Can you get cheaper gas at wholesale clubs?

March 16, 2011 3:44:06 PM PDT
Gas prices have dipped for a second straight day after a 20-day streak of gains. But the good news may be short lived as prices are expected to rise again. We went to check for cheap gas at places that offer lower prices than the traditional gas stations.

We are talking about buying gas at the grocery store or the warehouse club retailers like Sam's Club and Costco. If you have a club card or pay for a membership, it may pay you to stop and fill up at these stations.

Working mom and full-time student Krystal Martin has to find creative ways to budget even if she's just saving pennies per gallon of gas.

"It adds up, it adds up," said Martin.

Bonnie Stewart is also pinching pennies at the pump.

"Even if it's just pennies, every penny counts these days," Stewart said.

With her mom in the hospital, Stewart is traveling from Katy to the Medical Center, so she had to find the cheapest way to fill up. It's why she gets her gas at Kroger.

"You spend so much money, you get extra money off like their sign says $3.41 for regular; I get it for 3.38," said Stewart.

At Kroger, you have the potential to save 15 cents per gallon of gas. The first way to do that is by using your Kroger Plus card, and you will save three cents off each gallon. If you spend $100 on groceries at Korger, you will save 10 cents off each gallon. And if you apply for the Kroger Mastercard, you'll save a total of 15 cents off per gallon of gas.

So at Kroger that's $3.26 for a gallon of gas with all the discounts. Across the street at the Texaco, the price per gallon is $3.59.

Kroger also has a new partnership with Shell gas stations. If you shop at Kroger, you can use your fuel rewards points to save 10 cents per gallon at more than 600 participating Shell stations.

"Used to be it didn't matter; you would pull anywhere to get gas (to save) just one or two cents, but now it's 10, 20 cents depending on where you go," Stewart said.

Over at Costco near River Oaks, the price per gallon of gas is $3.36.

"That's pretty good for these days, right?" said Eileen Quinn.

Even though it's slightly out of the way for some drivers, they make a special trip for the member price.

"I come here specifically for gas and groceries," said Quinn.

At Sam's Club in the Galleria, the member price for a gallon of regular unleaded is also $3.36.

So for those who don't shop at the wholesale clubs, you may be asking yourself if it's worth the annual membership fee just for gas? Well, we did the math.

If you take the average cost of a gallon of gas today in Houston at $3.45, and subtract that from the warehouse club prices of $3.36, it's a savings of nine cents per gallon. If you have a 20-gallon tank, you'll save $1.80 per fill up. If you fill up once a week, that's $93.60 for the year. If you fill up twice a month, it's $46.80.

As for paying cash for gas, you are probably going to find a better deal at places like Citgo that offer a cash card price.

One other note to keep in mind -- at the grocery store and the warehouse stores, it's usually credit or debit.