Emily VanSchmus | 

Costco vs. BJ's: We Compared Their Fees, Prices, and Perks

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A membership card to a wholesale club like BJ's or Costco can unlock hundreds of dollars in savings a year just based on the fact that you're buying things in bulk. But it can be hard to know which one is the best for your household. If you’ve been debating the pros and cons of Costco vs. BJ's — or wondering if you should add yet another membership card to your wallet — it helps to compare their price differences as well as the perks and potential savings for both.

For example, while Costco has a value-packed food court (with the legendary Costco hot dog and pizza), BJ’s Wholesale has a great full-service deli. We'll also get into how Costco and BJ's prices compare on dozens of household staples like ketchup and toilet paper.

And if you don't live near a BJ’s, we’ve also got all the details on the Sam's Club vs. Costco debate — like who wins between Costco pizza vs. Sam's Club pizza and how the Costco hot dog size compares to the Sam's Club's hot dog.

For more smart shopping tips and savings hacks, download the KCL app or text HACKS to 57299.

Membership Costs: BJ's is 8% cheaper

person's hand holding costco gold and bj's club membership cards

If you're deciding which wholesale club to join based on their annual membership fees alone, know that a BJ's membership will cost you about 8% less than Costco's. A basic BJ's membership ("The Club Card") is $55/year, while a basic Costco membership (a "Gold Star Membership") will run you $60/year.

At the basic level of membership, you won't get cashback rewards at either club. But if you pay extra to upgrade your membership — to The Club Card+ at BJ’s or the Executive level at Costco — you'll start earning 2% in rewards each year. The Costco Executive membership allows you to earn up to $1,000 in rewards each year, but BJ's caps your earnings at $500 a year.

With BJ's rewards, you can redeem them immediately, as long as you have a minimum rewards balance of $10. With Costco rewards, you'll have to wait until the end of your annual billing cycle to get your rewards check, which you can then spend on future Costco purchases.

Comparison of the membership costs of Costco vs BJs for their basic and upgraded memberships.

KCL TIP: If you spend at least $250 a month at Costco (or $3,000 a year) with an Executive membership, you'll earn enough back in rewards to pay for the cost to upgrade. At BJ’s, you’d need to spend $229 a month (or $2,750 a year) to cover the cost to upgrade to The Club Card+.

Are membership fees expected to go up?

I should warn you here that both warehouse clubs may be on the verge of a membership fee increase sometime soon. The last time BJ’s raised their fees was in January 2011, when the basic membership went from $50/year to $55/year.

Costco raises their membership fees about once every 5 years and 7 months, and the last price hike happened in June 2017, so we’re on borrowed time (as Costco CFO Richard Galanti said in a March earnings call, it's "when, not if" in regards to a Costco price increase). If either club does raise fees, expect an increase of about $5 a year.

Food Selection and Prices: Costco has a slight edge

If you’re looking for freshly-made food, Costco and BJ’s are both known for their classic 3-pound rotisserie chicken that you can grab for just $5. They also both have a great bakery section with fresh breads, pastries, desserts, and cakes made to order. BJ’s also has a full-service deli, unlike Costco where you’ll have to choose from pre-made options. Reddit users also report that BJ’s regularly offers a $2-off coupon on deli meat for extra savings.

But when it comes to pantry staples and shelf-stable items, Costco usually has cheaper prices if you look at the price per unit. (Plus, BJ’s tends to have smaller pack sizes, which not everyone is a fan of.)

Out of the 25 food and household items we compared below, BJ’s had the cheaper price on just four items. And the total basket price was 20% cheaper at Costco.

