Saving: Costco versus Sam's Club

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Both Costco and Sam's Club promise to save you big bucks, but is one better than the other? (WPVI)

Both Costco and Sam's Club promise to save you big bucks, but is one better than the other?

Consumer Reports Money Adviser, Margot Gilman says, "The first thing we looked at was membership cost. Both offer different levels. Costco starts at $55, Sam's Club at $45. So not a big difference, but something."

In Consumer Reports surveys of subscribers, both clubs consistently get high marks on price.

When it comes to services however, the offerings vary.

At Costco, you can get a mortgage and invest in securities or buy car insurance.

Sam's Club offers online auctions, where you can bid on things like TVs and laptops, starting at just one dollar.

You can also sign up to receive regular shipments of things you use lots of, like diapers or printer ink.

For electronics, Consumer Reports reader surveys find both Sam's Club and Costco have the same quality.

But Costco rates higher for the quality of so many other things, including jewelry, women's and kids' clothing, and eyeglasses.

"We also looked at customer service and neither club has bragging rights here," said Gilman.

Costco squeezes ahead by just a little, but readers' scores range from poor to fair."

If you're not happy with fruit or produce you bought? Sam's Club offers a "double-your-money-back" guarantee on fresh food.

On other returns? Keep your receipt and either club will take it back, usually for up to 90 days -- although Sam's Club limits some items, like cell phones, to 30 days.

The final verdict? Costco has the edge, but Consumer Reports says both stores are worth their membership fees.
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