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In 1983, businessman-turned-entrepreneur Sam Walton founded Sam’s Club to help other businessmen get deals on products and services. Today, the warehouse club’s 650-plus locations help members find bargains on everything from toilet paper to TVs.
But not everything in Sam’s Club is a good deal. Some offers should be, well, left to Sam. GoBankingRates.com asked savings experts to weigh in on what they think are the best and worst deals at the store. Click through to see what they had to say.
15 Best Sam’s Club Deals
If you want to maximize your savings, here are Sam’s Club deals you should snag.
The holidays are right around the corner, and that usually means a slightly higher alcohol budget. Sam’s Club is a great place to keep it under control, said Amy Chang, lifestyle savings expert at Slickdeals.net.
“Hit up the alcohol section and stock up on beer, liquor, and wine for big discounts,” she said. “In fact, some designer brand liquor companies are produced in the same factory as warehouse brands. So, you’ll save money without sacrificing quality.”
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2. Brand-Name Tires
Driving your tires until they’re bald might save you money, but it’s a dangerous practice. Thanks to Sam’s Club, though, you can be safe on the road with quality tires.
“With winter approaching, now’s the time to make sure your tires are in tip-top shape,” said Chang. Sam’s Club offers up to 20 percent savings on the same tires that auto shops sell, plus the store will mount them for you while you shop, she said.
3. Eggs, Butter and Cheese
“Eggs, butter and cheese are almost always the best possible price any time of year,” she said. “Expect to save 30 to 50 percent compared to supermarkets. This is due to the fact that these are staples that don’t often have high-value coupons, and the most competitive sales at supermarkets are usually only on certain holiday sales events.”
4. Health Screenings
Healthcare is expensive — that’s why a free health screening could be the best deal you find at Sam’s Club, said Benjamin Glaser, features editor with DealNews.com.
“Sam’s Clubs with pharmacies have free health screenings about every two months. And that’s open to the public, not just members,” he said.
If you need a new TV, you’ll want to do careful comparison shopping. But include Sam’s Club in the mix, said Glaser.
“Many people might not think of Sam’s Club when they’re purchasing a TV, but it has very competitive prices. However, most of its best deals come from off-brands like Vizio and Hisense,” he said.
Related: 5 Best and Worst Deals at Best Buy
6. Gift Cards
Hardly anything is better than free money to spend on your favorite meal or song, which is why you should take advantage of discounted gift cards at Sam’s Club, said Glaser.
“In the last year, we’ve seen great discounted gift card deals at Sam’s Club, usually for restaurants like Dickey’s Barbecue Pit or Boston Market. But there’s also deals for iTunes credit sometimes,” he said.
Energy is expensive — especially when it comes in the small, portable form. But Sam’s Club can help, said Regina Conway, consumer expert for Slickdeals.net. “You’ll pay as much as $1 less per battery than if you purchased them full price at the grocery store,” she said.
This is one item where it pays to stock up, too. “Check expiration dates, but these should be several years out, so it makes sense to buy in bulk,” said Conway.
8. Over-the-Counter and Prescription Drugs
While she suggests always comparison shopping for medications, Conway said Sam’s Club should be on the list — whether or not you’re a member.
“Because of drug regulations, the stores cannot require you to be a member to buy prescription medications,” she said. That can pay off. “Some medicine carried there can cost as much as 50 percent less than local pharmacies,” said Conway.
9. Christmas Trees
Sam’s Club is a great place to get into the holiday spirit, thanks to deals on the most important Christmas decoration. Sam’s Club, along with other warehouse stores, stock up on trees, making it easy for them to give great prices, said Conway.
“Bear in mind, however, that negotiating opportunities will be thin at warehouse stores,” she warned. “[Also] check out the faux tree deals at the warehouse stores. They’ll get you through several seasons, saving you more each year.”
10. Party Food
When it’s time to party, count Sam in.
“Most food items sold in large quantities are not only a great deal but will keep you stocked for large family or work gatherings,” said Conway. “From frozen appetizers and finger foods to desserts and gift baskets, you’ll save 30 percent over local supermarket deals.”
