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Costco and BJ’s: Which is a better store?



Costco 6760We visited a Costco in Westchester County, New York, and found that it had a much bigger selection of everything than BJ’s Wholesale club.Business Insider/Jessica Tyler

  • Costco and BJ’s Wholesale are both membership-based warehouse clubs. An annual Costco membership costs $60, while BJ’s costs $55 a year. 
  • Costco and BJ’s are very similar, but BJ’s stores have a Dunkin’ Donuts kiosk instead of a food court, and stores have a self-checkout lane so that customers can avoid lines.
  • But on recent visits, I found that Costco offers a lot more for the price of a membership.

Costco and BJ’s Wholesale are membership-based warehouse stores selling groceries, clothing, furniture, and just about everything else.

Both stores offer eye and ear exams, a pharmacy, photo services, and a food court. Even the return policies are similarly generous, though BJ’s stops accepting items after a year, while Costco will accept most items at any time.

Costco’s yearly membership costs $60, while BJ’s is slightly less at $55. The annual cost of a premium membership is double the cost of the basic membership for both stores. Currently, BJ’s has over five million paid memberships with an 86% renewal rate, compared to a 90% renewal rate for Costco members, according to a recent note by Nomura. 

According to a grocery-store ranking from Consumer Reports, the higher membership costs at Costco might be worth it — it ranked higher than BJ’s in cleanliness, meat and produce quality, customer service, store-brand quality, and prices of organic items.

In the next few years BJ’s, which went public for the second time in June, is planning on opening as many as 20 new clubs, in addition to its existing 215 locations. As of January, Costco had plans to open at least three new stores in 2018, in addition to its existing 752 locations worldwide, 522 of which are in the United States.

To see for myself which store really offered the best deal, I went to a BJ’s Wholesale in Jersey City, New Jersey, and a Costco store in Westchester County, New York. Here’s what I found:

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