Compare petrol and service stations including Costco, APCO, Liberty, Coles Express Shell, Woolworths Caltex, United Petroleum, Puma Energy, BP, 7-Eleven (Mobil), Ampol and Metro Petroleum on their petrol prices, customer service, appearance & cleanliness, convenience, facilities, range of non-car items for sale and overall satisfaction.
The cost of fuel is enough to drive anyone up the wall – but like any other product or service, you’ll end up paying for convenience, so you need to shop around. Sure, it’s easy and convenient to fill up at your nearest servo, but are you really getting the best value for money possible – in terms of the price you’re paying, but also the facilities that are available and the customer service provided? If the answer is “no” then maybe it’s time for a change. Driving past one service station to reach another seems nonsensical, but then so does paying more than you need to, or having a bad experience time after time.
To help you choose which petrol station to head to next, we’ve surveyed more than 2,500 motorists across Australia for their feedback on the petrol/service station(s) they’ve recently visited and used to refuel their vehicle. While the price you pay at the pump is hugely important, our customer ratings reflect much more than that – we also ask motorists to give their opinions on a range of other significant factors, including their servo’s appearance & cleanliness, customer service, convenience, facilities, and range of other items for sale. Retailers that received at least 30 responses are included in our latest ratings.
Costco took out the top spot once again, being the only petrol/service station to score a five-star review for overall satisfaction and petrol prices! It also got full marks for appearance and cleanliness.
Here are the best petrol and service stations in Australia, as rated by consumers by order of overall satisfaction:
Costco drove into first place with five-star reviews for petrol prices, appearance and cleanliness and overall satisfaction. Coles Express Shell, Woolworths Caltex and BP also impressed motorists when judged on the appearance and cleanliness of their service stations, each landing full marks. Coles Express Shell additionally achieved five stars for customer service, as did APCO, as well as for convenience (alongside BP, 7-Eleven and Ampol). It also saw the same result for facilities, similar to Shell and BP. Lastly, APCO was rated best for its range of non-car items for sale.
To help you decide which servo may be worth a visit, here is an overview of the service stations included in this year’s review.
Known for all things ‘bought in bulk’ and American, Costco is proving a real hit with Australians who like a bargain. Paying an annual membership fee of $60 will open up a world of discounts on all manner of foods, drinks and household items, as well as fuel. When Costco’s service station in North Lakes – north of Brisbane – first opened in 2014, motorists were lined up around the block to get the taste of cheaper fuel. It was a similar scenario across other sites in Australia. Costco offered generous per-litre discounts on its fuel at the opening, and now offers incentives for Costco members to save at the pump. So, in one trip, you can buy your jumbo-sized tub of Nutella and then fill up on discounted fuel. There are currently close to 40 wholesale Costco stores across Australia, of which nine have petrol stations.
APCO is a locally-owned independent fuel chain that offers a variety of services, including fast flow diesel, a 24/7 café with trained baristas, a hand car wash, automatic car wash, laundromat, dog wash, and a truck stop and drop-off and collection. Although these facilities vary between locations.
APCO additionally promises to donate a portion of the profits from products such as chilled water, ‘Twosday Coffee’ and its range of engine oil to the APCO Foundation, which raises money for causes including Cops N Kids and Cottage by the Sea.
APCO Convenience, APCO IGA Express and APCO IGA can be found across Victoria and in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales.
Liberty describes itself as a ‘competitive fuel alternative’ in a fuel market dominated by several large, multi-national corporations. Not only does Liberty supply independent fuel retailers, but it also runs its own-branded service stations across the country, with a particular focus on regional areas.
Liberty says it’s able to continuously supply fuel at competitive prices because it buys from different refineries (mostly Australian) and claims to be one of the largest wholesalers in Australia.
Differing from normal Shell service stations in that Coles owns the spot, with Shell supplying the petrol, Coles Express is well known for its 4c per litre discounts whereby shoppers who buy their groceries at a Coles supermarket can then get discounts at the pump. They can also scan their Flybuys rewards card to accumulate points and buy many of the same groceries available in a regular Coles store. Coles Express Shell is one of the most expansive fuel stations in Australia, with nearly 700 locations all up.
It’s quite rare to find a service station that isn’t connected to a grocery or convenience store these days, but there are still a huge number of Shell-branded servos across Australia. Known for sponsoring various motorsports leagues around the globe, Shell is perhaps one of the largest fuel companies in the world, known for its ‘V Power’ high-performance 98-octane fuel. With well over 700 locations Australia-wide, Shell’s Motorist app lets you see special offers, track your loyalty card points and transactions, and helps you find your nearest Shell station.
Not to be confused with regular old Caltex service stations, Woolworths’ fuel locations also use Caltex fuels but aim to give you that ‘Woolies experience’ by offering other services such as car washes and groceries at the majority of locations. Woolworths Caltex (soon to be EG Australia) has over 500 locations across the country, and with its well-known shopper docket discount program. Using the Everyday Rewards card program, customers also get one point for every dollar spent. Beyond that, customers can get access to Caltex’s range of fuels, including the Vortex range.
Please note: Caltex Woolworths is currently being phased out and now transitioning to EG Australia, although you’ll still be able to use your Everyday Rewards card at participating sites.
