The 18 best buys at warehouse stores

Best Buys at Warehouse Stores

Warehouse clubs excel at making things seem cheaper, even if they're not. Nonetheless, there are some really good deals to be had.

Single best way to save? Record the prices (smartphones are great for this), then comparison shop. When you're at the grocery store, note the unit prices of items there, then on your next warehouse club visit, compare them and find out if you're really getting a deal.

As with any store, always watch for sales. It's possible a discount at the local supermarket may beat the warehouse club price. Finally, watch the sizes on food items – if half of your purchase goes bad before you eat it, you haven't saved anything.

That said, there are some items that are often better buys at warehouse clubs. Here are 18 that will help you get the most from your membership.

The 18 best buys at warehouse stores:

The 18 best buys at warehouse stores
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The 18 best buys at warehouse stores

1. Alcohol

Beer, wine, liquor: Pretty much all of it is cheaper at a warehouse store. Unopened wine stored properly keeps practically forever as does hard liquor, and what are the odds the beer will stay around long enough to turn? Added bonus: Many states even allow non-members to buy booze. Call your closest store and ask.

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2. Medications

Warehouse stores can save you on both prescription and nonprescription drugs, although you still should shop around. Over-the-counter meds are almost always cheaper at warehouse stores, but since they can lose potency over time, watch the quantity.

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3. Dairy

Milk can be super cheap. The downside is you might have to buy two gallons at once, so make sure you’ll use all of it before the expiration date. Cheese can also be a good buy, along with eggs.

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4. Organic produce

Yet another of those things that can be cheap but is often also offered in large quantities at warehouse stores. If you can’t use all of it before it goes bad, share with a friend.

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5. Meat

Meats, both regular and organic, can be a great deal at warehouse clubs. Freeze it, and it will last for a long time.

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6. Coffee

Prices for whole beans can be less than half, per pound, what a grocery store charges, let alone a coffee shop. Just make sure you’ll use it before it becomes stale.

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7. Pet supplies

Dog and cat food can be cheap, but be wary of the package size – pet food can go bad, too. Other things, like cat litter, can be a great deal and obviously last. Chew toys for dogs, as well as rawhide bones and dog biscuits are often cheaper than at the pet store.

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8. Gas

Gas at the pump at the warehouse store is often a few cents cheaper and allows you to kill two birds with one stone. Be sure to gas up first; you don’t want to find yourself waiting in line for a pump with perishables in the trunk.

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9. Tires

Tires are often a good deal, and many clubs will install them for you for low, or sometimes no, charge.

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10. Caskets

Of course, nobody wants to feel like they’re cutting corners when making funeral arrangements, but some warehouse clubs offer steeply discounted caskets. If you can get the same quality for a lower price, why not?

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11. Batteries

Disposable batteries can be much cheaper at warehouse clubs, and might mean you don’t need a second mortgage to power your video game controllers.

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12. Laundry detergent

Giant containers of soap don’t go bad if they’re stored properly. Watch the bleach, though, which has a shelf-life of only about six months.

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13. Paper goods

While warehouse clubs often offer giant packages at low prices, toilet paper or paper towels can sometimes be cheaper if you get them on sale at the grocery store. Look for coupons and compare prices. This is another item you don’t have to worry about going bad.

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14. Electronics

You’re probably going to shop around before you plunk down a thousand bucks for the gigantic 4K TV. When you’re shopping, consider more than price. Some warehouse clubs have better warranties. Also, check the club website as well as the brick-and-mortar store. There will sometimes be a price difference between the two.

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15. Travel packages

Car rentals, hotels and travel in general are worth checking out. Costco and BJ’s wholesale clubs each offer travel deals through their websites. Prices and deals vary, but it’s worth the extra couple of minutes to check their prices against more traditional travel sites.

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16. Services

People may not be aware that some warehouse chains offer to help you buy a car, get a mortgage or shop for insurance. There are far too many variables involved in those sorts of purchases to make blanket statements about whether or not it would be a good deal, but it never hurts to check.

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17. Clothes

The selection of colors and sizes isn’t as good as what you’ll find at a department store. But if you find something you like that fits, the price will often be better.

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18. Plastic bags

Everything from full-sized trash bags all the way down to sandwich bags will come at a lower price and will keep until you use them.

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