Fill the tank (or not), not your credit card


If you’ve ever looked at your credit card statement and wondered how it adds up so quickly, the answer might be in your gas station habits.  Want to lower your credit card statement?  Then why not try some of these changes of habit?

If you are using premium gasoline – stop.  Stop, that is, to check your owners manual.  There actually are a very few models that require premium gasoline for best performance.  But for most cars, premium gasoline brings no benefits above those already offered by regular gasoline.

When you stop to fill up, do you also fill up on snacks?  Soda?  Chips?  Other stuff that you probably should not eat as often because they are padding that inner tube growing around the middle?

Well, here’s some news for you.  Those same snacks are also padding your credit card statement.  Gas stations typically sell their snacks at a premium.  Why?  Because they make very little profit on the gasoline (I know most people don’t want to believe it, but it’s true).  They make their big profits by charging more for snacks than you would pay to buy them at the grocery store.

Do yourself a favor. Buy gas at the gas station and groceries at the grocery store.

Do you fill up your tank?  I mean all the way, completely full?  Don’t.  The heavier your car is, the more energy it takes to move it – so a heavy car burns more gasoline.  It’s true.  If two drivers take the same car at the same speed down the same road for the same distance, the 300 pound driver will burn more fuel than the 150 pound driver.

When you fill your fuel tank all the way, you carry a heavier load than if you fill your tank only half-way.  If you fill it half-way each time, you will have to stop for gasoline twice as often.  This is good news if you have a small bladder, but bad news if you feel compelled to buy a snack at every stop (see above).

Before you leave the gas station do you check your tires?  Underinflated tires can increase your fuel usage by up to five percent.  That could easily be costing you $100, $200 or maybe even more each year.  Plus, tires wear out a lot faster when they are underinflated.  So over the life of your vehicle you could find yourself having to buy an extra set of tires, which could cost upwards of $500, just for not keeping them properly inflated.

So to recap…

  • Fuel: regular
  • Snacks: pass
  • Tank: half full
  • Tires: full


There are plenty of other expenses on your credit cards than just the gas stations.  And there are plenty of things you can do away from the gas station to reduce gas station expenses (like car pooling, driving smarter, maintaining your vehicle better, etc.).  But at least you can now your visits to the gas station will be optimized for minimal credit card shock.


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