One warning: Don’t buy more than you need. Waste is a bargain hunter’s worst enemy, after all.
11. Pet Items
If you have a pet, you and your furry best friend will love Sam’s Club deals, said Kendal Perez, savings expert at CouponSherpa.com. “Pet beds are a great deal from Sam’s Club with prices nearly 40 percent less than competitors,” she said.
For instance, she found a Majestic Orthopedic Double Pet Bed, 24 inches by 34 inches, priced at $49.88 at Sam’s Club, compared to $78.99 at Target and $64.73 from Walmart. Other great pet deals included treats and cat litter.
12. Select Household Appliances
Ready to upgrade your coffee maker, vacuum or mixer? Perez said Sam’s Club is worth a try.
“Sam’s Club is a great source for top appliance brands at discounted prices,” she said. “For example, a KitchenAid 5-Quart Professional Stand Mixer is on sale now through Nov. 23 for $250, compared to $300 from Macy’s, $330 from Amazon and $450 from Target.”
Other deals she suggested were on Nutri Ninja blenders, KitchenAid coffeemakers and a Dyson V6 Motorhead Cordless Vacuum, which costs $370, $30 less than competitors.
13. Select Food Gifts
If you like giving people gift baskets filled with goodies, Sam’s Club is your spot, said Perez. “Gourmet gift baskets are a steal from Sam’s Club, especially since they’re easy to break apart and give as separate, smaller gifts to stretch your holiday budget,” she said.
She pointed toward the Alder Creek Zen Tea Tray featuring TAZO tea, which goes for $29 — $7 to $21 lower than competitors. Another good deal, said Perez, is the Alder Creek Ghirardelli Chocolate Brownie Delight gift basket, saving you at least $11.
14. Frozen Fruit
Are you a morning smoothie lover or afternoon pie maker? Head to Sam’s Club, said Perez.
“Frozen fruit is a great price at Sam’s Club compared to grocery stores,” she said. “For example, a 48-ounce bag of frozen blueberries from Sam’s Club is $7.48, compared to $9.96 from Walmart and $9.99 from Target.” Another cool deal are Dole Mango Chunks for 15 cents per ounce at Sam’s Club, compared to 24 cents from Walmart, said Perez.
15. Copy Paper
If you or your business goes through a lot of copy paper, Perez suggested checking out Sam’s Club.
“The savings on copy paper from Sam’s Club can be significant compared to office supply stores,” she said. She did add, however, that while Sam’s Club’s copy paper prices are great, at certain times, like back-to-school season, office supply stores might have them beat.
15 Worst Sam’s Club Deals
Passing up on bad deals is just as important as grabbing good ones. So, here are 15 Sam’s Club deals you might want to skip.
1. Everyday Meat
Grab the specialty meats, but leave the everyday cuts at Sam’s Club, said Gault.
“The one or two featured meat sales at supermarkets will beat warehouse club stores by a lot,” she said. She suggested bulking up on supermarket meat sales for basics like chicken, pork chops, choice steaks and more. She said that there are always supermarket sales offering 50 to 67 percent off.
2. Some Fresh Produce
Warehouse stores like Sam’s Club don’t offer seasonal sales on fresh produce, so often you’ll find better deals at the supermarket, said Gault.
“I always say bring the sales circular, or look it up on your smartphone before you pay 50 percent more or even twice as much,” she said.
3. Toilet Paper and Paper Towels
Paper products tend to be a pretty flimsy deal at Sam’s Club and other warehouse stores, said Conway. Per sheet, toilet paper ends up being roughly the same price at the grocery store as Sam’s Club. However, with a sale or coupon, you can easily find a better deal at the grocery store, she said.
“Papers towels cost 50 percent less at merchants such as Target or the grocery store when on sale,” added Conway.
The good news: Sam’s Club has high-quality suitcases, said Conway. The bad news: They’re more expensive than using an online coupon code.
“Macy’s, for example, has a two-piece Samsonite luggage set comparable to that at the warehouse clubs for a lower price,” she said. “Coupled with a coupon code for 15 to 20 percent off available at Slickdeals.net, the savings are even greater.”
