By Stephen Markley on July 9, 2009
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)