BJ's vs. Costco Prices Compared


Costco Price Per Unit

BJ's Price Per Unit

2% Milk, Store Brand

$3.15 / gallon

$2.62 / gallon


$0.46 / lb

$0.74 / lb

Bertoli Pasta Sauce

$0.09 / oz

$0.10 / oz

Cheddar Cheese Block, Store Brand

$2.49 / lb

$3.49 / lb

Chicken Breasts, Boneless, Skinless

$2.99 / lb

$4.49 / lb

Chobani Greek Yogurt Cups

$0.80 / cup

$0.93 / cup

Cream Cheese, Store Brand

$0.16 / oz

$0.22 / oz

Orange Juice, Store Brand

$0.06 / oz

$0.06 / oz

Eggs, Cheapest Variety

$0.19 / egg

$0.24 / egg

Fully Cooked Bacon, Store Brand

$12.49 / lb

$18.86 / lb

General Mills Honey Nut Cheerios

$0.17 / oz

$0.20 / oz

Goldfish Cracker Snack Packs

$0.28 / oz

$0.33 / oz

Heinz Ketchup

$0.10 / oz

$0.09 / oz

Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing

$0.15 / oz

$0.17 / oz

Honeycrisp Apples

$1.62 / lb

$1.49 / lb

JIF Peanut Butter, Creamy

$0.12 / oz

$0.14 / oz

Kraft Macaroni & Cheese

$0.85 / box

$0.86 / box

Potatoes, Cheapest Variety

$0.47 / lb

$0.68 / lb

Quaker Old Fashioned Oats

$1.09 / lb

$0.70 / lb

Tyson Breaded Chicken Strips

$4.99 / lb

$4.85 / lb

Unsalted Butter, Store Brand

$3.24 / lb

$3.74 / lb




Couponing Rules: BJ's accepts manufacturer coupons

If you look at the basics of Costco vs. BJ's membership, you’ll see that BJ’s has one key difference — the ability to use manufacturer coupons in addition to store coupons. There are definitely savings to be had by using manufacturer coupons, but keep in mind the time and effort you’ll spend clipping and using them.

With a Costco membership, the monthly Costco coupon book offers are similar to store coupons, and they are automatically applied at checkout. But at BJ’s, you can use store coupons in addition to digital manufacturer coupons for added savings (and a little more work). You’ll need to clip the BJ’s offers from the "My Coupons" page on BJs.com or in BJ’s mobile app (iOS / Android) in order to apply them to your order at checkout.

Here’s a sampling of the recent dollar-off savings we found offered at each store:

Store Brands: Kirkland Signature is slightly cheaper

side-by-side comparison of costco kirkland and bj's berkley jensen store-brand diapers at costco in store

Seasoned Costco shoppers are likely familiar with the Kirkland brand, which even makes slip-on shoes and Kirkland vodka. But BJ’s Wholesale Club has two exclusive store brands to choose from: Wellsley Farms and Berkley Jensen. Wellsley Farms covers food and drink items, and almost everything else falls under the Berkley Jensen label.

There seems to be a general consensus that Kirkland brand is far superior to Wellsley Farms and Berkley Jensen. Reddit users with memberships to both Costco and BJ’s say the Kirkland brand wins every time in terms of price and quality. 

We compared prices across both retailers for some of the top food and household items and found that Costco’s Kirkland brand had lower prices for 11 out of 19 items, and the Costco basket total came out 12% cheaper than the BJ's total.

Surprisingly, BJ’s did beat Costco on their price for store-brand diapers, dryer sheets, K-Cups, liquid laundry detergent, and premium vanilla ice cream.

After calculating each item’s price per unit, here’s what we found:

Store-Brand Product

Kirkland Price Per Unit

Wellsley Farms / Berkley Jensen Price Per Unit

2% Milk

$3.15 / gallon

$2.62 / gallon

Block Cheese

$2.49 / lb

$3.49 / lb

Bottled Water, 16.9 oz

$0.10 / bottle

$0.12 / bottle


$3.24 / lb

$3.74 / lb

Chicken Breast

$2.99 / lb

$4.49 / lb

Coffee K-Cups

$0.31 / pod

$0.25 / pod

Cream Cheese

$0.16 / oz

$0.22 / oz

Diapers, Sizes 1 - 2

$0.18 / diaper

$0.16 / diaper

Dog Food

$1.24 / lb

$1.33 / lb

Drawstring Trash Bags

$0.07 / bag

$0.09 / bag


$0.19 / egg

$0.24 / egg

Laundry Detergent Pods

$0.13 / each

$0.16 / each

Liquid Laundry Detergent

$0.14 / load

$0.12 / load

Orange Juice

$0.06 / oz

$0.06 / oz

Organic Creamy Peanut Butter

$0.18 / oz

$0.25 / oz

Paper Towels

$0.01 / sheet

$0.01 / sheet

Rotisserie Chicken

$4.99 / ea

$4.99 / ea

Toilet Paper

$0.56 / roll

$0.62 / roll

Vanilla Ice Cream

$0.12 / oz

$0.07 / oz




Food Courts: Only Costco has a food court

When it comes to food court options, Costco is the clear winner. You can’t beat the $1.50 hot dog and soda combo on the Costco Food Court menu, and a whole 18-inch pizza is under $10. Plus, the quality of the food is better than you’ll find at most fast-food restaurants.

BJ’s actually doesn’t even have a food court anymore. In 2016, they replaced their food courts with Dunkin’ Donuts kiosks. You can grab a coffee or a sweet treat while you shop, but if you’re looking for actual food options, Costco is your best bet. 

Online Shopping and Delivery: BJ's offers scan-and-go

Express pay signage in red

If you’re not a fan of long checkout lines — or if you routinely shop during busy hours — BJ’s might be the best fit for you. As long as you download the BJ’s mobile app (iOS / Android) and have it handy while you shop, you can scan items as you load things into your cart, then check out with ExpressPay right on your phone. No need to go through the checkout lines at all!

The BJ’s app is one of the things BJ’s shoppers we talked to love the most about their membership. And it’s a similar differentiator in the battle of Sam’s Club vs. Costco. At Costco, your only option for skipping the regular lines is by using their self-checkout lanes to scan your Costco deals.