This is another good news, bad news scenario, said Jeanette Pavini, a savings expert with Coupons.com.
“You can get really great deals on coffee when you shop at warehouse stores, but here’s the catch: Coffee is only at its peak for a limited amount of time,” she said. “So while you’ll certainly save buying the 2-pound bag of coffee, it may not be optimum quality by the time you reach the bottom of the bag.”
Pavini suggested grabbing a coupon and hitting your local grocer instead. “Recently, I found around a dozen coffee-related offers in the beverage section at Coupons.com,” she said.
Soda, the young guns’ coffee. But don’t look to Sam’s Club to give you the bargain basement price. Grocery stores often have great sales on soda around popular holidays and sporting events, said Conway.
“Typically, during these sales cycles, you can expect to pay about 17 cents per can at the grocery store versus the normal low price at a warehouse club for 25 cents per can,” she said.
Yes, you can buy jumbo boxes of cereal for a seemingly good price at Sam’s Club, but often you can do a lot better if you wait for sales at the grocery store and use a coupon, said Pavini.
“Since cereal coupons are one of the most popular coupon categories, there are always deals to be had,” she said. “Plus, while unopened cereal will last for months in your pantry, once opened the big boxes may get stale before you get to the bottom.”
Sure, that gallon of mayonnaise might be a fantastic price, but do you really want or need that much? Pavini said that considering the possibility of waste, it might be more penny-wise to wait for the fridge-sized condiments to go on sale at the supermarket.
“Keep in mind that fatty-based products, like mayonnaise and olive oil, have a shorter shelf life once opened,” she said. “Make sure you’re able to finish it before it goes bad, or it’s wasted money — no matter how good the deal.”
9. Pantry Items
Packaged foods — like canned food, pancake mix, salad dressing and almost anything in the center of the supermarket aisles — are cheaper when on sale at supermarkets than at Sam’s Club, said Gault.
“The sale price is usually 20 to 40 percent less,” she explained. “Adding a coupon makes the regular-size boxes on sale often half the cost per unit or cost per ounce than the huge bulk packages at warehouse club stores.”
10. Sam’s Club Membership Fee
If you haven’t joined yet but are thinking of spending $45 or $100 for a Sam’s Club membership, Chang said you should shop around.
“Before you commit to a membership at Sam’s Club, look for a deal,” she said. “Slickdeals.net currently has a one-year Sam’s Club membership for only $25, and it comes with a $5 gift card and a free rotisserie chicken.” That deal lasts until the end of the year.
If you’re a big reader, don’t let the warehouse store’s many books pull you in. A good read might be a bad deal, said Glaser. He suggested checking online for cheaper deals, or visiting your local library.
Diapers can hammer a budget faster than a nursery add-on, so you might be inclined to stock up at Sam’s Club. But Chang said you might want to plan a little.
“Sure, it may seem reasonable to stock up on diapers as it seems babies go through them so quickly,” she said. “But, babies also grow fast, which means you’ll end up with diapers that no longer fit. Check out discount stores like Target for diapers and buy only what you need.”
Any food that can go bad will if you buy too much of it. And warehouse clubs in general are great at pulling you into this trap. Unless you have a party coming up for which you need a lot of food, it’s generally a bad idea to buy any perishable goods in bulk at a place like Sam’s Club, said Glaser. You will likely have to throw a lot of it out, which negates most if not all of the savings.
14. Raw Seafood
While Gault cheers Sam’s Club pricing and quality of frozen, vacuum-sealed seafood, she said the raw seafood might not be the best deal.
“Since the frozen fish is usually flash frozen on the ship moments after it’s caught, I always say, ‘Flash frozen fish is fresher than fresh fish,’” she said.
These days, just about everybody sells computers, so it’s tough to know which deals are the best. But, said Glaser, Sam’s Club might not be your first choice. Rarely, if ever, does Sam’s Club come through with the best deals on laptops.
This article originally appeared on GoBankingRates.