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If discount is offered, using cash and not plastic can help you save at the pump

Posted at 6:46 AM, Mar 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-23 07:47:46-04

MILWAUKEE — If you're looking for ways to save on gas, changing how you pay to fuel up your tank may help. Some gas stations offer a discount if you use cash at the pump.

Like with most purchases, when you pay for gas, you have choices.

"Mainly I use cash. Sometimes plastic, but mostly cash," said Sherlynne Anthony, who was filling up her tank.

"I just prefer to pay with cash," said Willie White.

Jeff Lenard is with the National Association of Convenience Stores or NACS.

"About four in five gas customers pay by plastic either credit or debit but roughly 21 percent still pay by cash,"

NACS reports 93% of the 2,791 convenience stores in Wisconsin sell gas. During the height of the pandemic, Lenard says plastic was the preferred form of payment, but more people are becoming comfortable with cash and at some stations, there's a benefit to using your paper dollars.

"A lot of retailers are offering cash discounts to customers to help incent them to pay by cash which is a cheaper form of transaction," he said.

The NACS says most of the retailers that do, offer about 5 cents off per gallon to customers paying by cash.

Why the discount? Because gas stations have to pay fees to credit card companies when you use plastic.

For example, the NACS says with a 10-gallon fill-up, assuming the price of gas is $3 a gallon, the debit fee is roughly 2.4 cents per gallon and the credit fee is 7.5 cents per gallon.

Wisconsin state law says if a gas station only shows the cash price for fuel on the street sign, it has to clearly include the words "Cash only."

"There's no real uniform standard for who allows cash discounts and who doesn't. It all depends on the brand, what they want to do, how they want to incent customers," Lenard said.

"Retailers are supposed to post their highest price most prominently and if somebody is not doing that, it's probably because they're new to doing cash discounts or they just confused something," he said.

"It's important to note that these are discounts for cash not surcharges for everything else. That's part of the agreement that you sign when you agree to take a credit card. You are not surcharging for plastic. You are offering a discount for cash because the expenses are less," he said.

The app GasBuddy told TMJ4 it does track cash discounts at stations when they are available. To find out where those gas stations are located, search by "cash or credit" in the app or online.

Also, an app Gas Guru tracks cash discounts. Once you download the app, you can put your city in the search bar, then add the "Cash Discount" filter. You can download the app for your iPhone or Android.

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