If you drive, you’ve probably experienced sticker shock. According to AAA figures, the average gas price has increased by nearly 42% over the past year as of mid-April. The national average price of gasoline is above $4 per gallon, and in other places, that price can be substantially higher.
Customers feel trapped when gas prices increase in such a dramatic way. In the end, there aren’t many realistic methods to prevent rising gas prices (although there are some ways to chip away at them).
According to Nicole Petersen, a spokesman for GasBuddy.com, “Many folks can’t afford to go without gas.” “Many people just decide not to buy that item until costs become more accessible when the price of other things go up, like meat at the grocery store, for example. This isn’t always an option with fuel. Because the U.S. is a car-dependent nation, many citizens must pay increased gas prices to go to and from work and conduct their everyday lives.
If the lengthy queues at Costco are any indicator, many consumers view warehouse and membership clubs (like Costco and Sam’s Club) as “a way out” of rising gas prices. It appears easy: By paying a membership fee, you can purchase petrol at a lower price than the rest of the population. Additionally, Walmart significantly improved its gas advantages for paying Walmart+ members in April 2022. (10 cents off a gallon at select stations).
But would it be wise to join a warehouse club just for the gas savings? We consulted experts to help us understand why petrol prices are so high and what to think about before you freak up and join a warehouse.
How Did We Get Here, First?
GasBuddy, a website and mobile app that let you locate the cheapest gas nearby, may have the best finger on the pulse of gas prices. It has been reporting on the issue in fuel prices from all sides and continuously monitors the national average gallon price by state.
According to Petersen, gas prices in the United States are currently very close to their all-time high.
The wild trip began in early March when the national average gas price increased by more than 60 cents in only one week.
According to Petersen, gas prices have marginally decreased over the past week or two and are currently hovering at about $4.23 per gallon on average. Note: That still exceeds the record national average high ($4.10 per gallon) set in 2008.
According to Petersen, there are many complex factors involved in stratospheric ascension, but there are two main ones.
What crude oil is used for: Crude oil is used to make gasoline, which is produced by drilling and traded internationally. According to Petersen, the cost of this oil accounts for roughly 50% of the price that is displayed at the pump.
economic variables Oil is a resource that is used all over the world, hence supply and demand affect its price. “Oil costs rise as more people buy it. Prices decrease when there is an excessive supply and insufficient demand, according to Petersen.
Consider the current state of the planet. The delicate balance of supply and demand has been upset as a result of Russia’s war on Ukraine. Russian oil supply has been pulled off the market due to US sanctions. And costs have increased.
According to Petersen, geopolitical developments like this frequently have a significant impact on oil prices. Similarly, demand for oil and gas decreased when the COVID-19 pandemic first broke out, which is why prices in 2020 were so low.
Can Sam’s Club, Walmart+, and Costco Help You Save on Gas?
Joining a warehouse club, such as Costco or Sam’s Club, which offers discounts in exchange for a membership fee, is an instant solution to avoid rising gas expenses. Additionally, Walmart+ provides its paying members with a petrol discount.
The amount of the gas discount varies. As with other gas stations, pump prices at Costco and Sam’s Club vary, but based on prices on GasBuddy (and neighbourhood pricing close to BestSavingsCoupon Austin headquarters when we looked at the end of March):
For standard gas, Costco charges roughly 20 cents less per gallon than market rates, while Sam’s Club charges about 15 cents less.
In addition to giving you the member pricing at Sam’s Club stations, Walmart guarantees 10 cents off per gallon off at participating Exxon and Mobil stations and 5 to 10 cents off per gallon off at its own gas stations and Murphy gas stations.
According to Kyle James of the discounts and shopping tips website Rather-Be-Shopping.com, Costco and Sam’s can offer fuel at such low prices because they aren’t seeking to profit from fill-ups. The objective is to park you in their lot and, ideally, let you into their shop.
We did some math to determine how much a membership to Costco, Sam’s Club, or Walmart+ will save you each tank and how long it will take you to recoup your membership price. Please take note that these sums are approximations. Depending on the size of your tank, how frequently you fill up, and how frequently you visit the gas stations connected to your membership, your mileage will literally vary.
