Kroger vs Costco Which One is Better?

This is a comprehensive comparison of two heavyweights in the retail market, Costco and Kroger. One engaged in the traditional grocery selling, and the other engaged in the newer, trendier, warehouse club business model, these two companies have a lot in common, and a lot that’s different.

Kroger is better for poeple who are looking for a wide variety of food selection. Costco is better for bulk buy shoppers that are looking for all kinds of products including electronics, clothes, hardwares and food.

Who Should Shop at Kroger?

Kroger started life as a walk-in grocery store. And it’s still the business model. But today Kroger is not only the corner grocery store. Today Kroger is gradually stepping into the warehouse market model too.

This gradual transition would make Kroger an ideal shopping destination for both bargain shoppers and commercial consumers in the future. 

Before we compare these Titans we must take a look at their sizes.

Who Should Shop at Costco?

Whether you are grocery shopping for the next week or buying items in bulk for a get-together, Costco has a great selection of items, in suitable quantities for great prices.

Those who are brand concerned will be delighted to see some of the reputed brands there. And if you are looking for some exotic ingredients then you might find them there.

Costco is also an ideal place for small business owners. Resellers can buy in bulk for great value, and all they need would be the Business Membership.

Business Model

Costco has fewer warehouses but they are present in more locations worldwide. Kroger, on the other hand, operates only in the US but has more stores.

Costco has more assets and revenue than Kroger, the store in operation for 138 years.

There are some differences in the concepts of these marketplaces. Kroger is powered by their century-old traditional model of sales while Costco follows the new age concept of membership-based warehouse club while Costco has an emphasis on wholesale and internet presence.

However, with warehouse clubs taking root, Kroger also has entered the digital transformation. In the first quarter of 2021, they had achieved a 16% growth in digital sales.  

With all those differences there’s one important thing that matters: both sellers target the consumers of the same income classes and same geographic areas.

Costco Business Model

Costco is a Warehouse Club. It’s a concept that has become popular among general shoppers, bargain hunters, and resellers alike. Items can be bought in large quantities, and the prices are generally low, while a membership fee is charged annually to obtain their services.

Costco is present in 804 locations worldwide (Australia, New Zealand, Canada, China, France, Iceland, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, United Kingdom, and the United States).

Total assets US$45.40 billion (2019)

But with their aggressive expansion plans successfully afoot, and with popular reception of the relatively new warehouse club concept, they added 8 more locations to the above list including in Japan, Australia, and the US in the past two months alone.

Kroger Business Model

Kroger started as a retail shop 138 years ago. However, Kroger is now operational as Marketplace Stores and Price-impact warehouse stores, the latter being their take on the warehouse club business model.

Kroger has 2,732 supermarkets in the United States.

Total assets US$38.11 billion (2019)

Revenue: US$121.16 billion (2019)


Costco’s business model requires a membership card and all transactions and benefits are operated through the membership card.

Kroger’s business model is slightly different as it’s a retail store chain. While they are increasingly asserting their online presence, their business is not 100% dependent on memberships.

Costco Membership

You will need a membership card to shop at the Costco warehouse. There are also ways to shop at Costco without a membership, and health services such as Costco eye exams, hearing tests, and pharmacy do not require a membership.

Costco offers two membership types:

Membership TypeGold StarGold Star Executive
Annual RewardNo2% (up to $1000)
Benefits & DiscountsNoYes
Costco MagazineNoYes
Shop Costco.comYesYes
Includes 2 Member CardsYesYes
Cancel AnytimeYesYes
Become a Member$60/year$120/year
Source: Costco

Kroger Membership

Kroger does not require membership, but you need to create a Digital Account if you wish to shop online on

You will only need a valid email address to create the Digital Account, and if you already possess a Shopper’s Card you can sync the card with your new Digital Account.

The Kroger Digital account allows you to maintain your shopping list and view your reward points online.


Rewards are an essential element in any kind of supermarket business strategy anywhere in the world. Both Costco and Kroger know that and take efforts to add as many rewards as possible to attract more customers.

Costco Rewards

Costco Rewards are tied mainly to their membership cards. Those membership benefits include discounts and other perks depending on the membership tier. Here’s an overview of their membership cards.

