Business

Pay cash, get cheaper gas

Gas station manager Bill Tom plans to reward customers who use cash with a discount.

The manager of the KOA Exxon in Fort Mill, S.C., says he'll shave a nickle a gallon this month, and maybe more later in the year.

“If we do it, everyone else in this area will follow.”

Businesses pay an extra fee for accepting plastic.

As gas prices move steadily skyward, station managers continue to look for new ways to maintain sales as customers try to save money on fuel.

One easy way to find cheaper gas is to fill up in South Carolina, where the sales tax on gas is about half of North Carolina's. The average price for a gallon of regular in South Carolina was $3.858 Friday, compared to $3.976 for North Carolina, according to AAA.

But some S.C. station managers, like Tom, are considering offering discounts for paying cash to lure customers in the face of increasing prices. The practice is not common in Charlotte or North Carolina but the norm in other states.

When taking cash, merchants avoid debit and credit card processing fees, which run about 3 percent or 12 cents a gallon when a customer uses plastic, Tom said.

The manager said he's tired of paying the $200- to $500-a-day in fees when he could offer a cheaper cash price to benefit customers and attract business. A gallon of regular was $3.89 there Thursday.

Others S.C. stations have been offering the cash discounts for years.

The Observer found gas stations in Upstate South Carolina offering cash and credit prices, especially in Lancaster, about 40 miles south of Charlotte. At least half of the stations there were offering two prices.

At the Exxon at Crenco Food Stores in Lancaster, the price Thursday was 7 cents cheaper for cash at $3.82 per gallon. Several stations along U.S. 521 offered a similar price spread with a cash price listed on the main billboard and a more expensive credit price listed on a smaller ground-level sign.

Some Lancaster stations that offered a single price scoffed at the practice, saying it was unfair to those who don't carry cash and an inconvenience because cash transactions mean you can't swipe a card pumpside.

They also pointed out that their one price was usually at or below the other stations' supposedly cheaper cash prices.

North Corner Grocery store in Lancaster County was selling its gas Thursday at one price, and it was perhaps the cheapest in the county at $3.77 a gallon. “I don't think it's right, to tell you the truth,” said owner Harold Powers.

Gas station manager Bill Tom plans to reward customers who use cash with a discount.

The manager of the KOA Exxon in Fort Mill, S.C., says he'll shave a nickle a gallon this month, and maybe more later in the year.

“If we do it, everyone else in this area will follow.”

Businesses pay an extra fee for accepting plastic.

As gas prices move steadily skyward, station managers continue to look for new ways to maintain sales as customers try to save money on fuel.

One easy way to find cheaper gas is to fill up in South Carolina, where the sales tax on gas is about half of North Carolina's. The average price for a gallon of regular in South Carolina was $3.858 Friday, compared to $3.976 for North Carolina, according to AAA.

But some S.C. station managers, like Tom, are considering offering discounts for paying cash to lure customers in the face of increasing prices. The practice is not common in Charlotte or North Carolina but the norm in other states.

When taking cash, merchants avoid debit and credit card processing fees, which run about 3 percent or 12 cents a gallon when a customer uses plastic, Tom said.

The manager said he's tired of paying the $200- to $500-a-day in fees when he could offer a cheaper cash price to benefit customers and attract business. A gallon of regular was $3.89 there Thursday.

Others S.C. stations have been offering the cash discounts for years.

The Observer found gas stations in Upstate South Carolina offering cash and credit prices, especially in Lancaster, about 40 miles south of Charlotte. At least half of the stations there were offering two prices.

At the Exxon at Crenco Food Stores in Lancaster, the price Thursday was 7 cents cheaper for cash at $3.82 per gallon. Several stations along U.S. 521 offered a similar price spread with a cash price listed on the main billboard and a more expensive credit price listed on a smaller ground-level sign.

Some Lancaster stations that offered a single price scoffed at the practice, saying it was unfair to those who don't carry cash and an inconvenience because cash transactions mean you can't swipe a card pumpside.

They also pointed out that their one price was usually at or below the other stations' supposedly cheaper cash prices.

North Corner Grocery store in Lancaster County was selling its gas Thursday at one price, and it was perhaps the cheapest in the county at $3.77 a gallon. “I don't think it's right, to tell you the truth,” said owner Harold Powers.

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