Why Are Gas Stations Charging More For Credit Card Purchases?

Yechial wants to know why his Chase BP Visa card, which offers 5% rebates on gas purchases, costs him more to use at BP stations than if he pays with cash. He asked a BP station owner in Pennsylvania about this and the station owner told him it was because credit transaction fees had gone up—”When I told him that I would report his station to BP and to Chase Bank, he said, ‘Screw you! I don’t care, report me. They are the ones charging us more money for the transactions.'”

Now Yechial wants to know, are BP stations simply charging more to negate the 5% rebate on the Chase BP card, or are they really dealing with higher fees on their end? This L.A. Times article published last week says it’s the second reason—which means any rebate your credit card promises you on gas purchases is going to be inherently less valuable so long as expenses keep rising for station owners.

From the L.A. Times article:

Gas retailers are being hurt by several forces, including lower sales, higher credit card fees and fuel expenses, that are directly tied to this year’s dramatic rise in the price of oil.

In Van der Valk’s case, fuel sales have fallen as much as 10% as customers cut back on driving. The lost volume means fewer customers flow through the convenience store to buy coffee, sodas and other money-making items.

With each price increase, more people use credit cards to buy gas, taking a bigger bite out of station profits. A dealer typically pays a 10-cent transaction fee plus 2% to 2.5% of the total fuel sale for each customer.

Yechial writes, “I have told my wife to no longer use BP gas stations, and we are canceling the BP credit card.” It’s probably not the station owner’s fault he’s having to charge more, but we agree that if the only reason you got the BP card was for the gas purchase rebate, you got a bum deal. (But so did the station owner.)

“Soaring costs are squeezing gas station owners too” [Los Angeles Times]
(Photo: Yogi)