FeaturesGold Star Business Executive
Add Affiliate Cardholders for $60 each (T/C)  
Purchase for resale  
Extra benefits on select Costco Travel products  
Additional benefits on Costco Services  
Annual 2% Reward on qualified Costco purchases  
Includes a free Household Card
Valid at all Costco locations worldwide
Membership Fee$60$60$120
Source: Costco Membership Comparison

Only the Gold Star and Executive Memberships are intended for the general buyers. To obtain the Business Membership you must have a business license or resale certificate.

Kroger Rewards

Kroger too has a rewards program basically by way of discounts. But their branded credit and debit cards also carry impressive savings and other perks.

Kroger Community Rewards Program is a fundraising program by Kroger to help deserving community organizations. Any Kroger customer who has a digital account can join this effort by selecting an organization listed by Kroger. Kroger will donate annually a sum based on the registered customer’s total purchase value, with no added cost.

Any organization can apply for this rewards program to receive donations. You must select a Kroger store in the same area as the requesting organization.

Proprietary Brands

Costco and Kroger sell a host of items under their private labels. While Costco sells all their company-packed items under a single private label, Kroger has many private labels.

Costco’s Kirkland is the only private label owned by the company. Although Costco owns the brand and warrants the quality of the merchandise, Kirkland items are actually manufactured by other well-established, product specialist merchants.

Kroger’s strategy in private labeling, however, is different. While they get other companies to manufacture some items under Kroger labels, Kroger has acquired some of the franchises which were then rebranded.

  • Costco Proprietary Brands: Kirkland
  • Kroger Proprietary Brands: Simple Truth, Private Selection, Kroger Brand, HemisFares, Home Chef, Murray’s Cheese, Bloom Haus, Comforts, Abound, Luvsome, Dip

Although you know that Costco owns Kirkland, you might probably be unaware that some of your favorite brands are actually owned by Kroger.

According to customer reviews, the Kirkland brand is a great alternative to some brands, and it’s value for money, Kroger has some brands with a generally good reputation while some brands are not so well received by the consumers.


Costco Payment Methods

Both establishments accept all major payment methods including their own mobile pay methods via apps downloadable on Google Play and Apple Store. Generally speaking, there’s no special advantages or drawbacks of either of these merchants in terms of their payments methods.

Costco warehouse locations accept:

  • All Visa Cards
  • The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
  • Most PIN-based Debit/ATM Cards
  • Costco Shop Cards*
  • Cash
  • Personal checks from current Costco Members
  • Business checks from current Costco Business Members
  • Traveler’s checks
  • EBT cards
  • Mobile Payment (Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay)

Costco Gas Stations:

  • All Visa Cards
  • The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
  • Most PIN-based Debit/ATM Cards
  • Costco Shop Cards*

  • All Visa Cards
  • The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
  • MasterCard
  • Discover Cards (Including JCB and Diners Club)
  • Most PIN-based Debit/ATM Cards
  • Costco Shop Cards*
  • Visa  (For more information, please view the Visa FAQs)

Kroger Payment Methods

  • 1-2-3 REWARDS® World Mastercard®
  • Kroger REWARDS Debit Card
  • Kroger Pay – additional rewards for users
  • Cash
  • Mastercard,
  • Visa® (They have lifted the ban on Visa)
  •  Discover
  • American Express
  • Cash and Personal Checks

Credit and Debit Cards

Both merchants have their own branded credit cards that come with some rewards which are not offered for other payment methods. Costco offers a Visa card while Kroger offers a Mastercard.

Costco Anywhere Visa Business Card by Citi

  • 4% on eligible gas, including gas at Costco for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter
  • 3% on restaurants and eligible travel purchase worldwide
  • 2% on all other purchases from Costco and
  • 1% on all other purchases
  • No Annual Fee but Costco Membership Mandatory to obtain the card.
  • Small business use
  • Damage & Theft Protection
  • No foreign transaction fees

Check out all features

Kroger 1-2-3 REWARDS World Mastercard®

  • An additional 55¢ off per gallon for one year each time you redeem at least 100 fuel points2 at participating Kroger REWARDS World Mastercard® Fuel Centers.
  • No annual fee. However, there are other charges, a lot of them, you must read the fine print.
  • Earn free groceries with every eligible net purchase.
  • Travel & Lifestyle Benefits
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Complimentary professional travel services
  • Emergency Benefits
  • Mastercard ID Theft Protection

Kroger REWARDS Debit Card

  • You will not be held responsible for unauthorized charges.
  • Direct Deposit
  • Reloadable
  • International Usage – Use anywhere Visa or Mastercard are accepted worldwide.

