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Drivers Flock to Costco, Sam's to Save on Gas — Is It Worth It?

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There's no end in sight to rising gas prices. There's also no end in sight to the line at your local Costco or Sam's Club gas station.


TikTok user @kamilah_michelle shared a look at the line of drivers hoping to fill up at a Costco gas station in Los Angeles, where motorists are grappling with some of the highest gas prices in the nation. The average price per gallon in L.A. is $5.78, according to AAA, and for California, it's $5.69. Nationally, the average is a still-painful $4.32.


Related: What's the Cheapest Day to Fill Up Your Car?


So, is it worth it to wait in a line like this — or, if you're not already a member, to cough up the $60 Costco membership fee or $45 Sam's Club membership fee just for the privilege of filling up? 


How much you'll save by getting gas at a warehouse club always varies by location, of course. But in some cases, the savings can be significant. The San Jose Mercury News recently reported that a Santa Clara Costco was charging only $4.82 a gallon, compared with the Bay Area's average gas price of $5.45 — a $9.45 savings for a 15-gallon fill-up. At those numbers, it would only take seven trips to the gas station to make back Costco's $60 membership fee. 


Related: 12 Costco or Sam's Purchases That Make Back the Membership Fee


However, in a suburb of Dayton, Ohio, Costco was offering only a 7-cent-per-gallon savings compared with nearby stations. And industry experts report that savings at Costco and Sam's Club gas stations are usually 20 to 30 cents a gallon, on average. That means you would be saving $3 to $4.50 per fill-up with a 15-gallon tank. Still nothing to sneeze at — but perhaps not worth it if you have to burn gas and time while you idle in a 30-minute line. 


Related: How to Get Cheaper Gas as the Price of Oil Rises


Keeping the lines in mind, warehouse members who want cheap gas without waiting too long may want to fill their tanks very early or late. One shopper told Business Insider she hit her local Sam's Club gas station at 5:50 a.m. and still had to wait in a line that was five cars deep. Costco and Sam's gas stations are typically open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., but check your local station's hours before you go. 

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