7 Money Mistakes You Might Be Making at the Gas Station

Written by |

Much of the nation has seen steady gas prices of late, which is good news for your wallet. But just because prices are lower than they have been, that’s no reason to slack on ways to save at the pump.

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 on only payday, you could be throwing money away.

Monday is actually 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 anywhere Mastercard is accepted. The Costco Anywhere Visa 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 can help you earn 2% cash back on everyday purchases. Find out why Clark added this credit card to his wallet.

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.

Want to know more about gas station rewards? Read how 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 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 fillup.

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

Welcome bonuses can be a great way to boost the value of a credit card. Best Credit Card Sign-up Bonuses for 2023 - Team Clark spent hours reviewing the market for credit card sign-up bonuses and evaluated them according to the guidelines for usage set by money expert Clark Howard. Clark believes credit cards with exorbitant annual fees are a bad idea for most…
The best cell phone plans include Tello, Mint Mobile, Visible, T-Mobile, Consumer Cellular and more Best Cell Phone Plans in 2023: The Cheapest Plan for Every Need - Team Clark ranks the best cell phone plans and deals! See our favorites for unlimited data, families and cheap plans starting at $10/month.