United Petroleum was established in 1993 in South Australia and later expanded to service all other states. Claimed as being one of the largest independent fuel retailers in the country, United sells all manner of fuels, with a lot of locations even having the high-performance E85 fuel. Customers can also benefit from its many reward and fuel cards. United has over 400 locations nationwide and is known for providing ‘effective fuels at a competitive price’, often undercutting the bigger retailers by a cent or two per litre.
A relative newcomer to the Aussie fuel market, Puma Energy is a company that also owns various ‘independent’ service stations such as Ausfuel, Gull and CCG networks. There are now more than 270 service stations and unmanned sites nationwide, with services such as car wash, showers, toilets, restaurants and takeaways also available (depending on location). It also has an expansive fuel card system and supplies fuel to various mining sites across the country.
In Western Australia, Puma has a partnership with RAC, and offers club members a 4c per litre discount on fuel. In Queensland, Puma has a similar partnership with RACQ, offering members the same 4c per litre discount on fuel.
British Petroleum, or BP as it’s more commonly known, is a stalwart of the Australian fuel landscape. It has an extensive fuel card system, which has previously won our customer satisfaction award for Small Business Fuel Cards. For consumers, it’s perhaps best known for its presence in huge roadside truck stops and for its BP Ultimate 98-octane premium fuel. It has more than 1,400 locations across the country.
Competing against the juggernaut of the big two supermarkets, 7-Eleven’s partnership with Mobil brings many of the same features and discounts you have come to expect from a modern servo. Perhaps most noteworthy is its fuel price ‘lock-in’ app. You can download the My 7-Eleven app for free (Apple or Android) and find out best fuel price in your area, based on what’s identified by the app. You can then lock this price in for seven days and use it at any 7-Eleven petrol station. This can be especially useful with the wild fluctuations many Aussies experience at the bowser. You get the same great fuel Mobil is known for with 7-Eleven’s network of convenience stores – and yes, Slurpees.
Quick side note – we’ve combined Caltex and Ampol under the same brand in our latest ratings. Caltex is reviving the iconic Ampol brand and is in the process of transitioning its network of over 1,900 Caltex sites to instead trade under the Ampol name. The brand says the Ampol name reflects the company’s deep local heritage and is deeply trusted by Australian consumers.
Ampol boasts a strong presence in Australia, since the Australian Motorists Petrol Company, which later became Ampol, was established in 1936. Caltex/Ampol is known for its ‘Vortex’ series of 98-octane fuels which have an engine-cleaning additive – along with rust and foam inhibitors – to keep your engine ticking along nicely.
Metro Petroleum boasts a large network of over 250 metro locations – and is one of the largest independent fuel stations in Australia. It offers a comprehensive fuel card system akin to that of larger retailers, as well as a range of bulk-buy discounts. Founded more than 40 years ago, Metro has expanded to around 200 locations today. And just because it’s independent, doesn’t mean it lags behind the big guys, with car washes, convenience stores and all the facilities you’d expect with any large fuel station also available.
Price may not entirely dictate where you decide to fill up your car, but there’s no doubt that we’d all like to pay a little less at the pump. The portion of Aussies who believe the cost of fuel has placed a major strain on their finances has even doubled since last year (26%), now reflecting the views of 53% of respondents we surveyed.
Nearly one in three motorists (27%) said they were willing to drive further if it meant saving money and 21% stay proactive at chasing lower prices than others – 29% have an app that allows them to monitor fuel prices. Although 30% of respondents said they usually stick to refuelling at the same service station, regardless of price.
Getting a good deal on petrol is made more complicated by pricing cycles, with the cheapest days to buy often varying between cities and even suburbs. To help you find a cheaper price the next time you’re running on empty, the ACCC updates its price cycle website on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, although also states that which days are the cheapest for petrol can change from cycle to cycle. But it may be best to find out which stage of the price cycle you’re in.
While this is a helpful, high-level, guide to costs, it should be noted that fuel prices can and will vary between individual service stations – sometimes just a short distance apart.
Keeping an eye on petrol prices in your area is certainly a smart move. But your decision on where to fill up could also come down to personal preference.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of just filling up your vehicle at the nearest service station, but try to treat the process of buying fuel like paying for any other product or service. Be sure to shop around for a good price, and make sure you take advantage of any rewards programs that can help you save a buck or two. If you don’t think you’re getting a good deal at your regular servo, try to drive past another one on your way home from work. You might even find the all-around experience is a lot better.
This report was written by Canstar Blue’s home & lifestyle journalist, Tahnee-Jae Lopez-Vito. She’s an expert on household appliances, grooming products and all things grocery and shopping. In addition to translating our expert research into consumer-friendly ratings reports, Tahnee spends her time helping consumers make better-informed purchase decisions on all manner of consumer goods and services, while highlighting the best deals and anything you need to be aware of.
Picture credits: intararit/shutterstock.com (infographic), VGstockstudio/shutterstock.com
Canstar Blue surveyed 3,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have refuelled a motor vehicle at a service station in the last month – in this case, 2,258 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then by mean overall satisfaction. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.
Here are the past winners of Canstar Blue’s petrol and service station review:
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