Costco vs. BJ’s Wholesale: What Is the Difference?

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Warehouse clubs are a fantastic way to save money on groceries and certain services such as eyeglasses, gas, tires and more. 

You may have different warehouse clubs in your area and might be confused about which to join. 

As a member of both Costco and BJ’s Wholesale, I will share with you some key information to help make that decision a little easier. 

Costco vs. BJ’s Wholesale: Things To Know Before Purchasing a Membership

In this article, I’ll share information you need to know before considering membership at either Costco or BJ’s Wholesale, including information on:


Costco and BJ’s require a membership to shop in their clubs and shop online (with very few exceptions). The cost of membership varies significantly between the two clubs. 


Costco offers two tiers for membership: Gold Star which costs $60 per year and Executive which costs $120 per year.

Gold Star allows access to the club and all of the services that Costco provides its members.

Executive membership, however, takes that next step further. You can earn a 2% reward on qualifying purchases at Costco. It is important to note that there is a reward-earning cap of $1,000 per year. The only time you would have to worry about hitting that is if you spend $50,000 per year at Costco. The reward certificates are redeemable on merchandise and services at Costco. 

Photo courtesy of

If you plan to do the bulk of your shopping at Costco, I would definitely consider becoming an Executive member. Depending on the amount of rewards earned, it could cover the cost of your annual membership!

Let’s say you upgrade to Executive because you think you will break even. But as the year draws to a close, you did not. Not a problem! Costco can downgrade your card to the Gold Star level at any time and refund the additional membership cost. The only catch is that all rewards earned to that point will be forfeited. 


BJ’s Wholesale

Membership at BJ’s Wholesale is less expensive than at Costco. They also offer two membership tiers. Club Level starts out at $55/year and Club+ starts out at $110 per year. 

Club level allows access to the warehouse, gas station, tire center, and more!

BJ’s Wholesale Freeport, NY

Club+ membership gives you everything the Club level gives with the addition of an instant $.05 off per gallon of gas (but it’s important to note that not all locations have gas). And like Costco, the upgraded membership also provides 2% back in rewards on most in-club and online purchases. 

If you are considering joining BJ’s Wholesale, I highly recommend checking out As of July 2023, there is a deal on Club level membership for only $20! That is a savings of $35!

Still not sold? BJ’s offers a one-day pass for you to experience what it is like shopping online with the club. There are some exclusions, but it is a great offer that sets BJ’s apart from the other warehouse clubs. 

Both Costco and BJ’s offer a money-back guarantee on their memberships. If you are unhappy at any time, you can cancel for a full refund. You have nothing to lose! 

CostcoBJ’s Wholesale
$60 (Gold Star)$55 (Club Level)
$120 (Executive)$110 (Club+)


Maybe you live or work near a Costco? Maybe BJ’s Wholesale? Or maybe you now have both! Costco has locations all across the country (and the world!) and BJ’s Wholesale tends to be located on the east coast. 

Here’s what I mean. If you are traveling through Washington state, you will not find a BJ’s Wholesale but you would surely find Costco as that is where they are based. But say you are in Maine and you want to stop by Costco and grab a pack of their famous Kirkland Signature muffins to take on the lake. Sorry. You will not find Costco in Maine. But you would find a BJ’s Wholesale.


Costco operates 853 locations as of July 2023 with 587 stores in the U.S. and Puerto Rico alone. But unfortunately, Costco does not operate in Maine, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and Wyoming. 

But if you happen to find yourself in another country, great news! Costco has international locations in Canada, the U.K., Taiwan, Korea, Japan, Australia, Mexico, Spain, Iceland, France, China, New Zealand, and Sweden. 


BJ’s Wholesale

Based in Marlborough, Massachusetts, BJ’s Wholesale operates 210 clubs in 17 states. Those states include Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

As of July 2023, BJ’s does not operate in any international locations.

Store Brands

Costco and BJ’s have their own house brand of products. Some of these house brands repeatedly get high scores from Consumer Reports. 


Costco has its own house brand called Kirkland Signature. When shopping at Costco, you will find that almost everything they sell also comes in a Kirkland Signature branded product. According to Costco, the name Kirkland Signature means “quality and value.”

BJ’s Wholesale

BJ’s is unique in that they have two different house brands that they operate under: Berkley Jensen and Wellsley Farms.

According to BJ’s “With Wellsley Farms and Berkley Jensen, BJ’s Members enjoy outstanding quality that’s as good or better than national brands at big savings.” 

In my house, we use Kirkland Signature products from Costco and both Berkley Jensen and Wellsley Farms products from BJ’s. We have found that the warehouse club brands are better quality and less expensive than the top-name brand products. We make it a point to shop the warehouse club brands as often as possible.

