Sam’s Club claims to make savings simple by offering quality products at incredible values. No doubt, there are plenty of deals at this warehouse club. But not everything is a bargain — especially when you consider that you have to pay an annual membership fee of $45 or $100 to take advantage of the bulk pricing at Sam’s Club.
To pinpoint the best and worst buys, GOBankingRates surveyed prices at Sam’s Club and asked savings experts to weigh in. To make sure you get the most from Sam’s Club, take advantage of these 15 best buys and avoid these 15 items you can get a better deal on elsewhere.
15 Best Sam’s Club Deals
If you want to maximize your savings, here are Sam’s Club deals you should snag.
No. 1 Best Deal: Sam’s Club Alcohol
You can stock your bar for less at Sam’s Club. You can expect to save up to 30 percent off wine and spirits from Sam’s Club or adjacent liquor stores in states that don’t allow in-club sales of liquor, said Kendal Perez, savings expert for CouponSherpa.com. Plus, you don’t need a membership to shop in the Sam’s Club liquor stores.
If you think buying store brand wine is a no-no, think again. Sam’s Club recently worked with award-winning wineries to unveil its own private-label brand of Chardonnay, Riesling and Cabernet. A bottle of Sam’s Club Member’s Mark Chardonnay, with a 92-point rating from the Beverage Tasting Institute, sells for $8.
Get Started: How to Get a Sam’s Club Membership
No. 2 Best Deal: Sam’s Club Batteries
You don’t want to be caught without batteries, especially at 2 a.m. when one of the fire alarms in your house starts chirping because the battery is low. That’s why it’s a good idea to buy them in bulk at Sam’s Club.
Plus, it’s a smart financial move, Perez said. “You can save up to $1 per battery by purchasing them from Sam’s Club compared to grocery stores.”
You can also buy car batteries from Sam’s Club. If your local store doesn’t have the right type of battery that you need, you can shop online for specialized car batteries to be shipped to your home, free of charge.
No. 3 Best Deal: Sam’s Club Tires
Driving your tires until they’re bald might save you money, but it’s a dangerous practice. Thanks to Sam’s Club, though, you can be safe on the road with quality tires.
Not only does Sam’s Club offer name brand tires, they can make recommendations on the best type of tire for your car and even install them. If you prefer to shop online, you can order tires through their website and within 3-5 days, your new tires will arrive in the store. To have your new tires installed, simply walk into the store or schedule a service appointment.
No. 4 Best Deal: Sam’s Club Flowers
You can save money by buying fresh flowers at Sam’s Club rather than the florist or supermarket. “In many locations, you can buy two dozen roses for the same price that most stores charge for one dozen,” said Lindsay Sakraida, director of content marketing with DealNews. “If you’re someone who likes fresh flowers at home, or if this is a common gift purchase, then those savings add up over time.”
No. 5 Best Deal: Sam’s Club Frozen Fruit
If you love smoothies, you can make them for less by buying frozen fruit in bulk from Sam’s Club. For example, at Sam’s Wholesale, you can get a 5-pound bag of frozen strawberries for $9.98 per pound. However, you’ll pay $3.99 for a 1-pound bag at Kroger.
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No. 6 Best Deal: Sam’s Club Gift Cards
Sam’s Club gift cards are a great deal because you can get many of them for less than face value. “Not every gift card is discounted, but most are at least by a couple dollars,” said Josh Elledge, founder of coupon site SavingsAngel.com. “You can often save even more when you buy them in gift packs of two or more.”
Sam’s Club offers gift cards from a variety of retailers and restaurants. For example, it recently was selling a two-pack $25 Zaxby’s gift cards for $39.98. “That’s 20 percent off, ” Elledge said.
No. 7 Best Deal: Sam’s Club Gourmet Cheese
If you’re a cheese lover — as Perez and her husband are — you can save money buying it in bulk at Sam’s Club. “Mini Babybel cheeses are a favorite and cost about 10 cents less each at Sam’s Club compared to our local Walmart,” Perez said. And a 2-pound block of Tillamook Extra Sharp cheddar cheese costs $9.98 at Sam’s Club compared to $12.84 for the same block from Walmart, she said.
