5 Reasons BJ's Wholesale Club Is Better Than Costco
Warehouse clubs pride themselves on offering customers a unique shopping experience. Where else can you purchase snacks in bulk, score free samples, and get an eye exam in the same space?
Although retail giants like Costco and BJ's share several similarities, there are some elements that set them apart from each other. Costco boasts 587 locations across the United States, topping BJ's portfolio of 237 stores, largely concentrated along the East Coast. But more parts of the country will soon have access to BJ's than ever before, as the Marlborough, Mass.-based retailer plans to expand its presence to 20 states nationwide.
If you are considering a warehouse club membership—or are even thinking about switching clubs—here are some reasons why BJ's might be a more appealing option for you.
Lower membership fees
Costco's entry-level Gold Star membership currently costs $60 per year, while BJ's standard Club membership is slightly cheaper at $55. Occasionally, BJ's will even sell discounted memberships for new customers, with the wholesale club currently offering its $55 Club Card for $25. Costco, however, does not offer free or discounted memberships, as written on its website.
For those seeking an upgrade, Costco's Executive membership card costs $120 per year. BJ's Club+ Card membership comes in at $110. Both Costco and BJ's standard and upgraded memberships include one complimentary card for an additional household member.
Unlike Costco and Sam's Club, BJ's accepts manufacturer's coupons, which means shoppers can save on name brands like Cheerios, Oreo, and Nature Valley. As highlighted on BJ's website, manufacturer coupons can be "stacked" with the wholesale club's coupons under certain conditions.
Meanwhile, Costco notes on its website that it doesn't accept these types of coupons because the retail chain distributes its own offers and savings to members by mail and in-store throughout the year. The retail giant adds that manufacturers "often will simply 'load' the cost of a coupon program into the original pricing of their product," writing that it "ultimately doesn't provide any advantage to the member." However, because BJ's allows shoppers to combine coupons, there are ample opportunities to save money.
To bypass checkout lines, BJ's offers a scan-and-go payment method called ExpressPay, which is available in the majority of its club locations. Once logged into BJ's mobile app, customers can scan their items' barcodes and add them to their cart, apply digital coupons, and pay within the app. Before leaving the wholesale club, shoppers just need to present a QR code receipt at the door. This feature is limited to transactions of up to 20 items and cannot be used to for certain purchases, such as gift cards, alcohol, cigarettes, and security-protected items.
Costco, on the other hand, does not have a scan-and-go option. The warehouse club does have self-checkout lanes at select locations and "may expand to more warehouses in the future," according to the company's website.
Although a store's level of crowdedness is often dependent on the time of day, BJ's has been said to be less hectic than Costco. Plus, offering ExpressPay is likely to help facilitate the overall checkout process. "Anecdotally, BJ's stores tend to be less crowded than Costco," according to coupon platform RebateKey. A 2022 report by Insider concurred, "BJ's check-out process is far calmer, friendlier, and less brisk and militant."
Despite Costco and BJ's not having standardized hours across all of their stores, BJ's has been known to stay open later. Take the BJ's locations in Brooklyn, N.Y., for example, which are open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays. Meanwhile, Costco's Brooklyn location is open from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturdays, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. So, if you're an early riser or a late-night shopper, BJ's might be the warehouse club for you.
Correction: May 4, 2023