10 Things You’re Buying at Costco That Are Cheaper at BJ’s
Are you really saving as much as you can? If you're not shopping at BJ's for these items, the answer is no.
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How to hold onto more of your hard-earned cash
If there’s nothing you love more than a great bargain, there’s a solid chance that your wallet contains one or even two of your favorite cards in the world: Costco and BJ’s Wholesale Club membership cards. These two cards grant you access to a slew of bargain prices on everything from cartons of milk and eggs to paper-towel rolls and even car tires. But, contrary to what some shoppers might think, Costco and BJ’s are not one and the same. These wholesale-shopping warehouses provide amazing deals, but not necessarily on the same products and services, says shopping and savings expert Tasia Boland of My BJs Wholesale. So, how can you score even bigger and better savings? By not buying the following items at Costco and instead, buying them cheaper at BJ’s. And once you know about these smart swaps, make sure you’re buying some other items at Costco.
Note: Prices listed were accurate as of press time; pricing fluctuations may occur.
If you’re used to buying cereal at a regular grocery store, you already know that the prices for the smallest box of corn flakes can be astronomical—especially if you prefer recognizable brands like Kellogg’s and General Mills. While you might get a deal at Costco, you won’t get as much of a deal as you will at BJ’s. “Name-brand items like Kellogg’s cereal are so much cheaper at BJ’s,” Boland says. “BJ’s also takes manufacturer coupons that Costco won’t take, one coupon per item. And it sends out a monthly booklet with coupons, or you can go to the website or app and download them.” The bottom line: By the time you’ve armed yourself with manufacturer coupons and BJ’s coupons, a 55-ounce box of Honey Nut Cheerios will be a lot cheaper than its $7.99 price tag. Don’t miss these other secrets no one tells you about shopping at BJ’s.
Brand loyalty usually wins when customers are shopping for hair-care products like shampoo, conditioner, and specialty items like dry shampoo. BJ’s stocks up on a number of major hair-care brands, including Garnier, Dove, Nexxus, and L’Oreal, but this is the store where you’re also more likely to find “cult” favorites like Batiste Dry Shampoo (you can snag two bottles for less than $11) and OGX Thick & Full Biotin & Collagen Shampoo ($9.99). As with all name-brand products, BJ’s honors one manufacturer coupon per big-name product, but also be sure to shop for these items when you can find a BJ’s coupon to add on for even more amazing savings.
Diapers can cost a small fortune. But when parents attempt to cut corners on these baby essentials, they often end up with flimsy diapers that fall apart at the seams…which is especially unfortunate during those midnight diaper changes. “A lot of people on our Facebook group love BJ’s brand diapers, and they are really cheap,” says Boland. “Plus, there is frequently a coupon for diapers.”
BJ’s diaper brand is called Berkley Jensen, and a 112-count box costs just $15.99. Compare that to the price of Costco’s Kirkland-brand diapers, where you’ll get 120 size-6 diapers for $35.99. Even better, as with all BJ’s brands, if you aren’t satisfied with the quality, you can return the diapers for a 100 percent money-back guarantee, even if you no longer have the receipt. That said, these are the best Kirkland items you should always buy at Costco.
Toilet paper is a difficult product to get right when you’re shopping for bargains. Over at Costco, 48 rolls of Marathon Bath Tissue cost $31.99, which, when compared to name brands, is a sweet bargain. But BJ’s Berkley Jensen Ultra Soft Bath Tissue has an even more impressive price tag: A 36-pack of the two-ply bathroom tissue costs just $18.99. Plus, it’s a stellar product that doesn’t compromise on quality, says Boland. In fact, the item won the Good Housekeeping award for Best of Test in 2017, securing its spot as a far better paper-goods purchase than most of the ones you’ll find at similar bargain shops. Clear a spot in your basement and get ready to stock up!
