Ice is by no means rare. You likely already know that various establishments, from 24-hour convenience stores to nationwide big-box stores, sell bags of ice.
However, you won’t automatically find it everywhere. For instance, 7-Eleven generally sells ice, but some locations opt out of selling them since they require massive freezer space.
The same thing goes for other brands. Stores carry varying items based on their target market’s needs and preferences, so you can’t expect every location to stock up on bags of ice.
Don’t worry if you’re lost on where to find cheap ice fast. We scoured the net for convenience stores, supermarkets, and big-box stores that sell bags of ice nationwide at reasonable prices.
Please read without skipping. We’ll show you an effective way to prevent ice cubes from sticking together. After all, chipping clumps of ice is tedious and taxing.
Let’s review the best ice distributors in your area!
Finding nearby stores that sell bags of ice
You might not notice it, but ice has several uses. Whether you’re enjoying a nice meal with the family or running a restaurant business, you’ll need ice to keep drinks chilled.
After all, nobody likes drinking their soda or water at room temperature.
Of course, you can easily use ice trays. However, buying 10-pound bags of ice for $1 to $3 each is far more convenient and practical—especially since a tray only makes around 20 ice cubes.
Moreover, ice is widely available. Some grocery stores, convenience stores, and supermarkets that sell ice nationwide include:
Convenience stores and gas stations
Let’s start the list with convenience stores and gas stations. You’ll find these 24-hour establishments anywhere in the country, and you can rest assured that most of them will sell ice.
Moreover, they serve as excellent stopovers. You can fill up on gas, grab some snacks, rehydrate, or use the bathroom while you’re there.
Take note of the following establishments:
When most people think about convenience stores, the first brand that comes to mind is 7-Eleven. It has 9,500+ locations nationwide.
Although branches don’t always sell the same stuff, you can expect most to stock up on bagged ice cubes. They often come in 10- to 20-pound bags.
Casey’s General Stores is an all-around gas station/pizza parlor/convenience store. For some, devouring cheap, greasy pizza slices at Casey’s has even become a tradition.
However, don’t forget that it’s also a convenience store with 2,200+ locations. It sells 7- to 22-pound bags of ice.
Although Casey’s doesn’t have nearly as many branches as 7-Eleven does, not that it also carries a broader selection of merchandise. You’ll likely find everything you need for weekend trips and getaways.
Chevron is one of the most widely known gas stations in the U.S. It has 6,800+ locations scattered across cities, rural areas, and interstate highways, so you’ll likely come across several on road trips.
Fortunately, most Chevron retail stores sell bagged ice. You can buy 10 to 20 pounds of cubed ice while filling your tank.
BP is another accessible gas station. It has 6,900+ locations scattered across 32 states, most of which have sizable general merchandise stores.
Just expect most stores to sell 20-pound bags of cubed ice. Based on the reviews we read, BP rarely stocks up on smaller sizes of bagged ice.
PRO TIP: We suggest using their cheap self-service car wash stations so that your car stays clean during long trips.
Admittedly, Circle K only comes second to 7-Eleven. It has 5,900+ locations nationwide, while 7-Eleven has more than 9,500 operating branches.
However, Circle K is known for providing excellent customer service. Their well-trained staff will assist you with glee, plus they carry a massive inventory of affordable products—from bagged ice cubes to emergency overnight supplies.
Family Express is a growing fueling station and convenience store with nearly 90 locations nationwide. It sells cubed and crushed ice in 8- and 20-pound bags.
Although Family Express doesn’t have as many branches yet, its president/CEO goes the extra mile to maintain quality service and cleanliness. You won’t find as many gas stations as clean as Family Express.
ExxonMobil is a widely accessible gas station with 12,000+ branches nationwide. Most locations sell cubed ice in 10- to 20-pound bags, although smaller stations might not have convenience stores.
