Sam's Club vs. Costco: Store brand match-up

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Sam's Club vs. Costco prices
The battle between discount membership club rivals Costco and Sam’s Club is intense but who offers the best prices when it comes specifically to generic or store brand products?  We explore prescription drugs, food and paper products.

Prescription Drugs

The good news on both fronts is that Costco and Sam’s Club open their pharmacies to nonmembers. There’s no need for an annual membership to receive discounts.

But when comparing prices on some of the most popular drugs, Costco is the clear winner. For example, a month supply of Atorvastatin, the generic form of Lipitor, which helps lower cholesterol, costs about $45 at Sam’s and just $16 at Costco, a 50% difference.

Also See: Target v. Whole Foods: Who Offers the Best Organic Prices?

And a 30-day supply of the generic form of Actos to help with type 2 diabetes costs about $108 at Sam’s Club.  Costco offers the exact prescription for about $17, a savings of nearly 90%.

Also See: Top Over the Counter Drugs for Every Symptom

Why the huge price discrepancy? Costco tells us that it negotiates directly and aggressively with drug manufacturers to strike the lowest prices.

Check out a broader comparison of drugs in our table below.

Costco: GENERIC
Brand name: Lipitor - $212 Atorvastatin GFX $16.39
Lowers bad cholesterol
20 milligrams 30 pills
Sam’s: GENERIC Brand name: Lipitor - $261.84 Atorvastatin $44.62
20 milligrams 30 pills
Costco: GENERIC Brand name: Actos - $402.33 Pioglitazone GFX $17.10
Treats type 2 diabetes
30 milligrams 30 pills
Sam’s: GENERIC Brand name: Actos - $470.62 Pioglitazone $107.54
Costco: GENERIC Brand name: Lexapro - $181.41 Escitalopram GFX $9.30
Treats depression
20 milligrams 30 pills
Sam’s: GENERIC Brand name: Lexapro - $212.68 Escitalopram $ 57.08
Costco: GENERIC Brand name: Singulair - $185.69 Monntelukast  GFX $27.49
Treats asthma
5 milligrams 30 pills
Sam’s: GENERIC Brand name: Singulair - $202.84 Monntelukast $44.72
Costco: GENERIC Brand name: Plavix - $205.45 Clopidogrel GFX $13.25
Blood thinner
75 millgram 30 pills
Sam’s: GENERIC Brand name: Plavix - $225.78 Clopidogrel $34.46 

Food
Costco’s only generic line “Kirkland Signature” offers an array of high quality choices at affordable prices. Sam’s Club, on the other hand, is a “club of many brands.” From its original core generic label “Member's Mark,” Sam’s Club has expanded to now offer category-specific private brands such as Artisan Fresh, Daily Chef and Simply Right, to name a few.

Finding apples to apples comparisons was difficult and sales are constantly changing but we did find these head to head comparisons. 

Sam’s Artisan Fresh Chicken Salad goes for $4.78 per pound, a little bit cheaper than Costco’s Kirkland brand for $4.99 per pound.

If you’re shopping for boneless, skinless chicken breast Sam’s Club offers a 12-pack for a $1.99 per pound. At Costco, as 12-pack of the Kirkland signature fridge-to-freezer chicken breast goes for $2.99 a pound.

Also See: Kids’ Taste Test: Generic v. Brand Name

In this battle we choose Sam’s Club for offering a greater variety of store-brand food choices and, in some cases, lower prices. And based on a few taste tests, the Artisan Fresh options are quite tasty!

Paper Products
We compare Costco’s “Kirkland Signature” with Sam’s Club’s “Member’s Mark.” 

Costco’s Kirkland Signature Bath Tissue costs $14.99 compared to Sam’s Club Members Mark at $14.98, pretty much the same. But when it comes to paper towels Coscto’s Kirkland Signature costs 50 cents per roll, while Sam’s Club Members Mark is 37 cents per roll.

Cost per unit Sam’s wins, but as we know with many paper products, personal preference goes a long way. You’ll have to try this one at home!

To recap Costco wins in the generic drug category with savings of up to 90%. For quality paper products and food, hit up Sam’s Club.

What’s your favorite discount membership club? Tweet me @Farnoosh and use the hashtag #FinFit.

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