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Hawaii Visitors: Don’t Waste Time Buying Gas at Costco

This came as a big surprise even to us, and we can’t say exactly what the cause is. But if you are thinking about buying gas at Costco on your Hawaii vacation, you’ll definitely want to read on, then think twice. We’ve gone out of our way to go to Costco and wait in line to get gas. In the process, we’ve driven by other stations with no lines, without even looking closely at the price.

History of Costco gas in Hawaii.

Costco has seven stores with six gas stations here in Hawaii. That’s three gas stations on Oahu and one on each of the other major islands. Costco’s fierce loyalists flock to Costco gas on Hawaii vacations, as do residents. But should they?

Since Costco opened its Kauai store, in 2006, for example, it has certainly been our preferred stop for a fill-up. We still recall that the day they opened it caused all of the other gas retailers on the island to drop their prices by nearly a dollar. Even since then, Costco has generally run up to seventy-five cents a gallon less than other retailers. Until recently.

So what happened to Costco Gas in 2022?

The issue could be related to Hawaii unhooking from cheaper Russian oil. Earlier this year, Hawaii stopped importation of Russian oil when the state’s single oil refinery decided to suspend purchases due to the war in Ukraine.

In March, Par Pacific Holdings Inc., based in Houston, said it’d switch instead to oil sourced largely from North and South America. Until then, oil from Russia typically made up one-third of Hawaii’s crude oil imports.

Regarding the end of Russian Oil, we wrote, This Huge Cost Increase In Hawaii Is Next.

A significant percentage of Hawaii’s cheaper Russian oil imports ended up as jet fuel used for Hawaii travel.

While Hawaii was burning Russian oil for jets and cars, the rest of the U.S. only consumed 3.5% of its oil from Russia.

Best alternatives to Costco for gas.

Costco Gas

According to Gas Buddy, the cheapest places to fill up in Hawaii (without regard to which island) are as follows:

Safeway Kahului $4.84
Costco Kahului $4.84
Sam’s Club Pearl City $4.93
Costco Kapolei $4.95
Safeway Ewa Beach $4.95

You can check out all the cheapest places for gas in Hawaii on all the islands at Gas Buddy.

How much is your Hawaii vacation time worth – potential savings from $1-$4 per fill-up?

Costco members love Costco gas, as can be seen from the simply ridiculous lines at the Hawaii Costco gas stations. The company clearly enjoys fierce loyalty from their millions of customers. But how much savings is possible and what’s your time worth on your Hawaii vacation?

Even though Costco is generally a little cheaper than nearby stations, the big gap has evaporated. Thus, while we aren’t adverse to stopping at Costco, when it’s convenient, we’ll no longer seek out getting gas there. Furthermore, Costco isn’t necessarily the best choice for visitors when buying gas in Hawaii.

Many, like us, have just become accustomed to Costco gas being significantly cheaper.

As commenter Rob H. said, *I’m guessing a lot of people in that Costco line haven’t done the math.”

Reasons to avoid Costco gas include:

  • Long lines
  • Membership requirement.
  • Visa credit cards only and no cash.
  • Inconvenient locations. Is the location convenient to where you are traveling? Driving extra to save virtually nothing just doesn’t make sense.
  • Consider Safeway store reward program as an alternative.

How Costco Gas got its reputation.

Costco Hot Dogs Are Similar To Costco Gas

Costco had somewhat of a loss-leader strategy surrounding its gas stations. Members who filled up on previously cheaper gas were more likely to head into the store for even more spending. That in turn made sense to Costco regarding having the lowest gas prices. Think of it as similar to the cheap food court offerings including their hot dogs pictured above.

74 thoughts on “Hawaii Visitors: Don’t Waste Time Buying Gas at Costco”

  1. Wow, On Kauai Costco gas is generally between 60 and 75 cents a gallon less. Lines are long in the late afternoon and evening near closing [open after store closes!] there is no real line! I have used Costco exclusively since they opened. You can use a cash card from the store, just keep one in the glovebox and skip the cash!

  2. costco gas is definitely taking advantage of their customers at this point. the disparity in gas prices are similar to other gas stations and in some cases it is cheaper at other gas outlets…unheard of before. what’s going on?

  3. The writer for that when you buy gas at Costco you get a further discount per gallon on you purchase.

  4. I can’t understand why you keep hating on Costco! Did you have a bad experience there or your family participates in competition with them. In some cases there’s 53 cents a gallon difference that’s a big difference! But this is the second time I’ve seen you push this article so there’s something else behind it. Don’t get me wrong I don’t have a love affair for Costco but why aren’t you talking about high crime and Waikiki and be careful when you’re walking down the street if you really care about the tourists that are coming here?? When lex Brody Sr was alive I always bought gas there because they were the same as Costco.

  5. We just visited and left Maui 3 days ago. Gas Buddy confirmed that Costco and Safeway near the airport were the cheapest places to buy gas. Both were under $5 per gallon. We didn’t see anything cheaper than that anywhere else on the island.

  6. Although I see your point to some extent, you forgot to mention the other 7% rebate to Costco credit card holders in addition to the Lower prices. Not a big deal, but with gas at around $6 a gallon, that’s around an extra $0.42 for each gallon, thought it was worth mentioning.

  7. I moved to the BI 3 1/2 years ago and gas was $2.55 a gallon which was $1.00 cheaper than any other gas on the island. Fast forward to today and a much different economy, Costco gas is $5.47, where most other stations are $5.59, so needless to say the savings are gone. Looks like Costco is taking advantage of it’s customers by gouging them, this is evident by Safeway currently selling gas at $5.21, 26 cents a gallon cheaper than Costco. They should be ashamed of themselves, I for one, have stopped filling up at Costco.

    1. Being on the BI for 15 years, 12 of those years has been driving and 8 of those have been getting gas at Costco. Kona side doesn’t have a cheaper alternative. As long as you plan out your day and make a trip of it. It is totally worth it. Specially if you are filling up 25-30+ gallons a trip for off grid living. Our Safeway doesn’t have a gas station, and most local stops don’t give decent enough discounts for the trouble.

    2. Actually, what you are seeing is other retailers that have had to step back on the price gouging in order to compete with Costco. Costco only adjusts prices when the vendors adjust their pricing and not just because everyone else is doing it, and when their cost goes down, so does the price that the Members pay. Costco also limits it’s price margins where other retailers do not, and they treat their members, employees and vendors with dignity. Sadly, nowadays there are a lot of companies that cannot say the same.

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