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Cheap Gas: Is ARCO or Costco a Good Deal? Print E-mail
(7 votes, average 4.14 out of 5)
Automotive - Maintain
Written by LiveCheap Staff   
Thursday, 22 October 2009 15:12
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Want Cheap gas? The crowd loves to save a buck or two on gas or anything else for that matter. If you’ve driven anywhere or been online, you’ve probably seen the ads that ARCO saves you 5 or 10 cents a gallon.  But does ARCO really have cheap gas?  Now many of you in the Eastern U.S. don’t even have ARCO stations in their hometown but Costco or Sam’s Club are pretty good proxies. Our team did some analysis, not all financial, and here is what we found.

First off, since we are a California based team, one thing really stood out - we’re totally getting screwed on gas prices no matter where you buy it.  We have to shell out $3.00 for the same gallon of gas that they pay $2.35 in Houston and Atlanta. Not fair.  I mean you can get gas cheaper in the middle of Manhattan than most places in California.  Having said that, we’re not about to abandon Southern California to save sixty cents on a gallon of gas. So we decided to do the next best thing - bite our nails and crunch the numbers.

We compared gas prices in 12 major metropolitan areas. On the West Coast, we compared the ARCO regular grade price to that of a Tier 1 gas station like Exxon, Mobil or Chevron.  The differences ranged from $0.06 in Phoenix and Portland to $0.20 in places like Sacramento.  The bizarre thing is the closer a major brand gas station is to an ARCO, the higher the price difference. Here in the Los Angeles Area, we observed differences as much as $0.30 for stations that were across the street!  The bottom line is that the ARCO claim is completely legit and may even be understated in some localities.


Outside of the West, we looked at the price of Costco vs. the Tier 1 guys.  What we noticed was markedly different than what we saw in the West.  There were very small differences in price.  In places like Houston, a number of Tier 1 gas stations like Chevron are actually just as cheap.  At most there was a five or six cent differential and in many cases there was none.

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Kay |2010-07-23 11:41:20
ARCO?! They are a subsidiary of BP! Is it REALLY worth saving a few pennies to support BP? Boycot BP. I live in metro LA and Arco is about 7-10 cents less than major brands. In filling up my car that is less than $2 more. I'm all for saving money, but not for the price selling out my dignity and self respect. I am now looking for your articles on how to save at Walmart.
Omiewon  - They are actually just BP |2010-07-23 12:45:07
They aren't even a subsidiary anymore they are actually just BP with a different brand name for the West Coast.

Point taken. This is an old article that was written in October 2009, long before the fiasco that we are looking at today.

I'd say you make a good point. If you are a consumer that wants to protest the actions of BP, don't go to ARCO.
cheaparse  - Credit card cash back factor |2009-10-22 20:48:35
I've used a similar line of thinking as posted. Many of us living cheaply get 3-5% cash back on my credit card on gas purchases, and let's say we're paying $3.00/gallon for gas, ARCO's gotta have to be >9-15 cents/gallon cheaper to be worth it. That, the sheer hassle of dealing with cash and change (I don't believe in debit), and the fact the ones near me are crowded is why I haven't gone there in years.
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