Here’s how ExpressPay works at BJ’s:

  1. Open the BJ’s mobile app and select "In-Club Mode."

  2. Scan items with the app as you shop (and clip any relevant coupons, too!).

  3. Pay within the app once you’re done shopping.

  4. Show your QR code receipt at the door on your way out.

Costco does plan to enhance their app soon, but right now, it’s not one of our favorite parts about the membership. On the Costco Earnings call in September 2023, their former CFO said, "I don’t think we’re prepared for scan and go yet. We’re just going to scan, but they can’t go."

As for the pickup options, every BJ’s location offers free curbside pickup. Compare this to Costco, who only offers pickup at select locations — and many of them charge a service fee for the convenience.

Also keep in mind that Costco’s online shopping prices are higher than in-store, meaning you’ll pay more for your actual items by placing an online order for pickup, even if your location doesn’t charge a service fee. You can get free Costco delivery on orders over $75 — but again, you’ll be paying more for your groceries. 

BJ’s prices are the same online and in-store, so you won’t spend more to place a curbside pickup order.

Membership Perks: It's pretty much a tie

Gas Stations

a woman pumping costco gas into car

Several Costco and BJ’s locations have on-site gas stations — but Costco has better quality gas (and more gas station perks) than BJ’s.

We compared gas perks at all the major warehouse clubs and found that Costco has the best quality gas of all the retailers. Out of BJ’s, Costco, and Sam’s Club, only Costco gas is classified as "Top Tier," which means it’s higher quality than EPA regulations require.

And while Sam’s Club actually has the cheapest gas prices on average, Costco always beat out BJ’s in our comparison.

Store Credit Cards 

Both Costco and BJ’s offer a credit card you can use to earn points and cash back at the respective stores and at any other retailer.

To make it easier to compare the options, here’s how the cards differ:

Costco vs. BJ's Credit Card Perks

Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi

BJ’s One Mastercard

BJ’s One+ Mastercard


4% back on eligible gas and EV charging for the first $7,000 per year, then 1% back after that

$0.10 off per gallon at BJ’s Gas locations

$0.15 off per gallon at BJ’s Gas locations


3% back




3% back



Warehouse Purchases

2% back

3% back

5% back

All Other Purchases

1% back

1.5% back

2% back

Redemption Rate

Annual rewards certificate

Monthly rewards loaded onto membership card

Monthly rewards loaded onto membership card

Redemption Method

In-warehouse only

In-warehouse or online

In-warehouse or online

Annual Fee




Maximum Rewards

No rewards maximum

No rewards maximum

No rewards maximum

If you’re confused about how to compare the gas perks between Costco’s credit card and BJ’s two options, I was too. So I did some calculations to put the gas savings to the test. Let’s say gas costs $3.04/gal at regular price. Here’s what you’d pay (and earn) with each card per gallon:

  • Costco: Pay $3.04 for a gallon + earn 4% cashback = $0.12 in savings

  • BJ’s One: Pay $2.94 for a gallon (after the discount) = $0.10 in savings

  • BJ’s One+: Pay $2.89 for a gallon (after the discount) = $0.15 in savings

As you can see, the BJ’s One+ Mastercard beats Costco on gas, but the regular BJ’s One Mastercard doesn’t.

Non-Member Shopping

While you will technically need a membership to shop at either Costco or BJ’s, there are a few exceptions.

Some Costco locations will let you purchase alcohol, fill prescriptions at the pharmacy, and eat at the food court without a membership. You can also have a current Costco member purchase a Costco Shop Card for you, then you can use that gift card to enter the store and purchase items without paying for the full membership. And with Costco online shopping, you can always shop without a membership, but you’ll pay 5% more for anything you buy.

At BJ’s, you can shop without a membership using their One-Day Pass that’s good for 24 hours. But if you’re shopping this way, you won’t get to use their digital coupons — AND you’ll be charged a 15% non-member surcharge.

In case you were wondering, Costco doesn’t offer a one-day pass at all.

KCL TIP: Another difference? The ability to add-on additional members (up to three) to your BJ’s account for $30 a year. Given all the recent drama surrounding the Costco membership sharing crackdown, this is a major bonus for BJ’s if you’re likely to want to share your membership with more people in your household.

Costco vs. BJ's: Which One Is Better?

Even though the Costco membership is $5 - $10 more expensive than BJ's, when you consider the average food prices, the quality of their store brands, and the overall shopping experience, Costco has the slight edge.

But if you plan to primarily shop online and use curbside pickup, BJ’s might be a better fit. Their ExpressPay is a handy feature of the BJ's app, and they don't charge you more to shop online or order curbside pickup. However, the in-store experience is not as nice — and you can’t grab a hot dog while you shop. 

Both Costco and BJ’s allow you to return your membership if you aren’t satisfied, so it can be worth checking them both out to see which one works best for your household.

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