BJ’s Wholesale Club, commonly referred to as BJ’s, is known for bulk shopping and low prices on everyday items like groceries, electronics, tires, gas, and more.
Unfortunately, these perks come at a cost. To get access, you need to pay for a membership.
So is BJ’s Wholesale Club worth the membership fee?
BJ’s is worth it if you have a large household, plenty of storage, and live within 20 minutes of a store. Otherwise, you might be better off shopping at stores that don’t charge an annual fee.
In this article, I dive deeper into this topic, breaking down the pros and cons of BJ’s. Keep reading to find out if the benefits of a membership outweigh the cost.
Use the links below to navigate the guide:
- Membership Costs
- BJ’s Wholesale Club Membership Pros
- BJ’s Wholesale Club Membership Cons
- How to Get the Most Out of BJ’s Wholesale Club
- Bottom Line: Is a BJ’s Wholesale Club Membership Worth It?
BJ’s Wholesale Club Membership Costs
Before I explain the pros and cons of a BJ’s Wholesale Club membership, let’s explore the membership tiers. There are three tiers with different pricing and perks.
BJ’s basic membership is called Inner Circle. This tier costs $55 per year and allows you to add one additional member of your household for free, plus three other members for $30 each (also per year).
The Perks Rewards tier is $110 per year and includes the same perks as the Inner Circle tier, plus you get 2% cash back, double or triple cashback during special events, and access to travel benefits.
The Business membership can be purchased at either of the previous levels but comes with tax perks and the option to add eight additional members instead of three.
Here’s a quick comparison of BJ’s membership fees versus its competitors. As shown in the table below, BJ’s fees are slightly less than Costco’s but more than Sam’s Club’s.
|Wholesale Club||Annual Membership Cost*||Key Benefit|
|BJ’s Wholesale Club||$55 / $110||Store access / 2% cash back|
|Costco||$60 / $120||Store access / 2% reward|
|Sam’s Club||$50 / $110||Store access / 2% cash back|
BJ’s Wholesale Club Membership Pros
Now that you know how much a BJ’s membership costs, let’s look at the key benefits of joining.
Since BJ’s is a wholesale warehouse, it can charge a lower per-unit price for its products by selling in bulk. If you shop smart and plan your bulk purchases, you can save significant money on household goods.
With some strategic planning, you can recoup your membership fee in just a few visits (more about this later).
How can BJ’s offer lower prices?
BJ’s pits suppliers against each other by stocking their shelves with just a few different brands within each product category.
For example, instead of selling eight different ketchup brands, BJ’s only sells one. Suppliers compete for these coveted slots, driving costs down for BJ’s customers.
Exclusivity on the shelves combined with BJ’s purchasing power provides significant leverage when negotiating with suppliers.
Additionally, their membership business model gives BJ’s access to valuable customer data (i.e., what you buy and when you buy it). In its prospectus, BJ’s mentions, “This member data allows us to better execute supplier renegotiations, competitive contract options, SKU optimization and brand switching.”
Lastly, each customer is required to show their membership card at the door before entering the store and while checking out at the register. And a BJ’s employee checks every customer’s receipt on the way out. These systems drastically reduce theft, and those savings are passed onto members.
BJ’s memberships come with an online registration that lets you access your perks, check your receipts, plan your purchases, and order items for delivery or pickup.
Shopping on BJs.com can save you a lot of time and stress, and it helps to keep your membership details organized by storing them in one place.
BJ’s can deliver your groceries the same day you order them. If you live close to a BJ’s location, groceries can be delivered in as few as two hours after placing the order.
You can use the BJ’s app or website to place an order for pickup. Once the order is ready, a staff member will bring the items to you and help load them into your car. Just park in a designated Free Pickup spot and alert them via the app.
BJ’s lets you use manufacturer’s coupons at checkout — a benefit that competitors like Costco and Sam’s Club don’t offer. Combining bulk savings with savings from coupons can save you lots of money.
BJ’s Wholesale Club owns two private-label brands: Berkley Jensen and Wellsley Farms. Since BJ’s controls the entire supply chain from manufacturing to distribution, they often charge less for these products.
While Costco only accepts Visa cards, BJ’s accepts Mastercard, Visa, American Express, and Discover. You can use any of these cards while buying in-person or online.
Like most large chains, BJ’s offers its own credit card and grants special discounts, benefits, and incentives to cardholders.
BJ’s credit card comes in two forms:
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- BJ’s Perks Plus Mastercard: Inner Circle Members ($55 per year) are eligible to apply for this card, and with it, you get 3% cash back on most in-store purchases.
- BJ’s Perks Elite Mastercard: BJ’s Perks Rewards Members ($110 per year) are eligible to apply for this card. But instead of 3%, you get 5% cash back on most in-store purchases.
Both cards include 1% cash back at other retailers, 2% cash back at restaurants, 10 cents off per gallon on gas (at a BJ’s gas station), various rewards that change month by month, and no annual fees. However, you need a BJ’s membership to be eligible, which comes at a cost.
If you do the math, you need to spend at least $2750 in the first year for the BJ’s Perks Elite Mastercard to be worth the extra $55 that the Perks Elite Membership costs. The savings can be significant if you plan to spend much more than $2750.
One of the best parts of being a member of a Wholesale Club is access to the brand’s gas stations. BJ’s is no exception.
BJ’s gas stations often have lower prices, and their fuel saver program allows you to save even more. Eligible purchases (marked with a special fuel saver sticker) reduce the cost of each gallon of gas you purchase from a BJ’s location.