Although we don’t single out one of them as better than the other for general purchasing purposes, Costco can still accumulate reward points if you shop for Costco elsewhere in the world. Apart from that, both Costco and Kroger credit cards can be used worldwide.

Return Policies

Both marketplaces have commendable return policies. Costco has more room for returns whereas Kroger has more restrictions in their return policies. Noticeably Costco accepts eligible returns with or without receipt under the same refund policy while Kroger would only issue the refund by way of a Gift Card if the bill value is more than $10.

Costco Return Policy

  • Electronics: Electronic items can be returned within 90 days from the purchase date. Items such as appliances, TVs, computers, cameras, and other similar electronic items fall under this category. You can even return mobile phones unless bound by a carrier contract.
  • Alcohol and Cigarettes: Costco return policy states that they do not accept alcohol and cigarettes where prohibited by the law.
  • Auto: Products with a limited life expectancy, such as batteries and tires would be sold with a product-specific warranty.
  • No Returns Accepted: Items specially made to order or customized are not accepted except in the case of failure to meet item specifications.

Kroger Return Policy

You can return eligible items within a period of 30 days.

Returns with receipt:

  • There are two receipt options: paper receipt or digital receipt
  • Returns will be refunded to the same payment method that was used to make the purchase. Example: Credit Card, EBT/SNAP Card or Cash. Check purchases should be given back as Cash.

Returns without a receipt:

  • Over $10.00 will receive a Kroger Co. Family of Stores Merchandise Gift Card. The return slip must be signed by all customers with returns over $10.00
  • Under $10.00 the customer will receive cash for their returns

Although both merchants have impressive return policies Costco takes the win here as all their returns are governed by the same policies irrespective of the availability of a receipt. Kroger’s return policy is decent enough for a retailer of its model, but it stands slightly below that of Costco.


There are two main differences in this department between the two merchants. Costco sells a wide variety of meats while Kroger’s collection doesn’t contain that many brands.

Costco meat is packed in bigger quantities ( as they are known for wholesale obviously) whereas Kroger sells them in smaller quantities if needed. And if you need fresh chicken then you can get it from the Service Counter).

Kroger sells vegetables in quantities more suitable for a home. Costco vegetables are in large packs intended for bulk purchases as they are available through the business website.

Costco Foods

Costco’s fish and meat selections have local as well as exotic varieties. For example, you can buy Japanese wagyu or caviar if you can spend the hefty prices of luxury items. If you are looking for something more affordable then you have the American wagyu, or you can buy some “regular” beef.

Costco has a diverse collection of organic and non-organic fresh vegetables both seasonal and perennial. Organic carrots, organic French beans, and organic Brussels sprouts, etc. are some examples of the many common vegetables available at the Costco vegetable aisle.

Their fresh fruit selection is not bad either, with tropical fruits such as bananas and mangoes, and cold-climate fruits such as blackberries and apples to name just a few.

For those who shop at Costco for herbs and spices will not be disappointed either. From more common herbs like celery to exotic ingredients such as saffron, a wide variety of ingredients is available there.

Kroger Foods

Kroger food aisles are well stocked too. They don’t have too much focus on expensive items such as caviar but they do have a decent selection.

What we found in the Kroger meat aisle is that although they do not sell expensive items such as wagyu, they have more varieties of meat than what Costco offers. For example, Kroger has Bison and veal available at their meat counters.

Kroger brings you a variety of vegetables at affordable prices. You can buy them in the quantities you want, and buy them in-store or get delivered.

Price Comparison Example: Salmon Sockeye Fillet (Wild Caught) is sold at $12.99 per lb. at Kroger, while it’s sold at $16.99 per lb. at Costco (in 10lb packs).

If you need to stock food for the next week, or if you’re looking for a greater choice, then Costco is the place for you. Kroger, on the other hand, is especially recommended for those who are buying food items for the day’s use, and who wish to select the chunk of meat themselves before purchasing.


Electronics are an essential item for everywhere in the world. Especially in the Covid 19 era when almost everything has shifted to the internet, tech items such as mobile phones and laptops have become an essential tool of existence.

Costco and Kroger online stores have a collection of Electronic items and accessories available for purchase. Here’s a list of what they have on offer.

