Whether you’re filling your cooler to keep your lunch cold or you’re preparing for a party or outing, you may be wondering, where is the best place to buy ice? There are several options, and which one is best will depend on which is cheapest and most convenient for you.
Where Is the Best Place to Buy Ice?
If you’re looking for three or more pounds of ice, buying it from a store is probably the first option that comes to mind. However, it’s not the only option. You might be surprised to learn that an extra stop outside of your usual grocery store or convenience store can not only give you access to cleaner, better-quality ice, but also help you save money.
While the price of ice varies by location, including the type of store or kiosk, as well as geographic location, vended ice offers significant cost savings regardless of location. Since there’s no shipping or associated store costs, you can get more vended ice at a lower price compared to grocery stores, convenience stores, or other places where you might find ice.
Ice doesn’t sit for long periods of time in vending machines, either, which is sometimes the case when bags of ice are shipped to a grocery store or convenience store. These bags might sit in an ice bunker for extended periods, and can accumulate mold growth if they’re not cleaned properly.
Let’s take a look at the best places to buy ice, starting with ice vending machines.
Ice Vending Machine
An ice vending machine is one of the best places to buy ice. If there’s an ice vending machine location near you, this is likely to be the most convenient and affordable option. You can simply walk or drive up to the location, pay for your ice, and go. You won’t have to wait in line for customers to purchase other items, or wait for a clerk to unlock an ice bunker. The ice is also clean and purified, so it’s likely to be more enjoyable too. At many locations, you can also fill up your water bottle with clean, purified water.
Bagged ice from other locations usually costs about $2.50 for a 7- to 10-pound bag, but vended ice is cheaper. You’ll likely pay around $2.00 for a 16- to 20-pound bag. Since there’s no shipping or overhead costs, you get more ice while saving money.
If you’re not sure if there’s an ice vending machine near you, try the free ICE2U app. You can take a look at the closest vending machines, and take advantage of discounts. You can even make cashless purchases on the app.
Fast Food Location
When you think of buying ice, fast food probably isn’t your first thought. However, many fast food restaurants sell bagged ice at affordable prices. A ten-pound bag is the most common type, though some stores also sell 5, 8, 10 or 20 pound bags. This certainly isn’t a menu item though, so there’s no guarantee that the location will sell ice.
Big Box Store
Superstores like Walmart, Kroger, Albertsons and many more sell ice as well as groceries and other items. You may find 5, 8, 10 or 20 pound bags near the front of the store, or just outside in an ice bunker. You may have to ask a clerk to unlock it for you. If you need to grab a few grocery items as well as ice, this may be the best place to buy ice.
Be mindful of cleanliness if you’re getting your ice from a big box store, grocery store, or similar location. If ice tends to sit for long periods of time in an ice bunker or if the ice maker the store uses isn’t regularly cleaned, the ice can become contaminated. If the ice tastes strange or the bag doesn’t look clean, this isn’t the best place to buy ice, regardless of convenience.
Warehouse clubs like Costco or Sam’s Club sell ice in large quantities, as well as many other items. You’ll need a membership to take advantage of savings, and you’re likely to find larger, 20 pound bags here. This might be more than you need, and it might not make sense to buy ice from one of these stores if you only want to make a quick stop.
Many dollar stores, like Dollar Tree or Dollar General, also sell ice. Despite the name, the price on ice will probably be pretty similar to ice from other locations, like superstores or grocery stores. But, if you’re picking up a few other items here to save some money, this can be a good place to buy ice as well.
Your local, independent grocery store most likely sells ice too. Most stores either make their own ice using similar machines or have it delivered from the same vendors, so the price, quantity and quality will be comparable to a big box store. This may be the best place to buy ice if you’re picking up a few other items for your trip or workday.
When you think of buying ice, a convenience store or gas station is probably the first place you think of. Though prices at these stores are usually higher because of the convenience factor, it might make sense to pay more and save yourself a trip to another store.
Which location is the best place to buy ice depends on what you’re looking for. An ice vending machine can help you save money and give you better quality ice. Since you’re unlikely to wait in line, making an extra stop only takes a few minutes. Use the ICE2U app to make cashless purchases and you can even get free ice rewards and discounts.