4 Things You Need To Know About Prepaying For Gas

prepaying for gas, refueling tips, refueling advice

Being from the Midwest, traveling to other parts of the country exposes me to different ways of doing things. Sometimes the most common of tasks are approached differently, causing me to handle my finances just a little differently. I encountered one of these scenarios at the gas pump during a long car trip with my family.

I pulled up to the pump, picked up the handle and looked for the button that said, “Pay inside.” I scanned the face of the pump several times, but couldn’t find it. What I did find was a sticker that stating that customers paying with cash needed to prepay inside. I wanted to pay with cash, but it seemed inconvenient to go inside. Plus, I wasn’t sure exactly how the process worked, as I didn’t know exactly how much it would cost to fill up my tank.

Over the course of my trip I went through this process several times, learning the following pieces of information:

Prepay is Normal

In the upper Midwest, paying for gas after filling up is common. I’ve found that if I travel far enough in any direction prepaying becomes the norm. I can only guess that people driving away without paying is much more of a problem outside my Midwest bubble.

Pay Any Amount

Customers can prepay any amount inside the store. The pump will stop when your payment is exhausted, or your tank is full.

Getting Change

If you prepay an amount that is greater than the amount put into your vehicle, you have to go back inside the store to get your change.

Requires Change In Perspective 

At home, I will fill up and then go into the store to pay for my gasoline as well as pick up any additional items I wanted from the convenience store. When prepayment is needed, one would simply go into the store to prepay and get your items first.

Prepayment of gasoline is the norm in much of the country, but for some this is a foreign concept. The first time one encounters having to prepay, it may seem confusing as to exactly how the process is supposed to work. With this information, if you encounter having to prepay you are now well informed to handle the situation if you still want to pay cash!

How about you, Clever Friends, are you able to pay for gasoline after you pump where you live, or are you required to prepay?

Here are some of my favorite articles you may want to check out:

Thinking of becoming a member of the National Consumer Panel?
A review of Blue Apron
Saving on water utilities if you have a pool
Top things to remember when applying for a loan
Which is Cheaper: Keg or Canned Beer?

Brought to you courtesy of Brock

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About the author

Brock Kernin


  • I’ve never been to a gas station that doesn’t require me to prepay before I start pumping, but I’ve also never had to pay for gas in the upper Midwest, so that makes sense. I wonder why it’s different across the country.

    • It’s definitely a regional thing. Either way, it’s a bit of a culture shock to see the opposite “norm.” I don’t know if it’s a matter of people in the midwest being more trusting or what.

  • In my country, there are no self service stations. So if you want to pay cash, you can do so without leaving the car. For credit cards, you need to go inside.

    • Wow, Tpol, it’s been YEARS since I’ve seen a full service station in the US. I don’t think I’d like it, honestly, I’m a “I can do it faster myself” kind of guy. 🙂

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