The Underrated Aisle That (Finally) Convinced Me to Sign Up for a Sam’s Club Membership

published Oct 10, 2023
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Sam's club grocery store aisle.
Credit: Patty Catalano

My husband and I moved to Pittsburgh in September 2022. After settling into our new apartment and navigating our neighborhood grocery store, we soon realized the drinks we usually buy were too pricey for our modest grocery budget. We considered cutting back on our morning Red Bulls and post-gym Vitamin Waters; It wasn’t until we rented a storage unit in our apartment complex that we began thinking about an alternative solution: Buying in bulk at a local big-box store. 

After researching the retailers in our area and doing some quick calculations, we ultimately decided to join Sam’s Club. In the year since we’ve become members it’s saved us hundreds of dollars on drinks. (This September was our one-year Sam’s Club-versary!) Plus, we’ve started buying our paper towels, napkins, zip-top bags, and other household essentials in bulk to stretch our grocery dollars even further. 

Credit: Katie Oczypok

Why I Decided to Sign Up for a Sam’s Club Plus Membership

We don’t own a car, and ride shares like Uber and Lyft are infrequent and can really add up, so finding a budget-friendly way to get bulk items back to our apartment was top of mind.

Sam’s Club offers two membership tiers: the basic or Club membership costs $50 per year; the Plus membership costs $110 per year, and those members earn a 2% annual reward up to $1,000, plus other benefits. Plus members are charged $8 per order for delivery (as opposed to $12 for Club members) and can get same-day delivery for no extra cost.

We ultimately went with a Plus membership, as it had better perks and free shipping on most online items. Using the delivery service also helps us steer clear of impulse purchases in-store.

Credit: Katie Oczypok

We also compared the prices of some of our favorite beverages. We typically pay $25.49 for 12 Red Bulls at our local grocery store; at Sam’s Club a 24-pack is priced at $53.98. At first glance, it seems like the grocery store would be cheaper, but we took a closer look at the cans. Not only are the Red Bulls at Sam’s Club sold in bigger packs, but they’re also sold in larger cans (12 ounces versus 8.4 ounces, at the grocery store). Some basic math revealed we’d been paying $19 more for the same amount of Red Bull at the grocery store.

Vitamin Water is an even better buy. The 20-ounce bottles are sold individually for $2.29 each. At Sam’s Club, a 20-pack of the same-size bottles is $19.98, or approximately $1 each. I usually visit our apartment’s gym to work out around five days per week, so it saves $25.82 a month on Vitamin Water.

We found other savings on some of our staples, like bottled water, soda, and iced tea. The same-sized bottle of Pure Leaf’s unsweetened iced tea, for example, is 25 cents cheaper at Sam’s Club than our local grocery store ($16.48 for an 18-pack at Sam’s Club versus $13.99 for a 12-pack at the grocery store). The iced tea is available through shipping only, which is free. Just be advised to make sure you can safely receive the package, as a case we ordered mysteriously disappeared from our apartment’s package room before we could pick it up.

What are some of your favorite Sam’s Club deals? Tell us about it in the comments below.