- Sam’s Club is one of America’s most popular bulk retailers.
- However, not everything on sale at Sam’s Club is the best deal you can get.
- We asked experts and searched the web for 24 products you should pick up at Sam’s Club, and 15 more that you should skip.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Buying in bulk can seem like a really great idea, especially when you’re having a party or have a large family to feed.
With a Sam’s Club membership, you can get great deals and discounts on hundreds of different products, including food, electronics, and even car tires and gasoline.
But just because you can buy it all in one place doesn’t mean you should.
We asked shopping and finance experts what the best deals were at Sam’s Club and what products you should simply pick up at other stores.
Here are 23 products you should definitely stock up on at Sam’s Club, and 16 more you should skip and get elsewhere.
The next time you need new tires for your car, the savings site Hip2Save recommends buying them at Sam’s Club.
“They have a huge stock of competitively-priced tires with an array of different brands to choose from,” the website wrote. “Plus, when you buy tires with your Sam’s Club membership, you’ll get the best ‘all-in’ price, or they will match it to give you the best deal.”
Skip: Variety cheesecake
$US14.98 for a variety cheesecake from Sam’s Club may seem like a good deal, but it pales in comparison to a similar cheesecake from Walmart for $US13.98, or a superior quality Cheesecake Factory-brand cheesecake from Target for $US15.99.
Buy: Paper towels
You can get 15 rolls of Member’s Mark Super Premium paper towels for the regular price of just $US18.24 at Sam’s Club. Compare that to the $US14.97 that you spend on a 12-pack of Walmart’s Great Value brand – that’s only a savings of a few cents per roll, but the more of them you buy, the more you save, and it’s unlikely that you’ll ever stop needing paper towels.
Jordan Page, family finance and frugal living expert, said bulk deals on soda might not be so great.
“Soda is the one thing people will tend to buy in crates from Costco or wherever, but you’re overpaying,” Page said. She advises to wait for your favourite soda to go on sale at your local grocery store, then stock up in smaller quantities.
Buy: Baby wipes
Buying baby wipes in bulk is a smart move for parents, because like diapers, they tend to get used pretty fast.
Sam’s Club customers consistently rave about Member’s Mark Premium 1,152-count baby wipes, which are priced at $US19.96 per box, or a little under $US0.02 per wipe, with some consumers claiming they work better than name brands.
“You could actually end up paying more in the long run for detergents like Tide if you choose to buy from Sam’s over the grocery store,” Mashed writer Joel Stice said. “This is especially true if you look for sales and use coupons when shopping for detergent at the grocery store.”
Buy: Snack foods
If you go through a lot of snacks, buying at Sam’s Club is a great call, as long as they are not snacks that expire quickly.
For example, a 40-count pack of Lance crackers costs just under $US7 at Sam’s Club, or around $US5.40 when there are Instant Savings available. Meanwhile, at Walmart, a 20-pack of the same crackers costs $US5.18, even with Rollback prices in effect. That’s almost double the cost.
Skip: Toilet paper
“Paper products are almost always cheaper at wholesale stores, except for toilet paper,” Stice wrote for Mashed. “It’s a product we use on a daily basis and these products are usually sold at discount prices everywhere.”
“When you factor in that toilet paper goes on sale at most grocery stores the first and third week of the month – plus any coupons you might have – it makes complete sense to skip this product on your next Sam’s shopping trip.”
Buy: Rotisserie chicken
“If you’ve never been to Sam’s Club, you’ll want to sign up for a membership just to try their delicious Member’s Mark rotisserie chickens,” Hip2Save recommends. “At just $US4.98 per 3-pound chicken, this is a steal compared to most other grocery stores (even Costco’s chicken is a penny more).”
According to Consumer Reports, buying electronics at Sam’s Club or other bulk retailers is not the best place to go if you want a good deal.
If you’re really looking to save money, it’s about knowing when to shop, not where. The best deals on electronics can be found in November, on or around Black Friday. If you’re looking for a new TV, shop right before or right after the Super Bowl.
Buy: Eggland’s Best eggs
At just $US3.08 for an 18-count package, Eggland’s Best large white eggs are a great deal at Sam’s Club, and they’re often not even available at other club stores like Costco. They’re also less expensive than they are at Walmart, where they cost $US3.84.
If you’ve got a home full of athletes, it may be worth it to buy your sports drinks in bulk. According to Hip2Save, there’s no better place to go than Sam’s Club.
“Save big on bulk drinks at Sam’s Club, like this variety pack of 28 12-oz. Gatorade bottles which regularly sells for $US12.98 – just $US0.46 per bottle. This is a penny less than Costco’s regular price of these drinks,” the site wrote.
Consumer Reports rated Costco’s Kirkland Signature bacon higher than Sam’s Club’s house brand.
“Our testers gave Kirkland Signature regular sliced bacon top marks in our latest bacon test. The strips crisped up nicely, with a balance of fat and meat flavours, complemented by wood smoke and a hint of sweetness,” the report said.
“Although you can find a variety of name-brand cereals at Sam’s Club and other warehouse clubs, it pays to look elsewhere for your breakfast,” Cheat Sheet writer Sheiresa Ngo wrote in 2018.
“Warehouse clubs usually don’t put cereal on sale, so the grocery store is your best bet. You can save even more money by using coupons.”
Skip: Party supplies
Don’t bother buying party supplies at Sam’s Club. For everything from disposable plates and utensils to decorations, you can go to Dollar Tree and get all of it in one place for much less.
