of choice’s credit card. Not only will you get the same great gas savings as all other members, but you’ll also get cash back rewards on your fuel purchases. The big three clubs offer:
- Costco–The Costco Citi Anywhere Visa® card by Citi offers an additional 4% cash back on fuel purchases worldwide (not just those made at Costco gas stations).
- Sam’s Club–The Sam’s Club® MasterCard® offers 5% cash back on fuel purchases made in the U.S. and Puerto Rico (only excluding those made at competitor warehouse clubs).
- BJ’s Club–The My BJ’s Perks® MasterCard offers an additional $0.10 per gallon discount on BJ’s fuel purchases, and 2% cash back on fuel purchases made at non-BJ’s gas station locations.
Signing up for a credit card through your warehouse club is a great way to double up on your fuel savings.
3. Tires Are Cheap
Replacing the tires on your vehicle, in general, is a significant expense. If you buy through your local warehouse club, though, you’ll likely save a chunk of change. And you’ll also enjoy benefits for the life of the tire(s).
- Costco – The club regularly offers manufacturer’s promotional discounts in addition to club discounts on name brand tires. They also offer a complimentary Road Hazard Warranty for up to five years from the date of purchase, which replaces or repairs tires if they’re damaged or fail during normal use (here are the specifics).
- Sam’s Club – They often offer tires at a significant discount, compared with other tire shops. However, their four-year tire warranty doesn’t cover road hazards and is pretty limited.
- BJ’s Club – This club offers the shortest road hazard warranty, but it’s fairly comprehensive and comes with additional perks. The warranty is good for three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. It covers holes, cuts, bubbles, etc. If something happens in the first nine months, you’ll get a free tire (up to $200). After that, the replacement is prorated by mileage. However, you do get free rotation, balancing, flat repairs, and inflation checks for the life of the tire, as well as cheap installation ($15 per tire).
4. Free Screenings to Keep You Healthy
One of the more important benefits to your warehouse club membership is that they offer free health screenings to members.
- Costco–Here you can get diabetes, heart, lung, hearing, and osteoporosis screenings, free of charge.
- Sam’s Club–This club offers members complimentary screenings for glucose, total cholesterol, HDL, risk ratio, body fat, blood pressure, vision, and hearing.
- BJ’s Club–The club’s hearing aid vendor, HearUSA, offers hearing screenings if you think you’d be a good candidate for aids. Otherwise, the club occasionally offers advertised health screenings.
5. Save On Prescriptions, Glasses, and Contacts
If you fill prescriptions or require vision correction, you know that the costs can add up (and you’re often stuck paying whatever the manufacturers want to charge). Well, if you’re a warehouse club member, you can get all of these for less.
All three warehouse clubs have pharmacy and optical services, meeting your pharmaceutical and vision needs at a lower price. You can usually find coupons for additional discounts online. Also, the clubs regularly offer promotional prescription prices for free (or largely-discounted) generic and name brand meds.
6. Get More Travel for Your Dollar
Warehouse clubs may not be the first place you think to look when planning your vacation, but perhaps they should be.
Each club has its own travel department (BJ’s Travel, Sam’s Club Travel, and Costco Travel). They offer guaranteed discounts on cruises, airfare, hotels, rental cars, and more. Plus, if you use the aforementioned club credit cards to book said travel, you’ll earn even more back (3% from Sam’s Club and Costco, and a rebate card worth $25-500 from BJ’s).
7. Tickets Are Cheaper
Maybe you aren’t planning a full vacation, but want to get away to the local amusement park, movie theater, or even just a nice dinner on the town. Well, chances are that your warehouse club can offer you a discount.
For example, Costco offers a 10-pack of movie tickets starting at $84.99 (about $8.50 a ticket). If you’ve gone to a movie theater any time in the last decade, you know that this is a significant savings! Sam’s Club offers similar pricing as does BJ’s–but in two-packs.
Be sure to check with your local club to see which venues, parks, and entertainment options are available with your membership. You might be surprised at where you can save money!
