Is Costco Gas Cheaper? Costco Gas Cost Savings Versus Other Gas Stations
There are a number of things that can be bought at Costco that make the price of membership worth the cost, in my opinion. Costco’s “Kirkland Signature” store brand has numerous items that offer significant cost savings over comparable alternatives, in addition to discounted bulk-packaged name brands. I find the Kirkland Signature dog and cat food, appliances (which have an excellent warranty), toilet paper, Kirkland Signature alcohol, pharmacy prescriptions, peanut butter, olive oil, and a variety of nuts to be among the best bargains at Costco. But the best deal that I’ve consistently found at Costco is the Kirkland Signature gasoline at Costco’s gas stations.
Gas price comparison website, GasBuddy.com, frequently shows the Costco gas price to be about 10-15% cheaper than the average gas station. For example, if the local gas station average near me is $3.50, Costco is usually around $3. This matches my monthly $0.40 – $0.60 per gallon discount observations from checking what other stations charge before I gas up at Costco. Your local experience may vary, but I’ve heard similar comparisons from other Costco members in different locations as well.
Is Costco Gas Worth the Membership Price Alone? The Costco Gas Savings & Membership Price Break-Even Math
With those cost savings in mind, is Costco gas worth the price of a Costco membership on its own? Let’s do some back of the napkin math to find out.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Americans drive an average of roughly 13,476 miles per year and average 25.4 mpg, per vehicle. Those averages would equate to 530 gallons of gas used, per person. If those 530 gallons were exclusively purchased at Costco, at a discount of $0.50 per gallon, it would equate to a savings of $265 per year. In a 2-car household with a shared Costco membership, the savings would be $530.
The price for the standard Costco “Gold Star” membership is $60, so in this “average” scenario, the gas cost savings from a Costco membership would easily cover the cost of a Costco membership. Of course, your mileage may vary.
Is Costco Gas Eligible for Credit Card Rewards or the 2% Annual Cash Back Reward for Costco Executive Membership?
You can get applicable credit card cash back rewards for using Visa Cards at Costco (Costco gas stations use the credit card merchant code for gas stations), including 4% cash back with the Costco branded Anywhere Visa Card by Citi, which is among the best credit cards for Costco purchases.
Sadly, the Costco gas purchases do not qualify for the additional 2% annual reward for the Executive Membership, according to Costco:
Rewards are not calculated: (i) on purchases of cigarettes or tobacco-related products, gasoline…
In other words, there would be no added benefit for those who purchase a lot of gasoline to upgraded to the Executive Membership for added cash back rewards. I’ve run the break-even math on Costco Executive membership for those who are interested.
Do you Need a Costco Membership to Get Gas at Costco?
Can anyone buy Costco gas, or do you need a membership? I’ve highlighted a number of ways to shop at Costco without a membership before. You need a Costco membership to buy Costco gas – with one exception: use of a Costco Shop Card.
A Costco Shop Card is basically a refillable debit card that can only be used at Costco and can only be purchased by a Costco member. So, you could have a Costco member buy and/or refill a Costco Shop Card for you, but that seems like mooching. Technically, you could also buy Costco Shop Cards for yourself while you have Costco membership, and then use it for gas purchases later. 3rd party gift card resellers like Raise sometimes sell Costco Cash Cards.
What Forms of Payment Do Costco Gas Stations Take?
In addition to the Costco Shop Card (which would require a Costco Gas attendant authorize your pump), Costco gas stations take any Visa credit card and most PIN debit cards. You cannot use cash or check to buy gas at Costco. You cannot use Discover, American Express, or Mastercard to buy gas at Costco either.
Costco Gas Summary
Cheap gas could be worth the cost of Costco membership alone, and if not, it certainly adds to the overall value for members. For Costco members not seeing similar cost savings, it’s worth noting that anyone can ask for a Costco membership fee refund at any time.
What is your personal experience with cost savings at Costco gas stations?