Costco vs. Boxed price comparison: Which is cheaper?

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Costco vs. Boxed price comparison: Which is cheaper?
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All year long, Clark.com‘s Michael Timmermann is sharing quick and easy ways to save money as part of our Michael Saves series. Check in every Monday as he puts new and familiar savings strategies to the test. Sign up for our newsletter to have these stories delivered to your inbox!

Boxed.com is referred to as “Costco for millennials,” but can the online-only retailer really save you money?

Money expert Clark Howard put Boxed and Costco on his list of the Top 5 retailers to watch in 2018. He believes Costco’s recent enhancements to its delivery service are a response to the threat from Boxed.com — not Amazon.

RELATED: Mom reveals her #1 tip to save money at Kroger

Price comparison: Costco vs. Boxed 

I recently placed my first order with Boxed and learned a few things about how the company operates:

  1. No annual membership fee
  2. Orders over $49 qualify for free shipping
  3. Most orders arrive within two business days
  4. Receive two free samples with every order
  5. Get 1% in cash rewards for every purchase

Boxed says it lets customers buy in bulk at warehouse prices, but I wanted to see how they compare to the in-club prices at Costco. Here’s my price comparison of 10 common items:

1. Airborne, 36 tablets

Costco vs Boxed Airborne

  • Costco price: $16.49

  • Boxed price: $19.99

2. AA batteries 

Costco vs Boxed batteries

  • Costco Kirkland Signature, 72 batteries: $19.99

  • Boxed Prince & Spring, 40 batteries: $10.99*

*Boxed’s app says the price per battery is $0.30, but that would add up to $12 for the 40-count package. The price per battery is actually $0.275, which is slightly below Costco’s price.

3. Puma men’s no-show socks

  • Costco: $11.99; 8 pack

  • Boxed: $11.99; 6 pack 

4. Dove beauty bar

Costco vs Boxed Dove

  • Costco: $15.99 for 16 bars; $0.99 each 

  • Boxed: $15.39 for 14 bars; $1.10 each 

5. Crest toothpaste – 5 x 8.2 ounce packages

Costco vs Boxed Crest

  • Costco: $12.99

  • Boxed: $15.99

6. Tide liquid laundry detergent

Costco vs Boxed Tide

  • Costco: $19.99 for 170 ounces

  • Boxed: $19.99 for 150 ounces 

7. Toilet paper, 30 rolls 

  • Costco Kirkland Signature: $15.99*

  • Boxed Prince & Spring: $16.99

*If you shop on Costco.com instead of going to the warehouse, bath tissue costs $18.99 for 30 rolls. Prices for many items on Costco.com are higher than what you pay in the club.

8. Frito Lay variety pack 

Costco vs Boxed Frito Lay

  • Costco: $12.99 for 54 bags; $0.24 each

  • Boxed: $13.99 for 40 bags; $0.35 each 

9. Quinoa

Costco vs Boxed quinoa

  • Costco: $8.99 for 4.5 pounds 

  • Boxed: $11.99 for 4 pounds

10. Ground coffee

  • Costco Kirkland Signature: $9.99 for 2 pounds 

  • Boxed Prince & Spring: $8.99 for 1.25 pounds 

And the winner is… 

Costco ended up being less than $1 cheaper than Boxed when I added up all 10 items. The total for Costco was $145.40 and Boxed was $146.30. But Costco provided a better value — several products were sold in larger sizes for an equal or lower price.

For example, here’s a side-by-side comparison of the toilet paper from the private brands sold at Costco (left) and Boxed (right):

Costco toilet paper (left) and Boxed toilet paper (right)
Costco toilet paper (left) and Boxed toilet paper (right)

Costco Kirkland Signature bath tissue has 425 sheets per roll and they’re 4.5 inches by 4 inches, while the toilet paper from Boxed’s Prince & Spring brand has only 231 sheets per roll and is 4 inches by 4 inches.

On top of being more expensive, you get way less toilet paper with Boxed! That’s why you always have to check unit prices…

RELATED: Costco for millennials? 5 things to know about Boxed

Final thought

When I conducted this price comparison, I expected Costco’s in-club prices to be lower than Boxed.com. That’s no surprise. But what you have to decide is how much you’re willing to pay for the convenience of having bulk goods delivered.

For those who don’t like the idea of paying membership fees, Boxed may still be worth trying out. Read my full review here.

Have you tried Boxed yet? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or in the comments below if you think it’s a good deal or not! 

More stories from our Michael Saves series:

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Michael Timmermann paid off his mortgage in two years. Now, he shares his money-saving tips on his blog, MichaelSaves.com.
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