Gas Prices in North Carolina Hit a New High, Are Warehouse Club Memberships Worth the Savings?
The cost of a gallon of gas rose 17 cents last week, leaving drivers to pay an average of $4.52 a gallon, according to AAA data.
AAA experts expect prices to continue to rise, leading many drivers to welcome even a little relief.
“I was watching Gas Buddy earlier and it was $4.59 everywhere else, but it was $4.34 here,” Raleigh driver Caswell Spencer said. “So, that feels like a little market to me.”
Spencer has been a Costco member for over a decade and usually only fills up at Costco.
“I make a lot of money, so I can’t even imagine what people who were going through a tough time are doing before all of this happened,” Spencer said.
For years, warehouse club memberships like Sam’s Club, Costco and BJ’s have offered low prices on fuel.
Currently, members save $3-3.80 for a 20 gallon fill-up. With the average American using 562 gallons of gasoline per year, memberships have the potential to save drivers $84 to $106 per year.
“It helps, but I’m lucky that I don’t have to drive every day because I’m retired, so hopefully it will last me more than a week, so if I have to go somewhere, I live in an area where I can walk to Aim and walk to the mall,” said Costco member Wanda Moore.
Discounts in these stores are not free. Annual membership fees range from $45 (Sam’s Club) to $55 (BJ’s) to $60 (Costco).
Despite the upfront cost, members walk away saving between $30 and $60 depending on location.
ABC11 analysis found that drivers would need to refuel 12 times at Sam’s Club, 17 times at Costco and 19 times at BJ’s to cover the cost of membership.
BJ’s also offers a first-year subscription for just $25. At this rate, a driver would only have to refuel nine times to pay for their membership.
For Spencer, who runs a restaurant business in the Triangle, membership pays.
“It’s cheaper to get some things there, some things in a different area, but mostly gas because I fill up every other day. I drive everywhere for catering, delivery and all that “, he explained.
Beyond warehouse clubs, there are a number of rewards programs, but consumers should do the math before assuming they’ll save a ton of money.
North Carolina gas prices rose 50 cents last month and $1.65 since this time last year. By comparison, North Carolina drivers still pay 34 cents less per gallon than the national average.
Even with small discounts, drivers are hoping long-term relief will come soon.
“You can’t hurt people like that. People are deciding if they’re going to have food or if they’re going to have gas, which isn’t good,” Spencer said.
The AAA recommends drivers save on gas by combining errands, researching prices, paying cash, removing access weight in their car, and avoiding aggressive acceleration.
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