10 Tips Gas Stations Don't Want You to Know

Gaspump MSN Money compiled a list of 10 things that could potentially save you money next time you go to the gas station. It turns out that gas stations, oil companies, credit card companies and a host of others may not have your best interest in mind. Consider these the nuggets of consumer information those companies don’t want you to know. Some are obvious, but others not so much.

1) Shop for the best deal: Most gas stations buy from their proprietary company, so they don’t have the luxury of shopping around. Luckily, you do. The cheapest gas in your area may not always be at the same station, so it’s to your advantage to search out the best deal.

2) Gas stations take the hit when prices rise, and that’s when they especially hate the credit card fee, because they’re turning over a large percentage of their cut to card companies. That’s why prices can rise quickly but tend to fall more slowly as station owners attempt to make up lost revenue. Some stations offer better deals to consumers who pay cash.

3) There’s no such thing as “better gas.” Companies like Chevron try to tell you their gas is superior because it has Techron in it. However, all gas has detergents that prevent clogging in the fuel injector, and no brand of gas is better than any other. Don’t buy more expensive fuel just to get a brand name.

4) Don’t use a debit card. When you pay with a debit card, the bank sets aside a certain amount of your funds to cover the transaction. You could pay $15 for gas but have $50 held by the bank before the transaction goes through. This could potentially lead to a bounced check.

5) Gas cards are probably a bad idea. Most gas cards have high annual percentage rates and lack certain fraud protections, and having one may discourage you from shopping around for a better deal. Check CardRatings.com, but in general these cards end up costing more than they save.

6) Use the internet. Sites like GasBuddy.com can help find the cheapest gas in your area. GasPriceWatch.com and Gaswatch.com could also help you find cheap fuel in your area, but with 174 local sites, as well as maps and message boards, GasBuddy remains the most extensive.

7) Make sure a gallon is a gallon. States check the accuracy of gas pumps, but some don’t do it very frequently. Arizona, for example, has only 18 workers to check 2,300 stations. For starters, keep your eyes on the numbers and make sure they don’t start moving before gas is flowing. Old equipment especially can come up with inaccurate results.

8) Buy coffee, not soda. Trying to make up more revenue from the convenience store, gas stations often charge more for soda, candy and other food products. Coffee, cigarettes and beer, on the other hand, remain cheap because they’re high-volume.

9) Don’t count on a service station. The divorce between car repair and fueling up has become almost complete. Gas stations are no longer in the repair business.

10) Search out E85. If you own a flex-fuel car, E85 is typically less expensive (though it also cranks out fewer miles to the gallon, so do the math to make sure it works out in your favor).

10 Things Gas Stations Won’t Tell You (MSNMoney.com)

By Stephen Markley | July 9, 2009 | Comments (12)
Tags: In The News



The debit card rule about the bank setting aside extra money does not apply in all situations. It's actually the gas station that is initially setting aside a large charge, and then updating it with the actual amount later. Try it with the gas station you like to frequent first and check your bank balance online to see how it actually works. Some gas stations bill immediately, like Costco, and there's no "lose $50 when you charge $15" shenanigans.

One reason to favor cash over debit cards is if the gas station (Arco/BP stations, for example) charges a high fee, and if that fee somehow makes the gas just as expensive as the credit-taking station across the street.

Yeah, recently there was a $1.00 placeholder when I checked my card online. A few hours later it was updated with the real amount - $37.50.

If I'm not mistaken, aren't gas stations supposed to have a sign, usually right on/above the pump, if credit/debit is more expensive than cash?

Either way, I've never seen a discrepancy in price whether I've used cash or debit in my area.

I've heard about it before, though. Kinda sneaky if you ask me, but hey, it's BB.


The only time I've seen a cash/credit difference is with diesel. For example, at the truck stop in my town, diesel paid for by credit is usually .10-.15 cents more than if you pay for it with cash. Because of the hit some truck stops take with some credit cards, they no longer accept them thus leaving you to pay for fuel for your rig with either cash, FuelMan, or COMDATA.


Some of these tips are just the dumbest I've heard in while.

1) Sure. Burn another couple of miles worth of gas driving to a particular station just to 'save' a few cents.

3) There IS such thing as "better gas"!

6) Wasting time = wasting money.


I know for a fact Casey's Gas n Go doesn't have the same gas as Shell, Mobil, Chevron, etc.

Tom R.

Tip #3 sounds dubious. The Top Tier gasoline standards formulated by BMW, Toyota, Honda, and GM outline specific test methods and performance metrics, and not all retailers of motor fuels have met those standards.


I know different brand of gas do vary in terms of quality. When I was in environmental science class in fresh year college. We had a tour of a major oil refinery in my area. Off brand gas stations DO also buy gas from them. But the quality is different! They have different pipes, the ones being transport to brand name stations have more additives in them and goes through extra process. While off brand ones get another pipe with less additives.


The myth of name brand gas being "better" is just that...a myth. Maybe they do process it more and add more additives but that doesn't make it any "better" for your car. Similar examples would be to say that name brand bottled water is "better" than generics or organic lettuce is "better" than regular lettuce. You've bitten into their marketing propaganda, hook, line, and sinker.

Thanks for the post!

Here are some additional tips for conserving gas (and, of course, saving money):



If their isn't such a thing as better gas, then why does gas in Europe return better mileage and can sit in your car a lot longer? The Amaco Premier I run in my diesel gets me many extra miles on one tank.


"Better gas" isn't a myth. My old car got significantly better gas mileage on BP gas vs Kwik Trip. I filled up my new car with Sams Club gas once when the price jumped insane and it burned through insanely fast. I would say 8/10 gas is the same but there are a few stations that are blatantly worse.

Robert McNeill

Right...many of you say the brand of gas doesn't make any difference. One of our local car dealers seems to believe that, too, by filling the tank of a new car from a no-name gas station down the street.

BUT -- my Honda owner's manual strongly recommends Top Tier gas -- see toptiergas.com.

OK, OK, one tank of nameless wonder gas won't make any difference, but if you want to run that new engine well above 100,000 miles, maybe up to 200,000 or more, I'd use one of the top tier brands for better control of engine deposits and long-term lower emissions -- and I am using it.

Shell, Exxon, BP, Chevron, Conoco, Kwik Trip. and a bunch of others in the website list.

Post a Comment 

Please remember a few rules before posting comments:

  • If you don't want people to see your email address, simply type in the URL of your favorite website or leave the field empty.
  • Do not mention specific car dealers by name. Feel free to mention your city, state and brand.
  • Try to be civil to your fellow blog readers. This blog is not a fan or enthusiast forum, it is meant to help people during the car-buying process and during the time between purchases, so shoppers can keep a pulse on the market.
  • Stay on topic. We want to hear your opinions and thoughts, but please only comment about the specified topic in the blog post.
view posting rules

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In

Search Results

KickingTires Search Results for

Search Kicking Tires

KickingTires iPhone App