The 3 Worst Money Mistakes You Are Making at the Gas Station

man at gas pump
Photo by tostphoto / Shutterstock.com

Nobody enjoys the expense of filling up an empty gas tank. But you can easily make the situation much worse with a few simple — and very common — money mistakes.

Some of these under-the-radar missteps are especially harmful to your budget, especially if you make them repeatedly.

Following are some of the costliest money mistakes you can make at a gas station.

1. Grabbing a drink

We cite stopping at convenience stores as a major money waster in “7 Ways You Throw Away Money Every Day.” And grabbing water or caffeine at the gas station is really no different.

Say you grab a 16-ounce bottle of water for $1. Surely a convenience purchase is harmless when it’s only a buck, right? Not exactly.

You just paid $8 a gallon — far more than you would ever pay for gasoline — for something that flows freely from your home faucet. That’s not the kind of mistake that most folks can afford to repeat if they hope to retire comfortably.

So, invest in a reusable water bottle or an insulated tumbler already, and never pay for water again.

Then, start adding all those dollars you save to a high-paying savings account or a retirement account.

2. Paying for gas with a debit card

Every time you use a debit card at a gas pump, you effectively increase your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft.

Criminals attach skimmers — illegal card readers that steal your card numbers — to gas pump payment terminals because they are not manned by employees. We detail this in “9 Things You Should Never Pay For With a Debit Card.”

If you pay with cash, that’s not an issue. If you pay with a credit card, it’s not much of an issue because credit card transactions are covered by a federal law that limits your responsibility for unauthorized charges to $50.

Your debit card, however, does not enjoy such protections. You have to report such losses in a timely manner to ensure you get most of your money back.

If a criminal steals your debit card numbers from a gas pump skimmer and uses it to ring up hundreds or thousands of dollars in purchases before you realize it, there’s no guarantee you’ll ever see that money again.

In addition, debit card fraud typically allows the thief to tap directly into your checking account. If someone steals all the money from your account — even just temporarily — will you have enough money stashed away in an emergency fund to cover bills while you wait for the stolen money to be recovered?

3. Buying premium gas

If your car requires high-octane gasoline, you should shell out for it. But if premium gas is merely recommended, you’re better off saving your money, AAA says.

Many drivers are not doing either of these things, though. According to a 2018 AAA report, Americans collectively waste $2.1 billion per year on high-octane gas when it isn’t required or even recommended for their cars.

To learn more about whether regular, premium or Top Tier gas is best for your car, check out “This Is the No. 1 Mistake Drivers Make When Filling Up.”

How to earn $30 in less than 30 seconds

Earn extra money by using Rakuten (formerly known as Ebates) — a site that gets you cash back at more than 2,500 stores. As a bonus for joining Rakuten between now and Aug. 6, 2020, you'll earn $30 when you spend at least $30 shopping online through Rakuten within the first 90 days. Start earning cash back and claim a free $30 bonus today.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
7 Effortless Ways to Make Extra Money
7 Effortless Ways to Make Extra Money

In the digital age, new ways of earning cash crop up all the time — and some require next to no effort on your part.

7 Reasons Workers Age 65 and Older Have Not Retired Yet
7 Reasons Workers Age 65 and Older Have Not Retired Yet

For some, the golden years are a time to increase the gold — but their reasons for delaying retirement vary widely.

5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic
5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic

Generic products are a great way to save money, but sometimes the brand-name version is clearly superior.

9 Things You Should Never Pay For With a Debit Card
9 Things You Should Never Pay For With a Debit Card

Use your debit card for one of these expenses, and you could risk your bank account balance, your credit score or even identity fraud.

Beware These 5 Common Work-From-Home Scams
Beware These 5 Common Work-From-Home Scams

You can spot scammers and con artists with a little know-how.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?

Two factors determine how much money is coming to you.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling
20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling

You probably don’t need a year’s supply of toilet paper to survive an outbreak, but consider stocking up on these items.

5 Household Disinfectants That Can Destroy the Coronavirus
5 Household Disinfectants That Can Destroy the Coronavirus

You likely already have some of these products at home.

22 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store
22 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store

The dollar store has great bargains on these purchases.

6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman
6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman

Beware: The self-proclaimed personal finance expert has a track record that suggests more sizzle than steak.

16 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
16 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise
America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise

Have you heard of this appliance manufacturer?

The Top 11 Jobs That Employers Want Retirees to Do
The Top 11 Jobs That Employers Want Retirees to Do

Tired of age discrimination? Businesses are clamoring for older workers to fill certain roles.

This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked
This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked

The Social Security Administration is not helping certain people get money to which they are entitled, a report says.

9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline
9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline

Forget expensive specialty products. Good ol’ petroleum jelly can address many common annoyances.

Getting These 2 Shots Could Reduce Your Risk of Dementia
Getting These 2 Shots Could Reduce Your Risk of Dementia

These vaccines may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to 40%.

19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret
19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret

Think twice before buying these things.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing food supply. Is your pantry prepared?

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

8 of the Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar Store
8 of the Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar Store

Not everything sold at dollar stores is a great bargain or a safe purchase. Here’s our list of products to avoid.

41 Things You Should Never Buy
41 Things You Should Never Buy

Some purchases are just plain dumb. Give yourself — and your budget — a break. Don’t spend money on this stuff.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

7 Ways to Shop at Costco Without a Membership
7 Ways to Shop at Costco Without a Membership

You don’t necessarily need to join to get in on the warehouse store’s savings.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.