Costco Electronics

Costco has a decent collection of laptops and mobile phones but no as many as you would find in a specialty online store. Costco also has a good collection of TVs of popular brands Samsung, LG, Sony, VIZIO, and Hisense, ranging from $500 to $3000.

  • Audio/Video
  • Batteries
  • Cameras & Camcorders
  • Cell Phones & Accessories
  • Digital & Gaming Codes
  • Musical Instruments
  • Phones & Two-way Radios
  • Security Cameras & Video Surveillance
  • Smart Home & Safety
  • Smart Watches
  • TVs
  • Video Games & Consoles

Kroger Electronics

Has listed a variety of items but many of them are not available at the store or for delivery as they will only be shipped to your address. The main reason could be the low availability of some stocks.

  • TVs & Home Theater
  • Printers & Supplies
  • Video & Computer Gaming
  • Audio & MP3 Players
  • Computers
  • Laptops and Tablets
  • Computer Supplies & Accessories
  • Cameras & Camcorders
  • Phones
  • Fitness related


Costco offers insurance policies in multiple sectors while Kroger only directs you to a selection of medical policies. Therefore if you are planning to get an insurance policy, then it’s recommended that you look around for more choices including Costco.

Costco and Kroger offer insurance policies via affiliated partners. Costco is engaged in a wide range of insurance policies whereas Kroger insurance policies are limited to the medical sector.


  • Auto Insurance
  • Home & Condo Insurance
  • Renters Insurance
  • Umbrella Insurance
  • Specialty Insurance

The above insurance packages offer various benefits and rewards including Home Lockout Assistance, Roadside Assistance, Stolen Credit Card Use or Check Fraud Protection, Food Spoilage Protection, and Good Student Discount.


These packages are more like concessions or discounts on your medical expenses incurred for various screenings and treatments.  

Kroger offers 3 types of insurance policies via Medicare, a company that provides their insurance in association with private insurance companies. These insurance policies fall under 3 major categories:

  • Medicare Advantage (also called Medicare Part C)
  • Prescription drug coverage
  • Routine vision care
  • Routine dental care
  • Hearing aids
  • Fitness programs like SilverSneakers
  • Medicare Supplement

This category is again subcategorized into several other levels which offer a choice of the following features:  (Details)

  • Hospital Co-insurance
  • Hospital Reserve Days
  • Blood Benefit (first 3 pints)
  • co-insurance/co-payment
  • Skilled Nursing Facility coinsurance
  • Travel Benefit
  • Medicare Part D

This is a prescription drug coverage policy for those who have registered for the Part A and Part B Medicare policies.

It’s noteworthy that Kroger only recommends the Medicare plans while Medicare requires you to follow their rules to purchase healthcare coverage. Once you enter Medicare, you will find that some of the policies are supplementary offers bundled with other insurance policies.


Costco and Kroger offer a comprehensive array of services for reasonable prices. With the pandemic wreaking havoc throughout the world, both pharmacies are offering Covid19 vaccines among their vaccination programs.

Costco Pharmacy

  • Mail Order Pharmacy
  • Local Costco Pharmacy
  • Prescription medication
  • Mail order prescriptions
  • Auto refill programme
  • Warehouse pickup(from local club)
  • Prescription transfer
  • Pet medicine
  • Health & Wellness Clinic (Cancelled due to Covid19 pandemic)
  • COVID-19 immunization (Pfizer for the young aged 12-17, Moderna and J&J for adults)
  • Other vaccines

Kroger Pharmacy

The main services obtainable at the Kroger Pharmacy are:

  • Prescription medication
  • Prescription Refills
  • Prescription Transfer
  • They do not offer an auto-refill option.
  • Specialty Pharmacy- This is a Clinical Pharmacy section dedicated to serving patients with chronic illnesses requiring complex care, counselling, and therapy.

A range of vaccines is available at Kroger.

  • Covid19 vaccine
  • Flu vaccine
  • Shingles vaccine
  • TDAP vaccine
  • Pneumonia vaccine
  • Back to School vaccine – Influenza(Flu), Varicella (Chickenpox), Measles/Mumps/Rubella (MMR), Polio

Kroger Clinical Services

  • Cholesterol Screening
  • Blood Pressure Screening and Monitoring
  • Diabetes Screening and Monitoring
  • Body Fat Analysis:
  • Medication Therapy Management
  • Smoking Cessation
  • Fitness, Nutrition and Weight-Loss Program
  • Diabetes Education

For getting your prescription medication, or for a vaccine either of these pharmacies is sufficient. The only noticeable difference is that Costco has a prescription auto-refill program that would be useful for some consumers.

