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Wholesalers like Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s Wholesale Club are known for their unbeatable deals on electronics, grocery staples, and bulk paper goods. But if you’re not buying warehouse club gas there, too, you could be missing out on some big savings.
All three major warehouse clubs use lower-than-average gas prices as a tactic for getting shoppers into parking lots, which gets potential customers one step closer to their doors. (And if you’re anything like me, you know how easy it is to start spending money as soon as you enter those doors.) But if you do fill up at their pump, just how good of a deal are you getting on gas? Is there a clear winner when it comes to the lowest gas price per gallon?
Whether you’re new to the wholesale club gas savings scene or a long-time fan, let’s break it all down right here. And remember — with any membership card, you’ll be able to save at their warehouse club gas stations anywhere in the U.S., not just at your location closest to home.
For more smart shopping tips and savings hacks, text HACKS to 57299, then download The Krazy Coupon Lady app.
Limited-time BJ’s gas deal through July 4, 2023:
They’re calling it “The Great 4th Fill-up,” and now through July 4, 2023, you’ll save $0.50 per gallon if you spend $150 in-club or online at BJ’s between June 22 – July 4, 2023. If you have a 12-gallon tank, that discount could save you $6 on a fill-up.
See more details on BJs.com.
1. You’ll need a valid membership to buy gas from Costco, Sam’s Club, or BJ’s.
Before we talk about all the potential gas savings, remember that you’ll need to shell out some money for a membership in order to get discounted gas at these wholesale clubs.
Basic annual memberships range in price from $50/year at Sam’s Club to $55/year at BJ’s, and all the way up to $60/year at Costco. But that’s if you don’t find a membership deal, which can save you around 40% – 50% on your annual fee.
Sam’s Club used to offer non-discounted gas to non-members, but now most locations have switched to a members-only system. There are a few states where Sam’s Club is required by law to offer gas to the general public, but you won’t get a discount on it unless you swipe a membership card.
At Costco, you can actually buy gas as a non-member, but you’ll need to swipe a Costco Shop Card to purchase it. (A Costco Shop Card is their version of a gift card, and a current Costco member can purchase one.)
2. All Costco locations have gas, but not all Sam’s Club or BJ’s locations do.
I was surprised to learn that every Costco location has a gas station. But as for Sam’s Club and BJ’s, finding gas pumps at clubs is a little more hit or miss.
Most Sam’s Club locations have gas pumps, but you’ll need to use the store locator tool on their website to confirm. And out of the 215 BJ’s Wholesale Club locations, about 150 of them have gas.
TIP: For the most part, BJ’s Wholesale Club locations are only on the East Coast, while Costco and Sam’s Club are nationwide.
But if you live in New Jersey, you’re out of luck when it comes to discounts on gas.
New Jersey wholesale club members don’t have the same perks that members in other states do, as the state of New Jersey legally does not allow selling memberships for discounted gas. While you’ll find plenty of gas stations at Costco, Sam’s, and BJ’s locations in New Jersey, you won’t find a per-gallon discount there like you will in other states.
It’s still worth buying your gas at membership clubs in New Jersey, though, because all three clubs offer incentive programs based on how much you spend. More on that in a minute.
3. Costco gas is higher quality than gas at Sam’s Club or BJ’s.
Did you know not all gas is created equal? Yeah, me neither. After hearing some rumors that the discounted gas at wholesale retailers is of low quality, I decided to do some digging. I fill my tank at Costco about once a week, so I wanted to make sure I wasn’t getting a bad deal.
It turns out that gas at Costco is technically better than the gas at both Sam’s Club and BJ’s. Costco gas is certified as “Top Tier,” which means it’s higher quality than even the EPA requires.
But if you’re a Sam’s Club or BJ’s shopper, don’t let it worry you too much — the fuel at either club meets all federal and state guidelines and is perfectly safe for your car. Unless you’re driving a luxury car or a vehicle that requires a specific kind of gas, it all pretty much works the same.
Related: Cut down on your car maintenance fees with these oil change coupon hacks.
4. Sam’s Club and BJ’s typically have the lowest prices per gallon, but it depends on where you live.
You can usually find the cost of gas online before you head to the pump. We compared prices at different cities across the country and found there wasn’t a clear winner across the board, but Sam’s Club and BJ’s can definitely hold their own against Costco.
In most cities, Costco’s gas was a few cents more expensive than the other wholesale club gas stations. Actually, we didn’t find any cities where Costco had the cheapest gas of all three.
These prices are for a gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline in May 2023:
5. Sam’s Club offers the highest savings per gallon compared to average gas prices.
It’s not really fair to compare average gas prices across the three because gas prices vary so much by location. So, we compared gas prices to the local average cost of gas, and calculated the average savings at each store.
Sam’s Club was the clear winner, with an average of $0.21 per gallon. That means if you’re filling a 12-gallon tank, you’ll save $2.52 every time you fill up!
And even though Costco didn’t have the cheapest price of any of the three, they have the second-best average savings ($0.18 per gallon) — so you’re still getting a consistently good deal.
So, how much could you actually save a year?
The average American uses about 650 gallons of gas per year. With a 12-gallon gas tank, that’s about 54 fill-ups per year. Here’s how much you can save per fill-up at each location:
|Store||Per Visit Savings||Per Year Savings|
|BJ’s||$1.68 / fill-up||$90.72 / year|
|Costco||$2.16 / fill-up||$116.64 / year|
|Sam’s Club||$2.52 / fill-up||$136.08 / year|
Next, let’s make sure the price of the membership is worth the warehouse club gas savings.
6. To pay for a Sam’s Club membership, you’d need to fill up your tank 20 times in a year (about once every three weeks).
With a $50 annual membership fee at Sam’s Club, filling your tank just 20 times pays for the whole thing — not including the savings you’ll find on things actually inside the store.
One of the best ways to save money at Sam’s Club is to get the Sam’s Club Mastercard. You’ll get 5% back on gas, which is a crazy good deal on top of Sam’s already-discounted prices. But it’s not limited to just Sam’s gas! You’ll get 5% back on any gas you buy, at any gas station in the country. (You’ll also get 3% back on dining and 1% back on all other purchases.)
7. To pay for a Costco membership, you’d need to fill up your tank 28 times in a year (about twice a month).
At $60 per year, Costco has the most expensive annual membership. But with the gas savings at Costco, a membership pays for itself after just 28 fill-ups at the pump.
But the savings don’t stop there. You can get 4% back on gas with the Costco Visa. You’ll also get 3% cash back on restaurants and travel, 2% on all non-gas purchases at Costco, and 1% cash back on everything else.
8. To pay for a BJ’s membership, you’d need to fill up your tank 33 times in a year (about three times a month).
A BJ’s membership is $55 per year. Since you’ll save $1.68 per fill-up with a 12-gallon tank, you’d need to fill up 33 times before the membership pays for itself.
In addition to heavily-discounted gas, BJ’s also has one of the most competitive warehouse club gas rewards programs we’ve ever seen. With the BJ’s One+ Mastercard, you’ll save 15 cents per gallon on top of the already low prices. They also have a savings program that allows you to stack more cents-per-gallon savings by buying certain in-store products.