No. 8 Best Deal: Sam’s Club Meat
Because meat can be frozen, you don’t have to worry about buying it in bulk. You can store what you can’t eat immediately. And the prices on Sam’s Club meat are tough to beat — even when supermarkets have sales.
For example, ground chuck sells for $2.98 per pound at Sam’s Club. However, the price per pound was still $1 higher at Kroger during a recent sale. And Kroger strip steaks were $9.99 per pound on sale — $2 more per pound than strip steaks at Sam’s Club.
No. 9 Best Deal: Sam’s Club Over-the-Counter Medication
It’s hard to beat Sam’s Club prices on over-the-counter medication. For example, a bottle of Advil with 360 tablets costs $17.32 at Sam’s versus $18.79 for a 300-count bottle at Target. However, you’ll save even more buying generic medications.
“You can save a ton of money by buying generic allergy meds at Sam’s Club compared to Claritin or Zyrtec,” Sakraida said. “Generic options cost about 4 cents per pill, while the branded pills are closer to 38 cents per pill. If you’re buying a 100 pill pack, that’s a difference of $34.”
No. 10 Best Deal: Sam’s Club Pet Supplies
If you have pets, take advantage of discounted bulk pricing on supplies for your fur babies at Sam’s. For example, Sam’s Club dog food prices are lower than what you pay at other stores — $22.98 for a 57-pound of Purina Dog Chow at Sam’s versus $27.99 for a 50-pound bag at Walmart.
Other pet supplies also are a good deal. “I have two large-breed dogs, and we typically pay $20 or less for large pet beds at Sam’s Club,” Perez said. “That’s compared to $50 or more from pet stores.”
No. 11 Best Deal: Sam’s Club Razors
If you use disposable razors, you can save big by buying them in bulk at Sam’s Club. For example, you can get a 52-pack of Gillette Sensor two-blade razors for $29.98 at Sam’s. A 10-pack of the same razors sold at Walmart costs $7.97, but you’d need to buy five packs for a total of $39.85 to get as many as the bulk package at Sam’s.
And if you bought a 16-pack of Bic Soleil razors for women at Sam’s for $14.88, you’d pay 25 cents less per razor than if you bought an eight-pack for $9.47 at Walmart.
No. 12 Best Deal: Sam’s Club Rotisserie Chicken
“Sam’s Club is, by far, one of the best places to buy a whole, ready-to-eat roaster chicken, ” Elledge said. It sells them for less than $5 in most areas, and the chickens are typically around three pounds each. “This makes a great, inexpensive main course for a family meal without paying the normally high cost of most ready-to-eat foods,” he said.
No. 13 Best Deal: Sam’s Club Spices
If you use a lot of seasonings when cooking, a Sam’s Club membership can save you money if you buy your spices at this warehouse club. Not all of the containers are massive, so you don’t necessarily have to worry about not being able to use all of the spices before they lose their flavor.
For example, you can get a 5-ounce container of oregano at Sam’s for $3.98, which is about 80 cents per ounce. You’ll pay more than four times as much per ounce for a 0.75-ounce container that costs $2.68, or $3.57 per ounce, at Walmart.
No. 14 Best Deal: Sam’s Club TVs
“If you’re looking for a big-screen, high-end TV, then Sam’s Club is one of your best bets for a deal,” Sakraida said. The DealNews team often finds big-screen TVs with the latest technologies and 4K resolution from LG, Samsung, Sharp and Vizio marked down several hundred dollars at Sam’s. “In many cases, the savings are so great that it’s worth buying a Sam’s Club membership just to get a TV,” Sakraida said.
