Warehouse Club Perks
To make the most of a Sam’s Club or Costco membership, smart shoppers partake in much more than bargains on bulk merchandise. Wholesale clubs offer their members a host of free services and deals. Didn’t take time to read the brochure? Here are some of the many perks of warehouse club membership, whether you shop at Sam’s or Costco. Not a member? You can apply here for Costco and here for Sam’s Club.
Members who have questions about setting up or using a TV, home theater, digital music player, camera, or computer purchased at a warehouse club can rely on free tech support by phone. The service is no longer available at Sam’s Club (as of November 2019) but it can still be found from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. PST daily (excluding holidays) at Costco.
Sam’s Club offers free health tests at its pharmacies. Blood glucose screenings are free for members any day of the week, and cholesterol tests are $19. More comprehensive health screenings, which include body-fat analysis, blood pressure, cholesterol, hearing, and vision testing, are available on specific health screening events throughout the year.
Costco and Sam’s Club both promise to refund the membership fee for customers who are not satisfied. They set no time limit for returns of most merchandise, with the exception of electronics. Sam’s Club’s Freshness Guarantee allows for a full refund plus replacement of fresh produce, meat, and baked goods, or double your money back.
Both wholesale clubs offer select hearing aid services. Members can make appointments for complimentary hearing tests and free hearing aid checkups. Costco includes hearing aid cleaning and loss/damage purchase protection for free. Sam’s Club also offers free screenings, plus hearing-aid adjustments and cleanings.
Sam’s Club and Costco provide insurance services through third parties, which have exclusive rates for wholesale club members. Sam’s Club sells health insurance for individuals and businesses, and Costco offers health, dental, and vision plans to individuals and small groups, plus auto, home, life, and identity-theft insurance.
Costco and Sam’s Club stores often feature appearances by local authors, and some high-profile writers include the wholesale clubs on their book tours. People have lined up to meet Hillary Clinton at Sam’s Club, and cookbook author Danielle Walker ("Against All Grain") has done book signings at Costco. Even Cheapism’s own managing editor, Danny Jensen, has done signings at Costco for his book "100 Things to Do in Los Angeles Before You Die."
No discussion of member perks would be complete without mentioning the free samples. While some stores are shutting down the practice during the pandemic, the option to try before you buy is otherwise all but compulsory, given that most food items at warehouse clubs are available only in bulk sizes. Sampling the goods is also a way to discover new products (which, of course, is the store’s goal).
There was no arguing the value of Costco’s sheet cakes, at $18.99 for 48 pieces — but Costco has canceled the sheet cakes nationwide due to the pandemic. (A 10-inch round cake is available.) Costco and Sam’s Club offer other prepared foods, including take-and-bake pizzas, large sub sandwiches, premade salads, and more. Costco famously sells rotisserie chicken for only $5.
Both Sam’s Club and Costco offer car-buying services, allowing members to browse most every make and model imaginable. Prices don’t appear to be significantly cheaper than using other online auto-sales sites, but occasionally you can find some deals. If you’re in the market for a BMW, for example, showing your Costco membership card can result in an extra $500 or $1,000 off the price. Sam’s Club members can get similar members-only discounts on Jeeps.
Discounted Gift Cards
Sam’s Club members can buy gift cards for popular stores and restaurants at a 20% discount off the face value. For example, a bundle of two $25 Steak ‘n Shake gift cards costs just under $40. Costco members enjoy a similar discount on gift cards and also offers discount certificates and tickets for amusement parks, sporting events, and other attractions.
Although Costco is removing its in-store photo centers effective Feb. 14, you can order photo books, photo blankets, photo transfers (digital versions of existing prints), and more. Pricing is more than competitive. Costco offers a two-pack of 30-page 8×8 softcover photo books for $20 — more than $10 cheaper than a single one roughly the same size on Shutterfly (although Shutterfly offers a variety of deals throughout the year).