Gas Stations Charging More for Credit Card Users?
Many Americans have taken up a new hobby — hunting for the gas station with the lowest prices. But the hunt has gotten exponentially harder as the price of oil has skyrocketed and the posted price may not even be advertised, especially if the consumer wants to pay with a credit card.
To combat the hefty fees that card companies are charging gas stations, many owners have passed the costs on to the consumer by charging more per gallon if the payment is made with plastic instead of cash. The card giant Visa, for instance, typically charges a 2 percent fee for each credit card transaction to the station owner. If the price of a gallon of gas is $4.11, that translates to about 8 cents a gallon, which is then passed on to the consumer who pays with a credit card. But sometimes, as ABC’s New York affiliate found, some gas stations take the opportunity to charge even more exorbitant increases — as much as 50 cents per gallon.
But increased profit from credit card customers is not the only reason to raise prices for those who pay with plastic. As more people use cash to save at the pump, they are forced to come inside the store to pay, which creates another opportunity for the gas station owner. “Because while you’re in there, you’re going to also pick up a coffee, a soda, maybe even a sandwich,” Mount said.
Those of us who were buying gas twenty years ago recall this practice, although it was almost always posted in big signs by the pumps. It was also widely outlawed, prompting some station owners to offer a “cash discount” rather than the illegal “credit card surcharge.”
Indeed, many stations are doing that again. It’s a practice that makes sense, really, given the skyrocketing price of gas and the low margins at the station level. With most of us now swiping our cards and never entering the mini-mart to pay, station owners are getting squeezed.
But hidden fees? Let alone 50 cents a gallon?! That’s certainly criminal.