Energy Economy

Why Consumers Are Paying Too Much at the Pump

In a recent study, GasBuddy revealed that drivers are prone to overpaying by at least 20 cents per gallon at the pump. This is due to factors such as laziness and procrastination.

GasBuddy, with its smartphone app connecting over 70 million drivers, conducted the study to find out why consumers decide where and when to stop for fuel, as well as explain how these decisions could be costing drivers.

Essentially, most consumers are creatures of habit. The study found that nearly 80% of respondents have a gas station they regularly go to. When choosing a regular station, almost 38% of drivers say it’s because the station’s location is convenient.

Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, commented:

Drivers are getting lazier, and going to the same station because it’s convenient can cost you. The station two blocks away could be 20-40 cents per gallon lower in price, and while that’s only a few dollars’ difference per fill-up, it amounts to the hundreds of dollars per year you could be saving if you shop around.

Also, only 19% of people decide to fill up when they see a station with a good price, with most (37%) waiting until they only have a quarter tank left of gas, while 28% wait until the gas light comes on. Even worse: over one-third (35%) of those surveyed have run out of gas.

GasBuddy makes the point that consumers are paying for convenience by not planning ahead. In the study, 50% of respondents choose a gas station based on location, while 16% choose a station depending on ease of entrance.

In terms of drivers’ payment preferences, 69% of people use a credit or debit card to purchase gasoline instead opting for cash. DeHaan added:

This is an interesting trend, because while stations do offer a cash discount, credit and debit cards now offer discounts on gasoline as well. Paying with cash can be even less convenient when cards like Pay with GasBuddy can offer the same competitive discount that cash offers. Bottom line: While cash is still a way to save, do your research to find out if you qualify for additional savings at the pump with a card instead of carrying cash.

Gas prices have been inching up these past few months and, in turn, consumers are filling up with regular instead of more expensive grades like mid-grade or premium fuel. Even so, 8% of consumers still fill-up with premium and 5% with mid-grade.