7 Money Mistakes You Might Be Making at the Gas Station

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Wasted money going down the gas tank
Image Credit: Dreamstime

How often you go to the gas station may have changed during the coronavirus pandemic, but whether it’s once a week or once a month, there are several things you can do to save money, protect your vehicle and avoid identity theft.

In this article, I’ll outline seven things that could prevent you from getting the most bang for your buck at the pumps.

Don’t Make These 7 Money Mistakes at the Gas Station

Let’s look at some mistakes that may be hurting your wallet.

1. Filling Up on the Wrong Day

Pumping Gas

If you’re one of those people who only fill their gas tank on payday, you could be throwing money away.

Monday is actually the best day to buy gas because it costs less, and prices begin to rise on Friday through the weekend.

2. Paying With a Debit Card

Woman paying cashier with a debit card

Swiping a card is the easiest way to pay at the pump, but make sure you use a credit card instead of a debit card.

Money expert Clark Howard always recommends that we pay for gas — and everything else — with a credit card because it carries better consumer protections. The fact is that once you pay with a debit card, it’s much harder to get your money back if there’s a problem.

Read why Clark says you should never pay for anything with a debit card.

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3. Using the Wrong Credit Card

rewards card

If you’re not thinking about which credit card you’re swiping at the pump, you might be missing out on valuable rewards!

The Sam’s Club Mastercard, for example, offers 5% cash back on gas anywhere Mastercard is accepted. The Costco Anywhere Visa by Citi offers 4% cash back on gas.

A simpler cash back credit card like the Citi Double Cash can help you earn 2% cash back on everyday purchases. Find out why Clark added this credit card to his wallet recently.

4. Not Using the Type of Fuel Recommended for Your Vehicle

Woman fueling up vehicle

Every vehicle comes with a fuel type recommendation, which is usually included in the owner’s manual. If you don’t follow it, there’s a very real possibility you could be wasting money.

For example, if your car doesn’t specifically require premium fuel, filling it up with higher-octane gas — CarFax.com says premium fuel is about 60 cents more a gallon — is a waste of money because it offers no benefit.

This AAA study says you can save money by skipping the premium gas.

5. Shopping at the Gas Station Food Mart

gas station food mart

If you find yourself buying groceries or other items from the gas station food market, you’re most likely paying a higher price than you would if you purchased those same items from a supermarket.

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I get it. You may be trying to save time. But the time you save for convenience is what you will surely lose in dollars.

Once you get to the supermarket, here’s how you can save on groceries.

6. Not Being a Rewards Member

If you do find yourself continually buying food when you stop for fuel, you may want to join a gas station loyalty program to mitigate the damage to your wallet.

Many gas station rewards programs offer perks not just for fuel but also for purchases you make in their convenience stores.

Want to know more about gas station rewards? These gas loyalty programs can save you money.

7. Not Using a Top-Tier Gas Station

Shell gas station

Another money mistake you might not realize you’re making is not using Top-Tier gas in your car. Top-Tier fuel helps extend the life of your vehicle because it has a higher concentration of detergent, which is good for your car.

See if a Top-Tier gas station on this list is near you.

Final Thoughts

Here at Clark.com, we want you to save money at every opportunity. By making some simple adjustments at the gas station you can keep put more of your money in the bank and less in the tank.

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Let’s recap, here are seven money fixes you can make:

  1. Fill Up on the Right Day
  2. Never Use a Debit Card
  3. Use the Right Credit Card
  4. Use the Recommended Fuel Type
  5. Don’t Grocery Shop at the Food Mart
  6. Join a Gas Station Rewards Program
  7. Use a Top-Tier Gas Station

Know of any other money mistakes not to make at the gas station? Let us know in the comments below!

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