However, the screening services of Kroger might become enormously useful for some consumers due to the pandemic restrictions. Getting a basic screening done at the local pharmacy would be convenient. Although Costco has the same services they have canceled them due to the pandemic.

Considering all services available at Costco and Kroger pharmacies, Kroger pharmacy provides services for a wider range of consumers than Costco does.  

Gas Station

Costco Gas

Available at Costco are:

  • Kirkland Signature Petrol and Kirkland Signature™ Diesel
  • Regular and Premium gas

In addition, you can get car wash services at locations in Arizona, California, Idaho, Tennessee, and Washington.

The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi is eligible for cash back rewards on gas.

Kroger Gas

Kroger owned more than 300 fuel centers (Loaf ‘N Jug, Kwik Shop, Quik Stop, Tom Thumb, and Turkey Hill ) before they sold them in 2018. However, Kroger retained the ownership of 21 of them and continues to operate them. Currently, they are opening fuel pumps at their supermarkets as separate fuel units.

Costco Gas Centers are well settled in the business whereas Kroger Gas Centers are merely some locations where customers can redeem their Gas Points accumulated through shopping. Although they had built an empire of fuel stations after the acquisition of Loaf ‘N Jug and Kwik Shop, they don’t seem to focus on the petroleum sector anymore. That leaves this a race between these two establishments.

Having said that, it should also be noted that Kroger has partnered with many fuel locations to let members redeem their Gas Points.

Auto Center

Costco has a well-established tire and auto department. Kroger has some general auto accessories only. However, they have partnered with TrueCar for an auto buying program.

Costco Tire and Auto Service

  • Auto & Truck Accessories
  • Motor Oil
  • Garage & Shop Accessories
  • Car Electronics
  • Interstate Batteries – Car, Truck & Recreational Batteries
  • ATV, Golf & Trailer Tires
  • Wash & Wax
  • Wheels and Tires

Kroger Auto

Kroger stores have a very limited collection of auto-related accessories and parts under several categories.

  • Accessories
  • Oils & Maintenance
  • Washes & Wax
  • Parts

Before you head over to Kroger for auto parts please be advised that as of the time this review is compiled, there’s only one item under the Parts category.

Kroger Auto Buying Program is in partnership with TrueCar. Through this program, Kroger members get a host of benefits when they are buying a new or used car.

Member benefits on new cars

  • See what others recently paid for the same vehicle of interest in a local area
  • Save on average over $3,400 off MSRP*
  • Get real pricing on actual inventory on the dealer’s lot
  • Access to TrueCar’s Certified Dealer Network, which includes more than 16,500 dealers nationwide
  • Complimentary Fuel VIP membership (normally a $40 annual fee) with purchase

‍Member benefits on used cars

  • Save hundreds off list price with member discounts**
  • Choose from more than 1,000,000 used vehicles for sale nationwide
  • Access to vehicle condition summaries
  • Complimentary Fuel VIP membership (normally a $40 annual fee) with purchase

While Costco has a comprehensive collection of auto-related accessories for sale, Kroger only has several items on its racks. Kroger indeed has an auto-buying program but that’s in partnership with a third-party auto dealer. Hence Costco warehouse club is the front runner in auto-related services between these two merchants.

Special Offers

Costco Offers

Costco offers a selection of popular items for discounted prices. Discounted items may range from simple cosmetic items to expensive TVs, and most of these items are available both online and in the warehouse.

Kroger Special Offers

As a grocery store, Kroger brings some special offers regularly. These offers are usually meant for the general buyer shopping for a home.

  • Digital Coupons
  • SAVE $1 Each When You Buy 5+
  • 10 for $10 School Supplies
  • Summer Grilling

A selection of items is sold at discounted prices in the above offers. Usually, these offers do not apply to fast-moving items in the departments.

Kroger In-store Services

  • Coinstar – turn your spare coins to cash
  • No Contract Wireless– a wide selection of reload packages from Tracfone, Simple Mobile, Total Wireless, AT&T, and Kroger Wireless.
  • Western Union – money transfer service
  • Check Cashing
  • Recall Alerts – notices about recalled items
  • Bill Pay – pay bills to over 15,000 billers through Western Union, MoneyGram, CheckFreePay, FirsTech and Fidelity Express.