Filling up your car in the USA can be a bit tricky at first. At some stations, you have to pay upfront, the names of the gasoline vary, and you still need to know the trick to paying with a credit card. We also know the price of gasoline in the USA and can give you advice on how to use the automatic dispenser.
How to Fuel up in the USA
In the USA, you have to pay for the fuel first, then you can fill up. Each kiosk is equipped with a card reader for this purpose. Insert a payment card and select credit card, even if you have a debit card. To verify, you will be asked to enter the zip code of your permanent residence. If the randomly entered zip code (I use 90210) doesn’t work, you’ll need to go to the cashier.
If the card is declined, try selecting debit card. However, you will most likely need to see the attendant. Ask them to prepay for fuel at your pump. You should have enough for a full tank of $150 or so. You can authorize a higher amount, any unspent money will be refunded. You can then refuel.
The fuel type is usually selected by a button on the dispenser. If you have prepaid your fuel, be sure to see the attendant after you refuel to have any unused credit refunded to your card.
Names of Gasoline in the USA
Gas stations in America typically offer three types of gasoline, which differ in octane rating and, logically, in price. Some petrol stations use their own labels for each fuel.
- Regular (87 octane) is regular gasoline. It is also sold as Unleaded.
- Midgrade (89-90 octane) refers to higher quality gasoline. You may encounter Unleaded Plus, Plus (Exxon and Shell).
- Premium (91-94 octane) is premium gasoline for sports cars. It is also referred to as Unleaded Premium, Supreme (Exxon), V-Power (Shell).
Octane numbers in the USA are calculated differently than in Europe; roughly 5 must be added to the USA value. The rental car is most often filled with the cheapest Regular.
In normal car driving in America, you are unlikely to encounter diesel engines. Diesel is only available at select gas stations.
USA Gasoline Prices 2023
Fuel prices in America are quoted per gallon, which translates to 3.785 litres. They may vary at some petrol stations depending on the method of payment. Paying cash is usually cheaper than paying by card, where the retailer must divert a portion of the payment to the card company.
Gasoline is cheaper in mining states (Oklahoma or Texas), while fuel is more expensive in places like Hawaii. The figures in the table are valid as of May 27, 2023, and converted to 1 litre. For an up-to-date summary, visit GasBuddy.com.
State Regular Mid-Grade Premium Texas $0.83 $0.93 $1.02 Oklahoma $0.86 $0.95 $1.01 Florida $0.90 $1.01 $1.09 USA average $0.95 $1.06 $1.15 New York $0.98 $1.09 $1.19 Hawaii $1.26 $1.31 $1.38 Nevada $1.13 $1.20 $1.26 California $1.28 $1.33 $1.37
How to Fill Up Your Car at an Automated Dispenser in the USA
At some gas stations, you may encounter automated dispensers where you are required to fill up your car without the presence of an attendant. Initially, you must insert your credit card into the machine and promptly pull it out. Contrary to an ATM, it doesn’t remain inside the machine.
Following this, you merely adhere to the instructions displayed on the pump. Typically, you’ll need to input a postcode to authorize the card. Once this is completed, you can remove the nozzle from its holder, select your preferred gasoline by pressing the corresponding button, and commence refueling. Upon concluding your refueling, replace the nozzle in its holder.
Detailed instructions are available via this YouTube video.
The Most Renowned Gas Stations in the USA
There are innumerable gas station brands operating throughout the USA, with some exclusively represented in specific states. The following ten are among the most extensive chains:
- Exxon Mobil
- Phillips 66
- Murphy USA