If you're looking for the best AA batteries, look no further than the house brand at one of my favorite stores!
The January 2014 issue of Consumer Reports magazine rates AA batteries, and the only battery with the vaunted "Best Buy" checkmark is Costco Wholesale's Kirkland Signature (alkaline). It received a score of 52 and has a unit price of 50 cents per pair -- though they're only available in 48 packs.
A variety of Duracell batteries scored anywhere from 51 to 57 on the tally, but their prices range from 4 times to nearly 5 times the cost of the Kirkland Signature batteries.
The highest rated of all AA batteries was the Energizer Ultimate, which is mostly for cameras. But at $5.50 for a pair, that's 11 times the cost of the Kirkland Signature!
Consumer Reports didn't test a lot of other store brands. But they did test the Toys "R" Us Ultra brand and it got a horrendous score of 28. Now that is a private label you should *not* buy.
Know that when you go to look at batteries, most store brands will perform virtually identical to the name brand. That's because the store brands are made by the same name brand manufacturers.
As for Costco batteries, I cross a line sometimes that is totally wrong. I'll be in Costco and I'll see somebody put name brand batteries in their shopping cart. I know it's not my place to do so, but I direct them to Kirkland Signature brand anyway. Oh, the looks I get when I do that!
For further reading: