Money expert Clark Howard loves shopping at warehouse clubs like Costco to save money on groceries and other everyday items. But did you know that you can fill up your tank at a discount, too?
If you want to save money on gas, fueling up at Costco may be the perfect solution for you and your wallet. It’s also one of the many perks that make a Costco membership worth it.
Things To Know Before You Buy Gas at Costco
In this article, I’ll share several things to know before purchasing gas from Costco and why I prefer their gas over other stations.
1. It’s for Costco Members Only (With One Exception)
Costco gas is available to Gold Star, Executive, and Business memberships, making it a great perk to their members.
The way it works is simple. Pull up to a pump and insert your membership card. Next, you can insert or tap your payment card. Lastly, select the grade of fuel and begin fueling. Note that Costco only has two grades of gas: 87 and 93.
There is one exception to the membership rule: Customers paying with a Costco Shop Card do not need a membership to purchase fuel. You do, however, need a membership to purchase a Shop Card at the customer service desk or online so this could be a great gift for your non-member friends or family.
2. Prices Are Typically Competitive
Does your Costco have a gas station? If so, you can easily track prices from the Costco website or app. If you have the Costco app, open the app, click “warehouse,” and click “see warehouse details.” Typically, operating hours and prices will be shown.
Costco has a disclaimer that says they try to update the app prices frequently, but the price may reflect a different price at the pump. This happened to me on my recent trip to Costco. When I checked the app before heading out, it was a low price, but when I arrived at Costco, it was $.02 lower than the app price.
It is important to check apps such as the Costco app or another resource like Gas Buddy to ensure it is worth the drive if you do not have a location near you. I have several Costco locations near me, but only one has a gas station. In my case, the Costco of Oceanside, NY, had the cheapest gas prices day after day vs. the stations nearby. This made the drive through three towns worth it to obtain cheaper gas. It was paired with a shopping trip at Costco and was not inconvenient.
Here are the prices that I tracked using the Gas Buddy and Costco apps in May 2023.
|Nearby Gas Station||$3.49/gal||$3.59/gal||$3.65/gal||$3.65/gal||$3.59/gal||$3.59/gal||$3.59/gal||$3.59/gal|
Using the prices above, I calculated a rough gas savings by traveling to Costco vs. a local station. My Toyota Highlander has a gas tank capacity of 17.9 gallons. The price difference on average between Costco and the other station is $.40/gallon. Assuming I was close to empty, I would have saved $7.16 by traveling to Costco vs. staying locally.
Fortunately, my local Costco’s prices are included on the Gas Buddy app. It is a great tool to see the Costco price and competitor prices all in one place.
3. It Doesn’t Matter What Side Your Gas Tank Is On
As you pull up to the pump, here is an important tip to remember: It doesn’t matter what side your gas tank is on. You heard correctly! Costco has a one-way direction and extra-long hoses that allow you to fill up from either side of your vehicle.
But remember: do not block the middle lane. The middle lane allows drivers to pass by other drivers that are currently filling their vehicles.
4. Stations Can Get Busy
Even though Costco has thought through ways to curb the congestion at their pumps, it can still be busy due to the low prices.
As a regular Costco shopper, I have noticed that the lines tend to be the longest during the weekdays, early in the morning and later in the evening. Why? I think it is because people tend to fill up before or after work. Weekends at my Costco gas station are also jam-packed. The sweet spot for filling up at my Costco is mid-day during the week.
Granted, each store varies, but there is a tool from Google that may be helpful to utilize. When I type in “Costco Gas Oceanside, NY,” I see a bar graph that displays popular times. (Just scroll down past store directions and operating times to find this feature.) Looking at the graph (on the left in the screenshot below), I can see that Costco gas is not too busy now, but around 4 p.m., it is estimated to spike. As I mentioned previously, I attribute this to people fueling up as they head home.
Also, I glanced at the weekend prediction of popular times (in the bar graph to the right) and this confirmed my in-person observation that Saturday and Sunday are by far the busiest time to fuel up.
5. Costco Anywhere Visa Cardholders Get Rewards
Have you heard Clark talk about his favorite credit cards? One of them is the Costco Anywhere Visa® as a top reward card for cash back on gas, and for a good reason.
Besides taking advantage of the low prices at the pump, you can get an additional 4% back on gas purchased at Costco.
The 4% back is capped at $7,000 in gas purchases per year and then you will only earn 1% back. It is important to note that the 4% cash back can be earned at other stations outside of Costco and anywhere that Visa is accepted.
You can check out the full review on the Costco Anywhere Visa® card.
Don’t have a Costco Visa card? No problem! At the pump, Costco accepts Visa, most PIN-based debit cards, and Costco Shop Cards.
You can load a Shop Card in the warehouse using cash or check; this option is only available to members.
6. Kirkland Signature Gas at Costco is Top Tier
Costco may have the lowest gas prices in your area, but they do not skimp on quality. Kirkland Signature gas is Top Tier, meaning it is high quality and could help keep your engine running at its best.
Top Tier is endorsed by many automotive brands, including Toyota, Honda, Ford, GM, BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz. Consumer Reports (subscription required) came out with a study in 2022 stating that Top Tier gas is worth the extra price. The good news is that Costco gas is already Top Tier and is often the cheapest station. A win-win!
Remember that Costco is currently the only warehouse club to offer Top Tier. Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale do not offer Top Tier gasoline.
The best way to ensure that you are getting a deal on fuel is to compare prices in your area and look at warehouse clubs like Costco.
Using apps such as Gas Buddy paired with checking out the best time to head over to your warehouse club may help in saving time and money on your fuel purchase.
Have you ever purchased gas from Costco? Share your experience in our Clark.com Community!