Why You Should Pay Gas with Cash Instead of Credit Card

Why You Should Pay Gas with Cash Instead of Credit Card

Paying Gas with Cash vs. Credit

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you’re in between gas stations, but the one on the other side of the road has cheaper prices? Let’s say that you make the effort to make a U-turn so that you can get the cheaper price to fill up your gas tank. You insert your credit card and… Why in the world did the price just shoot up 10 cents a gallon? That wasn’t the price that was advertised on the sign! Come to find out, the advertised price is the price you get if you pay with cash.

Paying Gas with Credit

If you’re like most consumers, you use your credit card to pay at the gas pump. It’s so easy, right? But this convenience comes with a cost. The gas you’re paying for might be more expensive than you thought by 5- to 10- cents per gallon. This might not sound like a lot, but it certainly adds up over time. The advertised gas price is to lure you in and is the price you’d get if you paid with cash. The question, then, is why does it even matter? Well, like other merchants, gas stations get charged whenever a customer uses a credit card. This is why sometimes you’ll see minimum purchase signs taped to card readers at the store, “$10 minimum purchase,” asking you to spend at least a certain amount in order to use your card. To make up for this card charge, gas stations will put a surcharge on people who use their credit cards instead of cash.

Paying Gas with Cash

If you use cash, you eliminate the credit card surcharge and you end up paying the lower advertised price. Some gas stations are actually required to put the credit card price as the advertised price on their signs. Some also put “Cash” next to the price on the signs to let consumers know that it’s the cash price. But these laws vary from state to state. To be on the safe side, it’s best to go inside and pay for gas with cash. It’s also a lot safer to pay with cash because nowadays thieves will put skimmers on credit card readers at the gas pump. They can collect your information and make fraudulent charges. Check out our blog on how to spot and avoid a credit card skimmer. So, paying with cash not only gives you the lower price for gas, but it’s also safer.

Tips: How to Avoid Credit Card Surcharges

Here are some tips provided by Consumer Reports on how to avoid credit card surcharges at gas stations:

  • Comparison shop – Shop around for the best price. You can look online, but be sure to look at whether the prices are for cash or credit. Also, just because one gas station has a lower cash price, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the lowest price around town or its credit price is the highest.
  • Pay attention – Check the prices carefully to make sure it’s not a cash-only price if you must use a credit card.
  • Do the math – If you’re using a cash-back credit card, do your research and calculate whether it’s worth using your card. You might find that you’d still be paying a little more using your card than using cash.
  • Check debit card prices – Some gas stations give you a debit card discount. However, at most places, if you use your debit card, you should expect to pay the credit price.
  • Carry enough cash – This is an obvious one. Carry enough cash with you to pay for gas and avoid the credit card surcharge.
  • Complain – This isn’t the most ideal, but you can certainly express your outrage to the clerk and see if they’ll do anything to alleviate the problem.

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Karina Philaphandeth