For the millions of Americans who have a Costco Wholesale membership, filling up at one of the warehouse club’s gas stations can be a great way to save a buck or two.
But buying gas at Costco is a little bit different from your average gas station and it takes some getting used to.
Costco gasoline: 7 things you need to know before you fill up
Whether you’re a new member or someone who has been carrying a Costco membership card for years, read on for some tips to save time, money and hassle at the pump…
1. Check the price before you hop in the car
My local Costco displays the price for gas at the entrance of the warehouse club and also by the food court, but it’s a good idea to use an app like GasBuddy to search for cheap gas before you leave home.
I’ve learned over time that the Costco where I live typically sells gas 30 cents below its nearest competitor.
If the price difference is less significant for you, it may not be worth getting in the car and driving to Costco to fill up when there’s a cheaper option nearby.
GasBuddy’s free mobile app works with iPhones and Androids. Read more here.
2. Know the best time of the day and week to buy gas
You’ll often find a long line of vehicles waiting to buy gas at Costco. That’s why it’s best to schedule your trip during off-peak hours, like early afternoons during the middle of the week.
You may also beat the crowds by going first thing in the morning, when the gas station is open and the warehouse club isn’t.
For example, my Costco is open from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. during the week, but the gas station’s hours of operation are 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Find your local station’s hours here.
3. It doesn’t matter which side the gas tank is on
Before you pull up to the pump at any other gas station, you have to think about which side of the car your gas tank is on — but not at Costco!
There’s a one-way traffic flow and extra-long pump hoses allow you to fill up from either side.
4. Do NOT block the middle lane
If you don’t buy gas at Costco often, you may be confused about why there’s a middle lane. But it’s another way that the station’s design can get you going faster.
Here’s a common scenario: There are two pumps in your lane and the car in front leaves the station first.
The middle lane gives the next car waiting in line enough space to get around the other car that’s still at the second pump and make their way to the first pump.
To avoid any delays, never block the middle lane by standing in it or leaving your car door wide open.
5. Have your membership card handy
Costco gas stations are for members only. When you approach the pump, you must insert your membership card first, followed by a Visa credit card or most PIN debit cards.
Costco Cash Cards are also accepted, and those customers don’t need to be club members. Read the policy here.
6. Costco Anywhere Visa cardholders save more money
There’s an extra incentive for members who have the Costco Anywhere Visa by Citi credit card to buy gas. They receive 4% cash back on eligible gas purchases, including gas at Costco.
The 4% cash back is for the first $7,000 in gasoline purchases per year, then it drops to 1% cash back.
7. Only Top Tier gasoline is sold at Costco
Costco’s gas may be the cheapest in town, but it’s still high-quality. Kirkland Signature fuel meets Top Tier standards, which means it has deposit control additives to clean your engine and help it run more efficiently.
It doesn’t matter whether you buy regular or premium grades of fuel, you’re always getting Top Tier gas at Costco.