Credit Cards

If you do join a warehouse club, I would recommend pairing your membership with a credit card that the club offers in order to maximize savings. If you want to dive deeper into your options, check out Team Clark’s thorough reviews of the Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi and BJ’s Mastercards™.  

But, for now, I’ll share with you the perks of each warehouse credit card. If you do decide to apply for their credit card, it doubles as your membership card. One less card to carry in your wallet! A win-win!

CategoryCostco Anywhere Visa®BJ’s Wholesale Mastercards™
Gas/EV Charging4% cash back (up to $7,000 spent per year) then 1% after that.BJ’s One: 1.5% back everywhere
BJ’s One+: 2% back everywhere
Restaurants3% UnlimitedBJ’s One: 1.5% back everywhere
BJ’s One+: 2% back everywhere
Eligible Travel3% UnlimitedBJ’s One: 1.5% back everywhere
BJ’s One+: 2% back everywhere
Warehouse/Online2% UnlimitedBJ’s One: 3% back on most purchases
BJ’s One+: 5% back on most purchases
Gas DiscountNo additional discount
(cash back only)
BJ’s One: $0.10/gal at BJ’s
BJ’s One+: $0.15/gal at BJ’s
Redeemable: Every February via merchandise or cash backAnytime!

If you don’t want to go for a store-branded card, no problem. Costco accepts Visa debit and credit cards in store and Visa and Mastercard online.


While BJ’s accepts Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and Amex in-store and online making it much more convenient.



Have you checked out my recent article about buying gas at Costco? One of the key reasons I love my Costco membership is because of the type of gas they use. Their house brand, Kirkland Signature, is Top Tier gas which is designed to be better for your engine and save money over time.

Costco Wholesale Gas in Oceanside, NY

BJ’s Wholesale

While BJ’s Wholesale does not have Top Tier gas, they do offer many ways to save on your fuel bill. Just by being a Club+ member, you are automatically eligible to receive $.05 off per gallon of gas purchased. If you sign up for their credit card as a regular club member you will receive $0.10 off per gallon of gas and Club+ credit card holders will receive $0.15 off per gallon of gas. 

If you aren’t interested in their credit card offer, no problem! They also offer ways to score some fuel discounts based on what you are buying. BJ’s Wholesale offers a Fuel Saver Program. When you purchase items off their monthly list, you will receive $0.10 off per gallon of gas up to a maximum of $99 or 40 gallons, whichever comes first. Every month, be sure to check the site to view the current list of items. 

BJ’s Wholesale Gas in Freeport, NY

Tire Center

While the deals on gas alone can make membership worth it, don’t stop there for your car-related savings. Let’s take a look at their tire centers.


Do you drive a car? The Costco Tire Center constantly tops the charts at Consumer Reports with a current score of 91! I have had my tires replaced at Costco and can attest to just how easy it is. It is very easy to shop their current selection online and even easier to book an appointment

The cool part about buying your tires through Costco is that the cost of having them installed is factored into the price. There are no surprise “gotchas” when you check out. 

But there is a downfall that I discovered when I was having my tires installed. You need to wait around for the work to be completed. They do not offer a customer lounge and I did find myself shopping. While getting exercise by walking laps around the store was great, I did find myself purchasing items that I was not planning on purchasing. But after about 90 minutes, my car was done and I was off on my way. 

All passenger vehicle tires purchased at Costco come with a Road Hazard Warranty of five years. That is a considerable savings to your wallet should you need a repair or replacement. Also, tire rotations are free for life on tires purchased at Costco. 

BJ’s Wholesale

Also rated well with Consumer Reports, BJ’s Tire Center really stands out with its three-point tire promise. Here are the three points according to BJ’s Wholesale:


First, they offer top-quality brands such as Michelin, Good Year, BF Goodrich, and Bridgestone.

Second, their tires are an incredible value. For a $20 installation fee per tire, it includes the following for the life of the tire:

  • Tire Rotating
  • Wheel Balancing
  • Flat Repairs
  • Inflation Check
  • Plus, a full road hazard warranty

Third, included with every installation is:

  • Easy online selection
  • No waiting with online appointments
  • Highly trained technicians
  • Mounting and balancing techniques approved by the Tire Industry Association
  • State-of-the-art tools and equipment
BJ’s Wholesale Tire Center Deer Park, NY

Navigating the BJ’s tire site is easy and they also offer money-saving rebates on select tires purchased. As of July 2023, you can save up to $150 instantly when you purchase and install a set of 4 Michelin, Goodyear or Bridgestone tires. We also created a step-by-step guide on buying your tires from BJ’s Tire Center

Optical Services


Costco offers a variety of optical services inside its stores. They offer a variety of designer and Kirkland Signature frames to choose from and also have a doctor on hand to perform eye exams. What’s awesome about Costco Optical is that they are highly rated and also the number one place to buy eyeglasses according to Consumer Reports. They earn high marks for price, follow-ups after the appointment, customer service and also the quality of frames. We also included Costco as one of the best places to buy eyeglasses.

It is important to note that if you are looking to shop online for glasses with Costco, you will only see prices and information for their house brand Kirkland Signature. You will need to stop by the optical department in-store to check out other brands. 

BJ’s Wholesale

BJ’s Wholesale also offers optical services similar to Costco with some small differences. BJ’s Optical allows you to make your appointment right online whereas at Costco you must call and schedule a time. 

My favorite part about shopping at BJ’s Optical is that you can shop all eyeglasses and sunglasses brands online and get a feel for their offerings before heading over to the store. If you have your prescription information already from another optometrist, you can easily shop online! Currently, BJ’s Optical offers brands such as Gloria Vanderbilt, Oscar de La Renta, Geoffrey Beene and even their house brand Berkley Jensen. 

I would recommend checking out the guide that we have on about things to know before visiting BJ’s Optical.

Online Shopping

Both Costco and BJ’s Wholesale offer online shopping but you have to spend some serious cash to qualify for free shipping (in most cases). 



Costco has a unique policy when it comes to purchasing online. Some items have shipping charges associated with them, but you would know in advance if it would ship for free. If there is a shipping charge, it would be listed right near the product or shown when looking at your cart.

Costco says on its website that some items ship directly from vendors and manufacturers and that they can set their own shipping prices.

Costco also has a grocery delivery service in certain areas. Products marked with two-day delivery will have an added fee per item unless the total order cost is over $75. 

My recommendation is to price compare in-store vs ordering online from Costco. I recently saw an item at Costco that I wanted to purchase but did not want to spend the few bucks on shipping. I keep screenshots on my phone of items to look for in-store and to my surprise, not only did they have it but it was $10 cheaper! I saved the $3 shipping charge and an additional $10 on the item. 

I decided to test this theory and took note of the prices of certain items. To my surprise, some items had a markup online. While Costco does offer some of the best prices around, it still pays to price compare online vs. in club. 

BJ’s Wholesale

BJ’s operates a little differently than Costco for online shopping. They calculate their shipping costs based on where you live and where the item actually ships from. According to their site, they do try and estimate shipping costs as best as possible, but they cannot provide exact shipping costs until the order is placed.

When I was doing a little price comparison online as I usually do, I noticed that I was given 3 options for some items that I was purchasing. I had the ability to do in-club pickup for free, have BJ’s deliver it within 2 hours for a fee or have it shipped to me via a standard courier like UPS or FedEx. The item that I was looking at gave me the ability to score $8.99 flat rate shipping on the purchase of 3 eligible items. While it wasn’t free shipping, at least I knew what I might be paying up front. 

Screenshot courtesy

What I thought was really cool that I had not seen at other warehouse clubs is the ability to set certain items up to be a subscription! The coffee that I was planning to purchase came with the option to ship on a recurring basis. The only glitch here is that the subscription price is not guaranteed. It would fluctuate just as any item price would. For the coffee that I was planning to purchase, I have seen that price range from $29.99 per box to $46.99 per box depending on the warehouse club and any promotions so you should be prepared to spend in a particular range. It might be cheaper to shop around instead of subscribing to certain items. 

Screenshot courtesy

Return Policy

Both Costco and BJ’s Wholesale are all about making the customer happy. They both offer very generous return policies but one is better than the other. 


Costco offers its members a risk-free 100% satisfaction guarantee! If you decide that having a membership is not for you, you can cancel and obtain a full refund anytime. 


Costco offers a very generous return policy on merchandise with some exceptions on electronics, jewelry and wearable items. Most items purchased at Costco can be returned at any time so if you decide several months from now that you would like to do a return, it should not be a problem.

BJ’s Wholesale

BJ’s says that they select the highest quality merchandise for their members and stand behind the products they sell. They have timelines and exclusions for some of the items sold.  But for general merchandise,  items must be new (with all accessories intact) and be returned within one year of purchase. Here is the full list of exclusions. 

Final Thoughts

When it comes to deciding if you should join Costco or BJ’s, there are lots of factors to consider. But, for most people, the savings are worth it to join at least one club. 

And, for some (like me!), you may decide that the savings are worth it to be a member at both clubs. (This is especially true if you can score a great deal on one of your memberships!). 

I am a Costco and BJ’s Wholesale member for very different reasons. While I personally prefer the shopping experience at Costco and their Top Tier gas, BJ’s Wholesale is great because they have a location about two miles from my home which is perfect for needing items in a pinch. I also love price comparing Costco to BJ’s Wholesale.

Don’t forget, both clubs offer a satisfaction guarantee and will refund your membership cost at any time you are not satisfied. There is nothing to lose. 

Do you prefer Costco or BJ’s Wholesale? Share your opinion in the Community!