These savings appear automatically when you scan your card at the pump. You’ll save even more if you have a BJ’s Perks Mastercard.
BJ’s doesn’t just sell groceries and home goods — it also offers a range of specialized goods and services, from car tires to travel packages. BJ’s even provides optical care, so you can get your vision tested and your prescriptions filled in-store.
When you’re a Wholesale Club member, you can take advantage of generous discounts to save your family a lot of money (and time). It’s worth checking on BJ’s specialty services before you look elsewhere.
BJ’s Wholesale Club has a forgiving returns policy, with most items eligible for return up to one year after purchase.
Some products, such as electronics and appliances, must be returned within three months (90 days).
This policy has certain restrictions, including items you’ve opened and damaged, discounted products, or expired food items.
Review the full return policy on BJ’s official website to learn more.
BJ’s Wholesale Club Membership Cons
Now that you know the benefits of a BJ’s Wholesale Club membership, let’s review the cons.
Like any other wholesale club, you have to pay an annual membership fee to shop at BJ’s. As mentioned, the low-cost membership fee is $55 per year, and the higher tier is $110 annually. Make sure you add this fee to your overall costs when calculating how much you’ve spent vs. saved.
It’s nearly impossible to calculate a true break-even since the savings vary by product. But if you don’t think you’ll shop there regularly, it might not be worth the membership fees.
Compared to other larger Wholesale chains, like Costco, BJ’s locations are limited. There are approximately 200 stores across 16 US states, and they are primarily located along the East Coast.
There are BJ’s stores in the following states:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- Rhode Island
Before considering the pros and cons, make sure you can actually access a BJ’s Wholesale Club location by using the brand’s store locator tool.
BJ’s Wholesale Club’s low prices rely on a wholesale sales model, meaning it primarily sells items in bulk. If you have a small household, you might struggle to use up all of the product.
Before purchasing products with an expiration date, note how often your household uses the item.
You don’t want to artificially increase your consumption just to prevent wasting the product. It’s better to shop realistically and only buy what you know you’ll be able to use.
Similarly, make sure you have enough space in your refrigerator, pantry, basement, or closet to store these bulk items.
It’s nice to save on toilet paper, but if you can’t fit a 36-pack in your bathroom and have no other place to put it, bulk shopping isn’t the best option.
Since BJ’s is a wholesale store that already offers significant savings and allows coupons, sales are less frequent than at typical retailers.
Occasionally your local grocery store or appliance center might offer a better deal on certain items. It’s worth comparing prices (including any discounts) before shopping at BJ’s Wholesale Club.
The wholesale business model depends on purchasing large quantities of products from a few producers. That means that BJ’s brand variety is limited.
In other words, there’s a good chance they don’t sell the specific brand of mustard or almond milk that everyone in your household loves.
If you favor specific brand-name products, check to ensure BJ’s carries them before committing to a membership.
Since food items at BJ’s are sold in bulk, buying perishable items is risky. Throwing away rotten or expired food is wasteful and diminishes the savings your annual membership fee gives you access to.
Keep that in mind when looking for items like fresh produce, meats, and dairy products at BJ’s. It’s better to stick to non-perishable items.
How to Get the Most Out of BJ’s Wholesale Club
The value you get from your BJ’s membership depends on whether you take advantage of all the perks. Not every product in the store is a deal — you need to be strategic to maximize the savings and benefits.
Here are eight tips to help you get the most out of your BJ’s membership.
The BJ’s Perks card offers savings, cashback rewards, and special offers exclusive to cardholders. These perks more than cover BJ’s annual club fee (if you shop frequently) and allow you to get the most out of your membership.
BJ’s Fuel Saver program is one of the best ways to maximize your membership benefits. If you purchase an item on the qualified Fuel Saver Program list, you automatically get 10 cents per gallon off at the pump. Plus, BJ’s gas prices are often several cents less per gallon than other non-wholesale stations.
Don’t limit yourself to groceries and home goods – BJ’s offers significant savings on specialty products like travel packages, auto services, electronics, and prescriptions.
Your membership comes with a curbside pickup and home delivery service. These services can make your shopping easier, quicker, and less stressful.
Do your research and track BJ’s deals before you head to the store. If you know what you’re interested in buying, you can search for deals ahead of time – visit the deals page on BJs.com to see what’s on sale.
BJ’s stores are huge, and it’s easy to lose track of your priorities when faced with so much temptation. Bring a list to make sure you don’t leave with more than you came for (and far less money than you came with).
When buying in bulk, it’s always smarter to stick with non-perishable products like paper products and frozen, canned, and dried food. BJ’s membership fees are certainly not worth it if you throw hundreds of dollars of expired products into the trash each month.
While BJ’s offers impressive deals and savings, it’s still a good idea to compare their prices to other local stores before shopping. Seasonal sales, deals on brand-name products, and store-specific coupons can sometimes offer better savings outside of BJ’s.
So, what’s the verdict? Is a BJ’s Wholesale Club membership worth it?
If you have a large household (i.e., you live with two or more people), are within 20 minutes of a BJ’s store, plan to shop and buy gas frequently, and sign up for a BJ’s Mastercard, then the membership is more than worth the annual fee.
As a general rule, you need to spend approximately $2000 a year at BJ’s to capture enough savings to cover the membership fee. However, you can recoup it much faster if you take advantage of major deals.
If you have a smaller household and don’t live close to a BJ’s store or have the storage space for bulk items, then the membership isn’t worth it.
Ultimately the choice is yours, but you now have the information needed to make an informed choice.
Learn more about BJ’s or apply for a membership on BJs.com.
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