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Is Walmart, Target, or Costco a Better Deal Than Amazon Prime?

Walmart Plus, Target Shipt, Costco, and Sam's Club could be options for people who want to dump Amazon Prime after it raised prices.
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Amazon  (AMZN)  dropped a bombshell during its earnings call Thursday when the company confirmed that it was raising the subscription price for its Prime premium service to $139 a year from $119. 

The $20 price increase may seem steep for a company that reported an operating profit of $3.5 billion in the fourth quarter, but Amazon clearly thinks it has the juice to pull off this price increase on its more than 200 million Prime members. 

And, much of Prime revolves around free shipping for items ordered from Amazon, and the company's retail business actually operated at a loss for the quarter.

Still, some Amazon Prime members may consider the increase too much and that may cause them to look for other subscription services. That could mean a similar service or it could be a bigger departure like joining a warehouse club.

Amazon, Walmart, Target, Costco Lead

Walmart Plus vs Amazon Prime

Walmart (WMT)  launched its Plus service in 2020 in direct response to Amazon taking its place as the country's largest retailer. 

Walmart charges $12.95 a month ($98 a year) for its package, which includes free shipping that's similar to what Amazon offers (albeit on tens of millions fewer items).

The biggest leg up Walmart has over Amazon is its physical footprint. Walmart stores act as fulfillment centers that shoppers can actually visit if they so choose, making buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) an option.

Walmart's mobile Scan & Go feature also allows in-person shoppers to move through the store, scan items as they shop, then checkout at self-checkout without having to scan again. 

Walmart Plus offers subscribers free next day and two-day shipping on most items at Walmart.com. Plus members also get 5 cents off per gallon at Murphy's gas stations and member pricing access at all Sam's Club fuel stations. 

Target Shipt vs Prime

Target (TGT) debuted its Shipt same-day service in 2019, two years after the company acquired a delivery startup called Shipt. 

Same-day delivery is free for members who pay a $99 annual fee and requires a minimum purchase of $35. Members can have eligible items delivered during available delivery windows.

A member could select a one-hour delivery window and a shopper will fulfill and deliver the order during normal business hours. 

Target Shipt has a very limited, but carefully curated selection of 65,000 items for Shipt. Target REDcard holders also get 5% off their purchases. 

Shoppers who don't want to commit to an annual subscription can opt to pay a $9.99 delivery fee for each order.

Costco Gold Star vs Prime

A basic Costco Gold Star membership costs $60 per year while an Executive membership costs twice that at $120. Both memberships get you into the company's warehouse "clubs," be the pricier membership comes with some perks.

Costco Executive members receive annual 2% cash back, up to $1,000, on qualified purchases at Costco, Costco.com, and Costco Travel. 

The downside for Costco is that it doesn't have the delivery apparatus that Walmart and Amazon employ. 

Costco does offer same-day grocery delivery and two-day delivery for certain zip codes, but its footprint is dependent on location and Costco stores typically carry about 4,000 products per store. 

On the flip side, if you live near a Costco the membership does offer discounts on the chain's gas stations, hearing aid center, Costco Optical and Costco Pharmacy. 

Sam's Plus vs Amazon Prime

Sam's Club subscriptions is similar to Costco in that it offers wholesale club prices online for shoppers. 

Sam's Plus is $100, more than double the regular $45 membership price. Being a Sam's Plus member entitles you to free shipping and a number of other perks. Both memberships get you access to the Walmart-owned chain's clubs.

However, like Costco, Sam's selection is more limited than its rivals. But Sam's offers "Instant Savings" on a variety of products every week.