For the frequent grocery shopper who’s looking to save as much money as possible, Costco and Aldi are two retailers that many bargain hunters pledge their loyalty to. While both stores offer tons of deals on everyday essentials, the basic principles behind each company’s money-saving strategies differ quite a bit.

If you’re considering getting a Costco membership and enjoying free sample snacks every time you shop or wondering if heading over to Aldi may be a more affordable option, read on for everything you need to know about Costco vs Aldi!

Costco Membership Fees

Costco provides unbelievable deals to customers year-round—but there is a catch to enjoying these savings. Customers who wish to shop at Costco are required to have a paid annual membership. To obtain a Costco membership card, the most affordable option is a $60 a year basic plan.

For customers looking for an experience with a few more bells and whistles, Costco also offers a Gold Star Executive Membership that costs $120 a year. The Gold Star Membership is a rewards program that provides a 2% cashback bonus at the end of each year. The rules and restrictions of this program are as follows:

  • Customers can receive 2% of their total yearly spending at Costco.
  • The maximum amount of cashback is capped at $1,000.
  • Once you receive your cashback reward it can’t be used to purchase alcohol, tobacco, or gas.

The price of the membership probably constitutes a good deal for most shoppers who have a big grocery budget annually and want access to Costco stores and Costco prices. However, because the retailer sells in bulk, massive Costco grocery hauls don't necessarily make sense for every shopper-- if you live alone it's unlikely you'll be buying spices by the pound.

Does Aldi Require a Membership?

Aldi offers a more straightforward grocery store experience. Shopping at Aldi requires no membership feeand anyone can utilize the savings they offer.

Great savings for free? You might be wondering. But what’s the catch?

In addition to no membership fee, Aldi also does not offer a rewards program. While this may be a dealbreaker for shoppers who love earning in-store points, it’s important to understand that a rewards program does not always equal better savings. Beyond these membership programs, shoppers should also take a look at the pricing of individual items to see how the two stores compare in terms of savings. You might find that Aldi savings on one item are better than that same item offered at Costco—and vice versa.

Costco vs Aldi Pricing

The ways in which Costco and Aldi provide customers with savings are unique to each store. The types of products you want, the quantity in which you want them, and the importance of brand names are all factors that will determine where you should be doing your shopping. For more savings tips, read our article to see if you can save more money at Sam’s club vs Costco!

Costco Shoppers Buy in Bulk

The key to saving money at Costco is buying items in bulk. Costco sells products in larger quantities than other stores. This method of shopping is preferred by many customers for a few different reasons:

  • Buying in bulk cuts down on frequent trips to the store.
  • Costco’s large quantities are sold at a lower price than individual items.
  • Purchasing items in bulk creates savings over time.

If you’re struggling to understand how buying more can lead to spending less, here is a real-life example of pricing at Costco vs. a regular grocery store:

A 64-count of Lay’s BBQ potato chip bags costs $29.99 at Costco. While this may seem like a lot of money to spend on chips, it actually means you’re spending less on each bag. At $29.99 for a 64-count, each scrumptious bag of chips is only going to cost the customer $0.47. Compare that to the average cost of one bag of chips, which is typically several dollars, at a normal store. Did someone say tasty savings?

Now imagine employing this technique to all your grocery shopping and household needs. Though you may be spending a lot at once, you’re saving money on your grocery bill over time by getting products at wholesale.

Aldi Savings

Aldi’s approach to saving customers money differs greatly from Costco’s bulk-buying technique. About 90% of Aldi’s inventory is exclusive products that can only be purchased at Aldi locations. This means the types of products you’re getting will be similar to those at another store, but without the familiar logo and subsequent higher prices that come with purchasing brand name items.

By selling Aldi exclusive items, the store saves money on stocking their shelves. Aldi doesn’t have to compete with other retailers to gain the business of brand name food companies. Instead, Aldi simply pays the costs of manufacturing products, and can therefore sell items for lower prices than other grocery stores.

To explain Aldi’s savings technique, the BBQ chip example can be used again. While prices can vary between locations, a 6.25 oz bag of Aldi brand BBQ chips will typically cost around $2.29.

This means a larger bag of potato chips costs about the same as an individual bag (1.5 ounces) from a typical grocery store or gas station. While this price is higher than the individual cost of each Costco bag of chips, it may be a better option for customers who don’t enjoy buying in bulk. So your hunger for savings may be satiated just well at Aldi as at Costco.

Costco vs. Aldi: Which is Better?

Both Costco and Aldi provide greater savings to customers than the average grocery store. That being said, the right choice for each person is going to depend on their unique needs.

Costco is great for customers who like to do all their shopping at once. If you don’t mind spending a lot during your Costco grocery hauls in order to save money in the long run, Costco is by far the most affordable option.

For shoppers who want to make regular trips to the store, and spend as little as possible each time, Aldi is the way to go. If you’re not a stickler for brand names, and prefer savings over rewards points, consider shopping at Aldi instead.

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