7 Money Mistakes You Might Be Making at the Gas Station

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Gassing up may be a routine exercise, but if you aren’t strategic you could be siphoning money down the drain. Are you making some money mistakes that are costing you?

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

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 fill your gas tank only on payday, you could be throwing money away.

Monday is the best day to buy gas because it costs less. The most expensive day of the week to fill up? Thursday.

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 you 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.

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 for the first $6,000 per year (then 1%). The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi offers 4% cash back on gas for the first $7,000 per year (then 1%).

A simpler cash back credit card like the Citi Double Cash® Card can help you earn 2% cash back on everyday purchases. Find out why it’s also one of the credit cards in Clark’s wallet.


Read about the best gas cards to save money.

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, which can cost 40 cents per gallon more, is a waste of money because it offers no benefit to your car.

For the record, premium gas won’t hurt your vehicle, but it may hurt your wallet if your car doesn’t require it.

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.

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.

Going to the supermarket soon? Read our guide on how you can save on groceries.

6. Not Being a Rewards Member

If you do find yourself buying food often 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.

For example, at RaceTrac, its rewards program allows you to earn 4 points for every dollar spent on qualifying products and 1 point for every gallon of gas bought. You can use the points to get free stuff at RaceTrac or discounts off certain purchases.


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.

What is Top-Tier gas?

Top-Tier gas is fuel that has been tested and verified as having performance-enhancing additives that help reduce carbon emissions as well as wear and tear of your car’s engine.

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 more of your money in the bank and less in the tank.

To 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 station’s food mart.
  6. Join a gas station rewards program.
  7. Use a top-tier gas station.

We also have a guide with several tips to help you save money on gas at every fill-up. 

Know of any other money mistakes not to make at the gas station? Let us know in the Clark.com community.