8. Even Insurance Is Discounted
Ok, this one was a surprise to me. I had no idea that you could shop around for deals on health, auto, home, life, dental, and vision insurance through a warehouse club. But guess what? You can.
In fact, Costco has its own insurance marketplace if you want to shop around for health insurance for yourself, your family, or even your small business. At Sam’s Club, you can easily find coverage for health insurance at the same place you sign up for LifeLock identity protection. And at BJ’s, it’s easy to get discounts on home and auto insurance through GEICO.
Enjoy Perks Without a Membership
The advantages of a warehouse club membership are many (and this article may have just persuaded you to buy in). But you can actually enjoy a number of perks without paying the annual fee.
1. Use Gift Cards for Gas
You may not know this, but Sam’s Club and Walmart are owned by the same company. You may also not know that you can pay at the Sam’s Club pumps with a Walmart gift card.
This is an easy way to enjoy the gas discounts offered without buying a full membership. All you have to do is go to your local Walmart and buy a gift card in the amount that you want. Then, the next time you pass a Sam’s Club fuel location and need gas, you can use that gift card to activate the pumps (and your per-gallon discount).
2. Prescriptions Don’t Need a Membership
As mentioned, the warehouse clubs often offer discounts on prescription drugs through their pharmacies, especially when compared to other national drugstore chains. However, you don’t need to be a member of the club to take advantage of the pharmacy prices.
- Costco–Here, you can fill your prescriptions even if you’re not a member, with or without joining their Costco Member Prescription Program.
- Sam’s Club–You don’t need to be a member to fill prescriptions here, and all locations also stock 200+ of the most commonly-prescribed medications for only $4 each.
- BJ’s–Just let the folks at the door know that you’re filling a prescription, and they’ll let you in to visit the pharmacy, even without a membership.
3. Use Instacart to Get Member Pricing
You may or may not know about Instacart, the grocery shopping service that is taking over the country. We’ve talked about the benefits of grocery delivery before, but in this case, it might really be worthwhile.
Recently, both Costco and BJ’s teamed up with Instacart to offer same-day delivery from most of their locations. With this service, you can shop the store’s full inventory and pick the timeframe during which you want your goods to be delivered to your door. Instacart does charge a delivery fee (or you can sign up for a membership through the app) as well as a service fee.
However, you don’t need a warehouse club membership in order to shop at either of these two clubs if you use Instacart. If you want to really stock up or just try out the store without committing to a year’s worth of membership, this might be a great workaround.
4. Try Before You Buy
Lastly, if you’re still on the fence and really just want to get a taste of the warehouse club life before you commit, you can do so. Just sign up for a day pass or trial membership and see what you think!
- Costco–This club does not offer trial memberships or day passes. However, they do offer a full refund of your paid membership price at any time, in full, if you’re not satisfied. So, if you buy a membership and decide a few weeks later that it wasn’t worth the expense, you can get the entire cost refunded back without any loss to you.
- Sam’s Club–At Sam’s Club, you can easily print off a free one-day guest pass to check out the club or even do some shopping. This way, you can take the store for a spin before committing to a year. Just be aware, though, that if you use the guest pass to shop without also buying an annual membership, you’ll pay an additional 10% on any advertised prices (though, these should still be considerably less than you’d find in the supermarket or department store).
- BJ’s Club–The best of the three in this respect, BJ’s offers a ton of options if you want to try out the club before committing. You can purchase a one-day shopping pass to browse or buy from any club location (a 20% surcharge applies, similar to Sam’s Club). You can also find the store regularly offering 60- and 90-day free trials (one per household). Call and ask your local club where you can find coupons for a trial pass to their location.
Whether or not a warehouse club is worth the membership cost to you depends on many factors. However, if you have a large family, travel often, use prescriptions, or fill your tank regularly, it is definitely worth crunching the numbers.
When you can save on more than just 100-packs of toilet paper, the annual fee seems even more worthwhile.