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How to save money on gas
© Eric Broder Van Dyke |

Is it worth paying for a Costco or Sam’s Club membership to save on gas?

With gas prices climbing to alarming heights, electric vehicle manufacturers take this as their time to shine.

What is the true cost of ownership when it comes to EVs? You don’t need to fill them up with gas, but they need a power source. And that isn’t free. Aside from that, the infrastructure is not quite there yet, so you may need to drive longer to find a charger. Tap or click here to check out our report before deciding on an EV.

With national gas prices averaging about $4.25 per gallon, any savings you can find are beneficial. How about skipping conventional gas stations and filling up at one of the big warehouse clubs? Does the lower cost of fuel offset the membership prices?

The cost of membership

Big-box stores like Costco and Sam’s Club charge an annual membership fee to shop their wares. For Costco, the price is $60 for the standard Gold Star membership or $120 for the Executive.

Sam’s Club charges $45 for the standard membership and $100 per year for its Plus membership.

These stores sell everything from house plants to big-screen televisions. With a membership, you can purchase gas at both big-box retailers for lower prices than you’ll find at traditional gas stations.

“Gas prices at warehouse clubs are nearly always lower, ranging from 5 cents to 25 cents less per gallon,” Patrick De Haan of GasBuddy told Consumer Reports. “And when prices rise, they hold their prices down for longer.”

You can save, depending on some factors

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, Americans drove more than 2.9 trillion miles in 2020. If you divide that number by the number of licensed drivers that year — about 228 million, you get an annual per-person driving average of 12,724 miles.

The most popular car in the U.S., the Ford F-150, gets a combined 25 MPG, according to the EPA. A driver of this vehicle uses an average of 509 gallons of fuel per year. At $4.25 per gallon, this works out to $2,163.

If you save just 20 cents per gallon on gasoline at the big-box store pumps, you’ll save about $102 annually, offsetting your membership price. If you tend to drive more than the national average, you’ll save even more.

Take distance into account

If you live far away from Costco or Sam’s Club and have to drive extra miles to fuel up, your savings will go down, and you could spend more on fuel by the end of the year.

You may also face a line at the warehouse club pumps, and as we all know, time is money. If you enjoy buying in bulk, you can fuel up and do your shopping. If you make smaller purchases, the price of membership may not be worth it.

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