Walgreens easily ranks among the top specialty retail stores in the U.S. It has near 8,890 locations nationwide—most of which carry a broad range of items, from bagged ice cubes to prescription medication.
Kwik Trip has 800+ locations nationwide, 450+ of which are in Wisconsin. They sell 10- to 20-pound bags of cubed ice.
Although it’s not as accessible as other widely known brands, Wisconsin residents hail it as their go-to fuel station. It has clean restrooms, affordable gas, and well-managed stores.
Cumberland Farms has 580+ locations in 8 states, the majority of which are in Massachusetts. You might spot one or two while driving across interstate highways.
Although Cumberland Farms isn’t as widely known as the other establishments on this list, it provides an excellent shopping experience. Most Cumberland Farms stores sell cubed and crushed ice in 5-, 10-, and 20-pound bags.
Also, you’ll find everything you need in their stores. While filling up on gas, you can browse through their general merchandise stores for snacks, drinks, OTC drugs, magazines, toiletries, groceries, and, of course, bagged ice.
Although you can quickly purchase small bags of ice at gas stations, these establishments typically charge more than their wholesaler counterparts. Also, you likely can’t buy in bulk.
If you need large amounts of ice regularly without going over budget, check out big-box stores and supermarkets. Some popular options include:
Costco is the 3rd largest retailer in the U.S. With 800+ locations in 46 states, you’ll likely find at least one Costco nearby.
It sells cubed ice in 24-pound bags. One bag costs around $3, but expect to spend more in Costco stores near popular tourist areas and recreation spots.
The BJ’s Wholesale Club has 240+ locations nationwide, 40+ of which are in New York. It doesn’t carry as many items as its wholesale competitors, but it has gas stations in most branches.
BJ’s Wholesale Club often sells cubed ice in 20-pound bags. However, you might come across some locations selling 16-pound bags, although they’re not as common.
Albertsons has 2,200+ stores in 34 states. Most locations sell cubed ice in 10- to 20-pound bags, but some might agree to sell ice per pound at $0.25.
Admittedly, Albertsons can’t compete with larger big-box stores like Costco yet. However, the company tops the California market since it has 120+ locations in the state.
Cub Foods has 100+ stores nationwide. Although they’re not as accessible as other big-box stores, they do same-day deliveries and store pick-up requests.
Most Cub Foods locations sell cubed ice in 6-pound bags. However, you’ll find that larger stores also stock q on 10-pound bags, and they carry a broader range of merchandise.
Fred Meyer currently has 140+ locations in the U.S. More than 60 of them are in Washington, so you should encounter several if you live or visit there.
Most stores only carry 10-pound bags of cubed ice. You’ll see different brands, but expect to pay no more than $3.00 for whichever one you choose.
Food Lion has 1,100+ locations nationwide. You’ll find these branches in 10 U.S. states and territories, but note that 500+ of them are in North Carolina.
The price of ice per pound is a bit steep. However, it has so many locations in North Carolina, so residents can at least take advantage of its delivery and pick-up services.
Food Giant is an employee-owned company that prides itself on its personable staff and quality customer service.
The 10-pound bags are a bit steep. However, we like that the supermarket features a broad selection of raw meats, deli cuts, veggies, and ready-to-eat meals—which you’ll like if you’re hosting a party.
Harris Teeter has 250+ locations in seven states. Most people recognize it as a supermarket brand, but it also has 60+ gas stations.
All branches sell bagged ice. You’ll likely come across 5- to 10-pound bags of cubed ice, but some locations might also carry crushed ice.
Giant Food has 160+ locations in five states. The company is best known for its 150+ supermarkets and full-service pharmacies in Maryland.
Admittedly, it doesn’t have as many locations as other grocery stores. However, we like that it sells cubed ice in varying bag sizes—most shops just carry 10- or 20-pounds bags.
Giant Eagle has been around for 90+ years now. However, unlike its retail competitors, it focused on steady growth and quality control instead of mass expansion.
