Gas Stations Are Hosing Debit Card Users at the Pump
Apr 17th 2012 11:15AM
Updated Apr 17th 2012 11:55AM
Feel like you're getting gouged at the gas pump amid rising prices? You actually are if you're using a debit card.
Despite the passage of the Durbin Amendment to the Dodd-Frank legislation last year, gas stations have yet to pass along more than $1 billion in debit card transaction fee savings to consumers, according to a survey released Monday by the Electronic Payments Coalition.
When the Durbin Amendment was under consideration, retailers stressed the need to cap debit card transaction fees to a flat rate of approximately $0.24, rather than allow it to be based on 1.15% of the total transaction, says Trish Wexler, a spokeswoman for the coalition.
"Consumers were used in Washington to get this legislation passed," Wexler said. "There's no evidence they've passed on these savings to consumers. They haven't been able to show they are lowering prices or offering discounts to people who use debit cards."
Indeed. Ever drive into a gas station expecting to pay the low price per gallon advertised on its sign, only to find that deal is only good if you pay in cash?
Ideally, gas stations should list three separate prices per gallon based on the grade: one price for a cash payment, one for a debit transaction, and another if a credit card is used, says Wexler.
To see what the Electronic Payments Coalition thinks consumers should pay at the pump when using a debit card, see their calculator to punch in the price at your local gas station and the size of your gas tank.
Turns out the cost savings, in some cases, could be a wash if you use cash. And that may be the least painful route to take, given that using your debit card takes the money from the same account from which the cash could be pulled.
Motley Fool contributor Dawn Kawamoto does not own stock in any of the companies listed. She is, however, heavily invested in using fossil fuel to run her megamonster gas-guzzler minivan.