We compared prices at the Exchange and Walmart so you don’t have to


walmart exchange
(Photo: Wikimedia)

By Julie Provost

The first time I ever went into an Exchange was in Germany. I walked into the PX and thought to myself, “This is kinda like Walmart. Kinda.” As I became a regular shopper at the PX, I started to see that the Exchange was a bit different than the Walmarts I was used to.

So what store is cheaper? Which one has the best deal?

I went to the PX at Fort Campbell and compared prices to the Walmart in Oak Grove, KY, just outside of the gate. Walmart did have sales tax, so you have to keep that in mind when shopping off base.

Grill

Weber 22-Inch Charcoal Grill

Walmart: $148

The Exchange: $149

Since these two are almost the same price, think about taxes as well as the gas, wear-and-tear on your car, and the time it will take you to get to each place.

Camera

Canon EOS Rebel T6 Digital SLR Camera with 18.0 Megapixels. (The camera comes with the 18-55 mm and 75-300 mm lenses.)

Walmart: $447.95

The Exchange: $449.95

The prices are very similar, but this is when the tax is going to make a big difference. The tax rate at the Walmart I went to in Kentucky is six percent. I would have had to spend an additional $26.88 just on tax.

Pots and pans

Pioneer Woman Vintage Speckle 10-Piece Non-Stick Pre-Seasoned Cookware Set

Walmart: $99.00

Exchange: $99.99

Again, these are very similar prices if you don’t add tax; once you do, the Exchange wins.

Bedding

For the bed set, I compared the Martha Stewart 10-piece king set at the Exchange to the Better Homes and Gardens 7-piece king set at Walmart. (These were the biggest sets at both locations.)

Walmart: $64

Exchange: $149.99

I also compared quilts. The Poetic Wanderlust By Tracy Porter Florabella king-sized quilt at the Exchange, and the Better Homes and Gardens king-sized quilt at Walmart.

Walmart: $64.97

Exchange: $99.99

You are going to find a better deal on bedding at Walmart. Overall they seemed to have cheaper options than the Exchange did.

Towels

I compared a basic bathroom towel; both the Exchange and Walmart had a selection of colors to choose.

Walmart: $4.34

The Exchange: $6.74

Walmart came out ahead on this one, but overall the Exchange had a more extensive variety of styles to choose from.

Bookcase

I compared the Sauder 3-shelf bookcase at the Exchange with the Better Homes and Gardens 3-shelf bookcase at Walmart.

Walmart: $69.99

The Exchange: $34.99

The Exchange was the winner for this one. Our Exchange also had a lot more furniture than our Walmart did, but you can always go online to find exactly what you want.

Game System

The XBox One S 1 TB and Gears of War 4 Bundle

Walmart: $314

The Exchange: $299 (sale price). The full price is $349.

Without the sale price, Walmart is the winner. . . even when you add tax. But if you can find the Xbox One on sale, you will be saving money by going to the Exchange.

Vacuum

The Hoover Windtunnel Bagless Vacuum

Walmart: $149

The Exchange: $134

Both the Exchange and Walmart had a good selection of vacuums, but in the case of this Hoover vacuum, the Exchange had the better price.

Dyson Small Ball Multi Floor Upright Vacuum

Walmart: $299

The Exchange: $289 on sale, $389 regular price.

Here, the regular price of the Dyson at the Exchange higher than the one at Walmart. But if you can catch this sale (or a similar one), you will be saving a lot of money by going with the Exchange.

3 Comments

  1. The both price match too, I prefer the Exchange myself. It just seems to be nicer, friendlier, helpful, quicker and more efficient (most days).

  2. From my experience / observation, the Exchange, especially for CONUS-assigned active duty living off-base & retirees, is almost never a better deal when looking at the broader spectrum. Most Walmarts are open 24/7 (Exchanges run banker’s hours in comparison), there’re all over the U.S. (way more options than Exchanges), most have groceries nowadays, & most have a far wider selection of products. Seems like the Exchanges really started becoming less & less competitive in the 90s when the 1st waves of BRAC closures hit (less buying power maybe?). Yes, the Exchanges contribute back to the bases, & yes they fill a needed role (especially overseas & for those living on-bases) but at the end of the day it’s about convenience & moreover, stretching the family dollars as far as possible…. far too often nowadays shopping at the Exchange doesn’t meet the cut.

  3. Does the Walmart price include the taxes? I agree that the prices are sometimes better at Walmart but there are a LOT of things that are cheaper at the exchange too.

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