“Shopping at Sam’s Club is all about looking for the best deals,” Stice wrote for Mashed. “A 10-pound bag of sugar can be bought for as low as $US5.48, which is around 15% to 20% less than what you would pay at traditional grocery stores. Sugar is also one of those products that you can keep almost indefinitely as long as it’s properly stored.”
Jackie Warrick, former chief savings officer and president at CouponCabin.com, told the “Today” show that even if you find designer clothing at warehouse clubs, you should be careful.
“If you spot your favourite designer clothing on the racks at a warehouse store, be wary,” she said. “Most famous designers make less expensive summer lines just for warehouse clubs and outlet stores – and these lines may be lower quality. So, if you want long-lasting, well-made clothing by top designers, shop elsewhere.”
Buy: Frozen food
“A single person might not need a 34-count of corn dogs for $US12, but that sort of deal is hard to pass up for a parent feeding a large family,” Stice said.
Skip: Books and DVDs
“It may be tempting to pick up that book or DVD at the warehouse store, but online retailers like Amazon typically have better prices,” Shuerman said.
“To save even more money, look at the used options on Amazon or eBay. Even better? You can now borrow digital versions of books for free from most libraries.”
Buying candy in bulk is sometimes a no-brainer, especially around Halloween or Easter, and according to Stice, there’s no better place to do so than Sam’s Club.
“Sam’s Club is a must for buying Halloween candy,” Stice said. “Customers can get their hands on sweets like 240 pieces of Mars variety chocolates or 325 pieces of Nestle chocolate for around $US15.”
Skip: Canned goods
Kiplinger editor Andrea Browne Taylor said you’re better off buying canned goods at grocery stores, where they are typically cheaper, more frequently on sale, and come in more realistic package sizes.
College students, parents of college students, and recent grads, rejoice. One of the cheapest meals out there just got cheaper.
“Coffee has a shelf life, and the quality will go down over time,” Simplemost writer Will Schuerman said. “While you can get good deals on coffee, in order to get those deals you likely will be buying too much to use it in the ideal time frame.”
Buy: Prescription drugs
“Many prescriptions are substantially cheaper through warehouses, so this can be a real boon to your budget,” Simple Dollar writer Trent Hamm told The Penny Hoarder. “For example, 100 pills that cost $US40 at Walmart may run just $US10 to $US12 at Sam’s Club. Surveys indicate you can save anywhere from 25% to 77% on many prescriptions at a warehouse.”
Skip: Beach chairs
You can get a good outdoor chair with all the bells and whistles for $US65.98 at Sam’s Club, and at better quality than the cheap ones at Target or CVS. However, you can also get chairs of a similar quality on Amazon for far less, and you have more options.
“Prices, of course, depend on location, but members of Sam’s Club can regularly save around $US0.10 a gallon at the pump,” Stice said. “And those who sign up for a Sam’s Club MasterCard can save an additional 5% cash back on gas on their first $US6,000.”
Grocery stores almost always have sales on pasta. You can often find a box for about $US1, and they usually have more diverse options than they do at Sam’s Club.
If you tend to cook meat frequently, buying in bulk and freezing it can be a smart move. And, according to Stephanie Nelson of The Coupon Mum via GoBankingRates, the meat is typically a higher grade than what is available at supermarkets.
Buy: Baked goods
You don’t need to go to an expensive bakery to get good baked goods for your next gathering – just head over to Sam’s Club. Its bakery items consistently score perfect or near-perfect online reviews.
According to the Huffington Post, you can save as much as $US1 per battery when buying at Sam’s Club.
Just remember to check the expiration date before purchasing. As long as that date is a few years away, you can stock up in bulk, and you won’t have that annoying feeling of running out of batteries again for a long while.
Buying toothpaste in bulk is a good idea, but Sam’s Club isn’t where you should go to get it. A five-pack of Colgate toothpaste is $US10.98 at Sam’s Club, but at Dollar Tree you can get 11 tubes of toothpaste for only a few cents more.
Buy: Gift cards
You probably don’t need to buy liquor in bulk for yourself, but if you’re having a big party or preparing for a wedding, buying alcohol by the case at Sam’s Club can save you a ton of money compared to buying it by the bottle at a liquor store or other vendor.
Skip: Frito-Lay multi-packs
At Sam’s Club, you can get a 30-count variety pack of Frito Lay chips for $US13.38, which seems like a good deal. That is, until you look at Amazon’s prices and see that a 28-count pack only costs $US9.98. Buying at Sam’s Club means you pay $US3.40 for only two extra bags of chips.
“Costco, Sam’s and BJ’s have high-quality suitcases for less,” Schuerman said.
“A two-piece Samsonite spinner set, including a 27-inch case and a carry-on, can be found at Sam’s Club for $US199. At other stores and on the Samsonite website, the 27-inch case alone can run you as much as $US550.”
You can buy a three-pound bag of almonds at Sam’s Club $US11.93. Compare that price to the $US8.99 that a one-pound bag costs at ShopRite, and it’s no contest. Nuts last a long time, so it’s safe to take those savings and buy in bulk.
Buy: Arm & Hammer baking soda
“On average, when you buy a bundle at a warehouse store, you’ll only end up paying $US0.85 per box. Use it for baking, cleaning and keeping your refrigerator fresh. It doesn’t spoil, so it’s fine to stock up.”
Buy: Movie tickets
“After some popcorn and soda, going to the movies can cost you a fortune,” Schuerman said. “You can get vouchers for movie tickets at Sam’s Club for much cheaper. You can also buy snacks there and sneak them in your purse.”