When it comes to big ticket kitchen appliances, saving even 5% on one item means holding onto a pretty tidy sum. So it pays to shop around and make sure you're getting the best bargain out there. Retail giants Costco and Amazon regularly go head to head in the war of prices, battling it out for your business, and that includes fridges, stoves, and microwaves. So, we wanted to know: which is cheaper?
LendEDU recently compared shopping carts filled with 38 identical items at each of the stores (online at Amazon versus Costco's brick and mortar stores). They concluded that, on average, shopping at Amazon cost more (by about 12%) than at Costco. We also did our own informal side-by-side study. While there were a few exceptions, overall Costco was the clear low price champion in both cases.
For new home appliances, the same holds true, and by even greater margins. The average price difference between Amazon and Costco home appliances was a whopping 39 percent. This includes smaller items, like an iRobot vacuum cleaner or Keurig coffee maker, but also some larger kitchen appliances, like a Whirlpool 25 Inch French Door + Drawer Refrigerator. In one case, the researcher found the same Panasonic microwave that retailed at Costco for $99 was $199 at Amazon — a 100% difference. You can read the entire report over at LendEDU.
But it's important to keep in mind a couple of things while comparing options: namely shipping, availability and installation. Costco's listed prices include in-home delivery, basic parts and hookup, and haul away services (along with warranties, technical support, etc...) in certain areas. If you are eligible for the service, according to their webpage, the estimated delivery time will be 2 - 3 weeks from the time of order (you can plug in your zip code for a better idea). So plan accordingly if you go this route and factor in that added time, but know that everything is included.
Amazon is a little complicated. A very small number of appliances are eligible for Prime delivery, making them a super fast option, especially if you live in remote locations. A wider range of products come from third parter sellers, but often slower, more standard delivery times apply (along with, I've noticed, much higher prices).
With Amazon, appliances will also most likely be delivered to your curb, making it necessary to lug them inside, find someone to do the actual installation, and then take away any old appliances. This works if you are in the middle of a renovation and have a contractor who can do the heavy lifting and install for you, or if you are comfortable with the DIY route.
While poking around, I noticed Amazon does occasionally offer an added option for installation on some of its appliances. Look for the button that says "include installation" in the description of the item. For just under $200, a local provider will schedule a time to come to your house to do it for you, and take away your old appliance.
Here's a quick case study to illustrate. The GE dishwasher model above is available via Prime right now for $859.00 from Amazon and ships within 3-5 days to any zip code. With the added installation option mentioned above, it comes to $1,051.09 (with no word on how long it will take to get someone to your house). The same model is cheaper at Costco for $799 (with a membership), with a full service package already included. But, a quick search of my hometown of Barnard, VT says delivery isn't available to that location — nor is Sterling, IL, where we have a kitchen reno happening right now. It is available in St. Louis at the moment, where I currently live, and can be delivered by 12/16, according to the Costco website —which is faster than even Amazon Prime, at a cheaper price.
So, bottom line is this: don't just look at the listed price. Factor in availability in your location, time, installation, and shipping costs to determine what works for you. There are a lot of variables at work here, and no two buying circumstances are the same.