No. 15 Best Deal: Sam’s Club Toilet Paper
If you don’t need super-soft toilet paper, the POM brand is a great value at Sam’s Club, Elledge said. “At about $20, you can get a large box of 45 rolls, and each has 473 two-ply sheets per roll,” Elledge said. “Compare that to paying $5 to $7 for just nine smaller rolls at the grocery store. ”
Even soft toilet paper from brands such as Charmin is a better deal at Sam’s. You can buy a box with 45 rolls (with 183 sheets per roll) of Charmin Ultra Soft for $22.48 at Sam’s Club. On sale, the price of a package of 12 Charmin Ultra Soft rolls (with 284 sheets per roll) was recently $14.99 – marked down from $16.99. But you’d have to buy two packages for $29.98 to get even close to the same number of sheets in the Sam’s Club package.
15 Worst Sam’s Club Deals
When you’re rolling your cart through the aisles of Sam’s Club, considering passing on these 15 items.
No. 1 Worst Deal: Sam’s Club Books
New releases and bestsellers often make their way to Sam’s Club for less than what you would find at Barnes & Noble, said Sarah Hollenbeck, shopping and savings expert at Offers.com. “But if you are on the hunt for an even better deal, check online stores like Amazon,” she said. “You can often find the newest books from hundreds of sellers for less.”
No. 2 Worst Deal: Sam’s Club Luggage
The good news: Sam’s Club has high-quality suitcases, said Slickdeals savings expert Regina Conway. The bad news: They’re more expensive than using an online coupon code at another retailer.
“Macy’s, for example, has a two-piece Samsonite luggage set comparable to the warehouse clubs for a lower price,” she said. “Coupled with a coupon code for 15 to 20 percent off available at Slickdeals.net, the savings are even greater.” Macy’s is frequently a great place to buy luggage sets.
No. 3 Worst Deal: Sam’s Club CDs and DVDs
CDs and DVDs are among the worst things to buy at Sam’s club. “Not only is the selection of these items at Sam’s Club scattered, but cost for these items can be found much cheaper at stores like Walmart, Target and Best Buy,” said Brent Shelton, a shopping expert with retail news source DealCrunch. The deals for older titles are even better at other retailers, especially during Black Friday when titles can be bought as low as $1.96 each, Shelton said.
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No. 4 Worst Deal: Sam’s Club Canned Goods
You can find a better deal on canned goods at the supermarket during sales, Perez said. For example, Kroger marks 15.5-ounce cans of pinto and other beans down to 49 cents during sales. At Sam’s Club, you can get a 12-pound can of pinto beans for $7.34 – or 61 cents for 16 ounces. Not only is the price higher per ounce at Sam’s Club, but also you’re stuck with a really big can of beans.
No. 5 Worst Deal: Sam’s Club Clothing
Sam’s Club should not be your go-to spot for clothing. Instead, follow these strategies to save money on clothes. Although it sells discounted brand-name apparel, you might not get much bang for your buck. “Designers often send their low-selling and low-quality products to bulk-stores like Sam’s Club to get rid of extra inventory,” Hollenbeck said. “So more often than not, you end up getting designer duds that won’t last nearly as long as their more-expensive counterparts.”
You’ll find better deals on brand-name apparel at Kohl’s, Macy’s, JCPenney and other department stores,” Shelton said.
Even the everyday essentials Sam’s Club sells aren’t bargains. “Their pricing for t-shirts, sweatshirts, sweaters, shoes and sandals are usually higher than what you’ll find at Walmart, Target and Sears,” Shelton said.
No. 6 Worst Deal: Sam’s Club Laptops
These days, just about everybody sells computers, so it’s tough to know which deals are the best. Sam’s Club might not be your first choice, said Benjamin Glaser, DealNews.com editor emeritus. Rarely, if ever, does Sam’s Club come through with the best deals on laptops.
No. 7 Worst Deal: Sam’s Club Condiments
You usually can get condiments, packaged mixes and salad dressings for less during grocery store sales, especially when you stack manufacturer’s coupons, Perez said. “Expect to pay up to 40 percent less with the sale-coupon combo for these items at grocery stores compared to Sam’s Club,” she said.
