The Best and Worst Things You Can Buy at Wholesale Clubs

Why pick up a case of beer but not the 8-pound jar of mayo?

ELKRIDGE, MD, USA - APRIL 30, 2017: Costco Wholesale showing a large influx of shoppers, creating a checkout line that stretches halfway back though the store. Jeramey Lende / Shutterstock

Warehouse club stores like Costco, BJ’s and Sam's Club require you to purchase a yearly membership in exchange for the opportunity to buy in bulk at low prices --- and eat so many samples, you practically get a free lunch.

Buying food and household goods in the bigger sizes sold at wholesale clubs can save time and money. However, not everything stacked to the ceiling at club stores is a good deal.

We’ve broken down the best and worst items, to help you get the most from your club membership.

The Best

1. Gasoline

HUMBLE, TEXAS, US-OCT 28, 2016: Costco gas station with customers refueling.
Trong Nguyen / Shutterstock
Customers line up for inexpensive gas at a Costco warehouse club store.

The cheapest gas in at least half the states is found at one of the major warehouse club chains — Costco, BJ's and Sam's Club — according to GasBuddy.

Prices can be several cents a gallon less that you'll find anywhere else.

The Sam’s Club MasterCard also gives 5% cash back when you buy gas at those stores. As long as you pay your credit card off in full each month, the cash back from filling up your tank can more than make up the $45 cost of a standard Sam's Club membership.

2. Soft drinks and alcohol

HUMBLE, TEXAS,US-MAY 21, 2017:Aisle of bottles in wine section of Costco store.
Trong Nguyen / Shutterstock
Wholesale club stores have good prices on wine, beer and other beverages.

Food and drinks for weddings, graduation parties and other big family get-togethers can cost a fortune. Warehouse clubs offer big discounts per ounce on soft drinks and alcohol, and the savings will seriously add up if you buy large quantities.

Of course, the downside is that bulking up on those drinks probably isn’t good for your waistline.

Even in states like New Jersey that bar alcohol sales at supermarkets, warehouse clubs are able to sell alcohol in select locations.