Costco Sam’s Club Walmart+
Depending on tank size, it will take 15 to 25 weeks to recover the membership cost. Depending on tank size, 20–25 weeks. if you only fill up at participating gas stations for 49 to 82 weeks. If you additionally benefit from Sam’s fuel pricing, it will take less time.
Be aware that there are additional considerations to take into account, even if Costco has the fastest return on investment based just on fuel savings. For instance, Walmart+ is primarily concerned with the advantages of free same-day delivery, with fuel reductions serving as the cherry on top. Additionally, Sam’s Club membership pricing is included with Walmart+ membership, allowing customers to benefit from lower Sam’s Club fuel costs if they so want.
Other Things to Take Into Account Before Joining
It’s tempting to base your choice on the pump price. However, there are a few aspects to take into account (we contacted James from Rather-Be-Shopping to assist us in compiling this list):
1. The Lengthy Lines
You’ve probably seen them: the lines, if you’ve even recently drove past a Costco, especially on the weekend. The single best time to fill up at Costco and Sam’s on weekdays between 10 and 11 a.m., according to James, is to avoid this. Most people are working hard and haven’t had their lunch breaks yet.
Are you willing to fill up at off-peak hours? Is my schedule accommodating enough to permit this?
2. Whether The Warehouse Club In Your Area Actually Has A Gas Station On-Site.
According to James, “many still don’t.”
Do you know whether there is a warehouse club with a petrol station around where you usually drive?
3. The Travel Distance to Get a Fill-Up
We frequently take it for granted that we can refuel on our way home from work at the neighbourhood gas station. But what if the closest Walmart, Sam’s Club, or Costco is far away?
If you have to go out of your way to acquire petrol, will you really save money?
4. The Time
James notes that warehouse clubs don’t stay open late since they don’t make much money from their fueling stations.
What would you do if you needed to get gas late at night? Can you regularly plan ahead to benefit fully from your warehouse club’s discount when it is open?
5. Whether Your Warehouse Cub Has the Most Affordable Gas
Check the fuel costs at nearby stations. There are now three additional gas stations in James’ town that offer prices comparable to Costco. To get the same price per gallon as Costco, I would have to pay cash, but that’s not a huge concern. James is referencing the cash discount some stations provide to customers who pay with cash (thus saving the station credit card processing fees). Check the signpost whether a station offers them; not all do.
In light of this, should you join a membership club to receive fuel price discounts?
for the cost of only the fuel? Most likely not. There are far too many variables involved. But what about the cost of fuel and the advantages? It varies.
James responds, “In my opinion, signing up for a membership to benefit from the gas savings makes sense ONLY if you’ll also take advantage of some of the shopping options within the warehouse.
If you’re considering joining a warehouse club, think about…
Get access to premium brands and deals. Shop internal brands like Kirkland at Costco and Member’s Mark at Sam’s Club, advises James. In addition to being 10 to 25 percent less expensive, they are frequently created and repackaged by the original brand’s producer.
The terms of returns. For instance, Costco is recognized for having a forgiving return policy. Except for electronics, almost everything in the warehouse is returnable without a time limit, according to James. You still have a generous 90-day return policy for gadgets.
Benefits of buying in bulk. A lower price per unit is offered when you purchase in bulk, and this helps to more than offset the family membership charge. For a family of four or more, James advises purchasing toilet paper, dish soap, laundry detergent, paper towels, diapers, batteries, and light bulbs from Costco because they don’t expire and are simple to keep.
If you’re considering joining Walmart+, think about…
How much do you order for same-day delivery of groceries and other items. On purchases of $35 or more, same-day delivery is free at Walmart+.
Your online shopping habits. With no minimum purchase necessary, Walmart+ offers free shipping on ALL online items for next-day and two-day delivery.
Where We Are Going: Is There any Hope for the Future?
Is there a chance that gas prices will drop if you decide to wait it out since you’re unsure? Maybe, but not right away or forever.
The recent week has witnessed a little drop in gas prices, but it’s still unclear how long it will persist, according to GasBuddy’s Petersen. “As previously noted, any changes in the Russian war in Ukraine could cause prices to spike once further. For the time being, we may expect high costs for the majority of the summer and a probable decline in prices in the fall when seasonal weakness in the demand for gasoline sets in.