Plus, you won’t have to worry about consuming your condiments quickly if you get a smaller container from the supermarket versus a large bottle or jar from Sam’s Club.
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No. 8 Worst Deal: Sam’s Club Diapers
Diapers can hammer a budget faster than a nursery add-on, so you might be inclined to stock up. But Sam’s Club diapers aren’t the lowest priced option available. Diapers are among the items that are cheaper at Target — and you don’t need a membership to shop at Target.
For example, you can get a box of 222 up & up diapers for $28.99 at Target. A box of 224 Member’s Mark diapers at Sam’s costs $38.94.
No. 9 Worst Deal: Sam’s Club Eggs
There’s no need to buy a large package of eggs at Sam’s when you can get the same amount for less at Walmart. An 18-count package of eggs costs $3.63 at Sam’s Club. But you can get a carton with 18 eggs at Walmart for just 70 cents.
No. 10 Worst Deal: Sam’s Club Fresh Produce
Buying produce in bulk can be a risky proposition unless you have a big family or a big appetite for fruits and vegetables. “Unless you’re in charge of bringing the fruit salad or a veggie platter for a party of 100, it’s better to purchase in-season produce from grocery stores,” Perez said.
Then you can limit your purchase to the amount you think you’ll actually consume. And you’ll likely pay a lower price for seasonal produce at the supermarket than at Sam’s. For example, the cost of strawberries per pound at Sam’s — $2.99 — was almost twice as much as the recent sale price for strawberries at Kroger — $1.66 per pound. And asparagus cost more than twice as much per pound at Sam’s than at Kroger.
No. 11 Worst Deal: Sam’s Club Furniture
Furniture isn’t one of the best deals at Sam’s Club. You’ll likely find better prices at independent furniture stores, Hollenbeck said. “Smaller independent sellers will often allow you to negotiate the prices, especially if you are buying multiple items or a matching set,” she said.
Plus, you’ll likely find a better selection at furniture stores because Sam’s Club stores don’t have the space to offer a large number of items or multi-item matching sets. “So you’re more likely to walk out the door with an impulse-buy lounge chair,” Hollenbeck said about buying furniture at Sam’s. “Had you shopped around at other stores, you may have been able to get a better price on a similar chair — and on other items that actually coordinate with it.”
No. 12 Worst Deal: Sam’s Club Milk
You actually can get a better deal on milk at the other store under the same corporate ownership as Sam’s Club — Walmart. At Walmart, you can get a gallon of milk for $1.18. At Sam’s Club, it will cost you $1.62. The 44-cent difference can add up quickly if you frequently buy milk.
No. 13 Worst Deal: Sam’s Club Pasta
Pasta might seem like a good item to buy in bulk because it won’t go bad quickly. But you won’t save money buying it at Sam’s Club. A six-pack of 1-pound boxes of pasta sells for $7.92 at Sam’s — or $1.32 per box. However, you can get 1-pound boxes of both Kroger and Walmart store brand pasta for just $1.
No. 14 Worst Deal: Sam’s Club Soda
You likely won’t save money buying soda in bulk at Sam’s Club. You can get a much better deal at the supermarket if you stock up during sales. “Shop soda sales at your local grocery store for prices ranging from $2 to $2.50 per 12-pack, versus spending up to $8 per 24-pack from Sam’s Club,” Perez said.
No. 15 Worst Deal: Sam’s Club Toothpaste
You’ll get a better deal on toothpaste at the dollar store than at Sam’s Club. For example, Sam’s Club sells a five-pack of Colgate toothpaste for $10.98. That’s about $2.20 per tube. At Dollar Tree, you can get a tube of Colgate for just $1.
About the Author
Cameron Huddleston is an award-winning journalist with nearly 14 years of experience writing about personal finance. Before joining GOBankingRates, she was a contributing editor for Kiplinger.com and wrote the popular Kip Tips column, which was syndicated in Tribune newspapers nationwide. Her work has appeared on Yahoo!, MSN, AOL Daily Finance and other online and print publications.