🔒 Don’t shop in bulk? These Costco, Sam’s Club perks might make a membership worthwhile anyway

A shopper inside a Costco store in September 2022. (Amanda Cochran/Ana Gonzalez, Copyright 2022 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

HOUSTON – Wholesalers like Costco and Sam’s Club appeal to shoppers because they give members the ability to buy in bulk, which can mean securing better per-item prices that can lead to significant savings. But what if bulk buying doesn’t work for you?

Costco and Sam’s Club offer members perks that might make a wholesaler membership worthwhile -- even if you never set foot in a store.


How much is a Costco membership?

People shop for groceries ahead of Thanksgiving at Costco Wholesale in East Harlem on November 24, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images) (2020 Noam Galai)

The standard Gold Star membership is $60 annually while the Executive membership is $120 annually. Members at both these tiers receive one household card, valid at all of Costco’s locations, and access to Costco gas stations and other member-only benefits and services. Gold Star Executive members get additional benefits, including an annual 2% reward (up to $1,000) on qualifying Costco, Costco.com, and Costco Travel purchases.

Executive members receive additional travel benefits, lower prices on check printing and auto buying, as well as roadside assistance for vehicles covered through Costco’s Auto Insurance program. Members who upgrade for a partial year will be charged a prorated upgrade fee.

Executive members must spend $6,000 a year to make up the cost of the $120 membership fee using the annual 2% reward.

Teachers, college students, medical professionals, first responders, and retired and active military members are eligible to receive a $20-30 Costco Shop gift card when they purchase an annual membership.


Costco membership services

Discounted fuel

Costco members benefit from the wholesaler’s comparatively low fuel prices. Gas at a Houston Costco station cost $3.23 per gallon on Aug. 19. On the same day, the metro average for a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.46.

Tire installation packages

Costco’s prices on tires are wholesale and include all the associated shipping and handling costs. The installation package includes lifetime maintenance services like inflation pressure checks, tire balancing, tire rotations, and flat repairs. Additionally, Costco inflates its tires with nitrogen, not compressed air. Nitrogen retains tire pressure better over time than compressed air, which can positively impact the life of the tires. Finally all tires purchased through Costco are backed with a road hazard warranty protecting customers against tread wear damage and tire failure, meaning Costco will replace any tires damaged during standard legal vehicle operation.

Costco Travel

Costco members have exclusive access to the wholesaler’s travel service, which uses its buying power to negotiate low rates on vacation packages, cruises, hotel stays, car rentals and more. The Wall Street Journal reported members can save an estimated 10% to 30% on on luxury hotel stays.

Costco Concierge Services

Costco Concierge Services is a free technical support center available to Costco members who have purchased select electronics or appliances from Costco.

Home product-installation discounts

Members who use on of Costco’s home installation service partners will receive a Costco Shop Card worth 10% of the cost of the service.

Insurance

Costco offers its members discounted home and auto insurance to members through CONNECT, powered by American Family Insurance. Costco said members who used CONNECT reported an average of $587.17 in savings the first year they switched.

Costco Anywhere Visa card

Costco members have exclusive access to the Costco Anywhere Visa card, a Citi credit card with a rewards program. Costco Anywhere Visa cardholders receive 4% cash back on eligible gas purchases up to $7,000 per year, 3% cash back on restaurants and eligible travel expense and 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Return policy

Costco has a generous return policy. You can return nearly anything at any time. Costco will even cancel and refund your membership fee at any point if you’re dissatisfied.


How much is a Sam’s Club membership?

ROLLING MEADOWS, IL - JANUARY 12: A shopping cart sits in the parking lot of a Sam's Club store January 12, 2010 in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images) (2010 Getty Images)

A standard membership comes with a membership card, the ability to share your membership with someone in your household, as well as the opportunity to add on extra memberships for $40 a year. Member-only benefits include access to low members-only prices at Sam’s Club locations, and access to Sam’s Club Tire & Battery centers and gas stations.

The higher-tier Sam’s Club Plus membership includes access to additional perks, including the opportunity to earn 2% in cash rewards (up to $500 a year) on qualifying purchases, free shipping on online orders, free curbside pickup, pharmacy savings and discounts on eyeglass frames and lenses.

Students and active or former U.S. military receive a $10 gift card when they sign up.


Sam’s Club membership services

Discounted fuel

Sam’s Club members benefit from the wholesaler’s comparatively low fuel prices. Regular unleaded gas at a Houston Sam’s Club station cost $3.05 per gallon on Aug. 30. On the same day, the metro average for a gallon of regular gasoline was $3.32.

Travel and entertainment

Sam’s club members can purchase tickets for theme parks, attractions, shows, events, concerts, and movies at low prices through Sam’s Travel & Entertainment. Members can also book hotels, rental cars and other travel deals at negotiated member only prices. For many events, Sam’s Club reserves seats before tickets become available to the general public, meaning Sam’s Club members receive preferred seating.

View Houston-area travel and entertainment deals here. As of this writing, notable Houston-area deals include preferred access tickets to Houston Texans and Astros games, a 33% discount on tickets to Schlitterbahn Waterpark Galveston, and discounted member pricing at some of Houston’s most popular hotels. For example, a Friday night stay in an executive suite at Hotel Granduca, a five-star luxury hotel consistently listed among the best in the state, costs $300 for Sam’s Club members -- $119 less than the $419 nightly rate offered on the hotel’s website.

Sam’s Club Tire & Battery Center Services

As of this writing, Sam’s Club Tire & Battery Centers offer members these free services:

  • Sam’s Club offers all its members free tire repair as a member benefit regardless of where the tires were purchased.
  • Wiper blade installation
  • Battery check
  • Battery installation
  • Tire air pressure and tread-depth check
  • Balance and rotation

Tires installed at Sam’s Club qualify for lifetime maintenance services including balancing, rotation, and flat repair and access to emergency roadside assistance for three years from the date of tire purchase.

Sam’s Club Mastercard

Sam’s Club members have exclusive access to the Sam’s Club Mastercard, a credit card with a rewards program. Sam’s Club Mastercard cardholders receive 5% cash back on eligible gas purchases up to $6,000 per year, 3% cash back on restaurants and 1% cash back on all other purchases.


🛒 Shoppers, sound off: Do you have a wholesale club membership? How often do you use it? What are the pros and cons? Help your fellow Houstonians out -- Share your experiences and insights in the comment section.

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About the Author:

Briana Zamora-Nipper joined the KPRC 2 digital team in 2019. When she’s not hard at work in the KPRC 2 newsroom, you can find Bri drinking away her hard earned wages at JuiceLand, running around Hermann Park, listening to crime podcasts or ransacking the magazine stand at Barnes & Noble.