But before signing up, consider the costs. Warehouse clubs charge annual membership fees, which typically range from $45 to $120 per year, depending on the club and membership level.
Still, gas discounts alone can be worth the cost of joining, though your savings will vary depending on your location and mileage. If you get an average of 20 cents on a gallon of gas, you could save about $112 a year, assuming your driving uses an average of 562 gallons a year. These savings alone would more than offset the cost of a basic warehouse membership or even cover most of the higher tier membership fees.
For example, someone living in Kansas City, Missouri, paid $3.67 a gallon for regular gas at Costco, or 22 cents less than the $3.89 cost at a nearby Shell station, according to recent data from GasBuddy. If you use 10 gallons of gas a week, you could save $114 a year at that rate, or about the cost of a top-tier Costco membership.
In contrast, a driver stopping at a Sam’s Club near San Diego recently paid $5.15 a gallon for a regular vehicle versus $5.99 at a local Chevron, according to GasBuddy. Potential annual savings for Sam’s Club member: $437.
Before you buy a subscription, especially if it’s just for gas, map warehouse locations and determine if you’ll really be able to do your regular refueling there, says Ted Rossman, principal analyst at the industry at CreditCards.com.
And be aware that many other drivers are looking for the same savings, which means you’ll likely face long lines at warehouse club fuel pumps. You might want to line up early in the morning to avoid long waits, Rossman says.
Also keep in mind that you will be committing to shopping at a big box store, where many of the best deals are in bulk.
If you’re not sure whether joining a warehouse club is worth it, there’s little risk in trying one. All three warehouse clubs will allow you to join, cancel at any time, and get a refund.