There are only 480+ Giant Eagle locations nationwide. 210+ are full-service supermarkets, while the other 260+ are only convenience stores.
But don’t worry—you can rest assured that most locations sell ice.
Section where stores keep bags of ice
Supermarkets and convenience stores usually keep their bagged iced near their refrigerators of chilled drinks. You’ll likely find it near the cash registers.
Stores often position them near the exit so that customers can quickly grab them before checking out. After all, nobody wants to carry around a large bag of ice while shopping.
Different types of bagged ice
You might not put much thought into it, but there are several types of ice, including:
- Cubed Ice: It’s the most common and widely used type of ice. Not only can you buy them in 10- to 20-pound bags, but modern refrigerators also have built-in cubed ice makers.
- Flake Ice: Restaurants typically use flake ice to display raw delicacies like fish, shrimp, sushi, clams, and oysters since it melts slowly. Unfortunately, stores rarely carry flake ice. You need to reach out to ice distributors directly if you need a bag or two.
- Chipped Ice: Bars like using chipped ice for specialty drinks. It doesn’t melt slower than cubed or crushed ice but has a unique, appealing jagged texture.
- Crushed Ice: Drinks like cocktails and smoothies will taste richer if you use crushed ice instead of cubed ice. Also, it often costs less to make than chipped ice.
If you run a bar or often mix cocktails, check out trays that mold ice into spheres. Not only do they make your drinks look more appealing, but they also dissolve slower.
The most popular brands of ice
People rarely buy ice based on brand. In all likelihood, they buy whatever bagged ice is available at the local supermarket or convenience store.
Let’s assess the most popular distributors. For instance, statistics show that 7-Eleven ranks among the top convenience stores in the country, so it’s fair to assume their bags of cubed ice are relatively popular as well.
Again, different stores stock up on varying merchandise. However, you can generally expect most locations to carry the following brands of ice:
- Arctic Glacier
Note that many stores also sell generic cubed ice. They cost less than branded ones, plus you can buy them in bulk at supermarkets.
Using EBT to buy bags of ice
Most Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants use their Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards to purchase eligible food items. The qualified products range from raw ingredients to dairy products.
However, unbeknownst to many, you can also use EBT cards to buy edible items that the U.S. Department of Agriculture doesn’t label as food. You should have no problem using SNAP benefits on bags of ice.
Best way to store bags of ice
Don’t just stuff bags of ice in your freezer. Otherwise, the other frozen food items will likely contaminate them with their juices and blood.
Instead, transfer the cubed or crushed ice to a smaller container. Sealed packages like a Ziploc bag or plastic container keep your ice clean and fresh.
However, note that this tip only applies to small households. If you run a restaurant business or cafe, you’d do well to consider investing in a separate ice cooler.
Trust us—your customers won’t appreciate tainted ice.
PRO TIP: If you’re tired of chipping ice cubes clumped together and don’t have Ziploc bags, use paper bags. Paper absorbs the extra moisture from ice, thus keeping the cubes apart.
The transfer process is fairly simple. Grab your bag of ice, pour the contents into a clean paper bag, tightly fold the opening, then place it in the freezer.
You’ll like this tip if one bag of ice typically lasts your household a few days. However, if you run a small business that goes through several pounds of ice regularly, invest in a quality ice pick instead.
Buying cheap bags of ice
Again, dozens of establishments sell ice these days. If you go through your local stores, chances are you’ll find that most carry bags of crushed, flaked, and cubed ice.
However, the question isn’t whether or not you’ll find ice; it’s where you can buy the cheapest bags quickly. After all, nobody wants to waste time scouring different stores.
If you’re a business owner, connect with local ice distributors and find one that offers the best value for your money. Nearby stores might even offer free deliveries.
However, if you only need ice now and then for trips and picnics, we suggest familiarizing yourself with the store locations selling bagged ice in your area. That way, you’ll immediately know where to go if you need ice.