Do you love whipping up smoothies and shakes with a healthy protein powder? The cost for powders can vary wildly, and stores don’t always have a great selection. At BJ’s, though, prices range from about $15 for the Fit Crunch brand to $30 for Orgain Organic Protein. “Protein powder is always a great deal at BJ’s,” Boland says. “You can get a 28.7-ounce container of Vega Protein powder for $30. At a place like Target, it’s half the size.” And over at Costco, you can get a recognizable and trusted brand like Orgain Organic Protein Powder at a comparable price, but what you won’t find is an option to buy something cheaper. You can expect to pay around $30 or more for protein powders at Costco, and the shop doesn’t offer a money-saving brand like Fit Crunch. Here are another 25 Costco secrets employees won’t tell you.
Kitty litter and pet food
Pet owners may love their fur babies so much that they’re willing to spend a bit more to know they are being properly cared for—but that doesn’t mean they have to break the bank on every pet expense. When it comes to purchasing kitty litter and dog food, you’ll find deals at BJ’s that aren’t available at Costco. For example, a 42-pound bag of Scoop Away Complete Performance cat litter at Costco costs $22.69. A 40-pound of Berkley Jensen cat litter at BJ’s is just $9.99.
Costco’s dog-food brands range in price from $24.99 for a 20-pound bag of Kirkland Signature kibble to $62.99 for a 38-pound bag of Blue Buffalo adult dog food. But over at BJ’s, you can save quite a bit of money by opting for the store’s own Berkley Jensen dry dog food; a 50-pound bag costs as little as $19.99. Find out more about the real cost of owning a dog.
Sometimes you have no choice but to pay extra for a formula that addresses an infant’s lactose sensitivity or other allergies and concerns. But when it comes to simply comparing the prices of similar formulas sold at BJ’s and Costco, BJ’s comes out at top, according to Boland. BJ’s Berkley Jensen Non-GMO Infant Formula costs $24.99 for 48 ounces, while Costco’s Kirkland Infant Formula is priced at $18.99 for a 34-ounce container. At the end of the day, you will spend 3 cents less per ounce on BJ’s formula—and when you have a baby, every penny counts.
BJ’s has launched a relatively new octane gas program that is bound to impress if you’re a regular customer. When you purchase specific items that have been marked with a symbol, you get savings on your BJ’s membership card that translate to incredible amounts of money off the next time you scan your card and purchase gas at BJ’s. “You can pay as low as 2 cents per gallon,” Boland says. The products that are marked with this gas-saving symbol change every three weeks, so be sure to check out the BJ’s booklet ahead of time so that you can make the most of this program.
Costco has a Gasoline Cash Back Rewards program, but you only get those rewards if you’re a Costco Anywhere Visa cardholder. With this card, you can receive 4 percent cash back on eligible gas purchases, including Costco gas, for the first $7,000 in gas purchases per year (then it drops to 1 percent cash back). Sounds great if you’re a Visa cardholder—not so great if you’re not.
Spending big bucks on tiny packages of crackers or pretzels that your children can inhale in seconds at school always feels like the biggest waste of money. But as long as those busy, hectic days require an in-between snack, you might as well stock up on the most affordable options. BJ’s own Wellsley Farms Animal Crackers come in a 45-ounce container for $4.99, according to Boland. Over at Costco, a 64-ounce container of Kirkland Animal Crackers costs $9.99. This works out to a difference of 4 cents less per ounce when you opt for the BJ’s brand. Learn some fascinating facts about animal crackers. Oh and, read up on the organic foods nutritionists don’t waste their money on, too.
A membership card
If it’s within your budget, by all means, it’s worth purchasing both a BJ’s and Costco card because, according to Boland, where one is lacking, the other is strong. For example, Costco has fantastic customer service, while some of BJ’s savings can’t be beat. But if you can only choose one, the actual cost for a membership card is cheaper at BJ’s. A Gold Star Costco membership costs $60 a year, while an executive membership that comes with a few cost-saving perks will run you $120 a year. But over at BJ’s, an Inner Circle membership card is $55, and the BJ’s Perks Rewards Card that provides access to its $2 Cash Back program costs $110 a year. There are also a few ways you can shop at BJ’s without a membership.