10 Gas Station Rip-Offs (Besides Gas) That You Should Absolutely Avoid Buying

If you pay for these convenience store items, you’re mostly paying extra for the convenience.
Last updated Sept. 7, 2022 | By Olivia Christensen | Edited By Michele Zipp
Murphy USA gas station

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With rising gas prices, you’re likely leaving the gas station feeling a little ripped off these days. It isn’t just the gasoline that’s overpriced at these places. Many gas stations double as convenience stores, which is nice when you’re feeling snacky or you need to grab a bag of ice right, but there’s often a price to pay for “running in and grabbing something real quick.”

While some of the items at the gas station are fairly-priced, others come with a convenience store premium. Here is a list of 10 gas station items you can almost certainly find cheaper somewhere else.

Fruit

DOMINIQUE MARIOTTI/Adobe fresh fruits and vegetables

Whether you are trying to make healthy choices on a road trip or attempting to garnish your margarita with lime after all the grocery stores have closed for the night, there are times in life you just might find yourself at a gas station buying fruit. Heed this warning: You will spend roughly the same amount on an individualized portion of grapes at a gas station as you will on nearly two pounds of grapes at regular grocery stores.

Dairy

Joni/Adobe refrigerated ice cream display at a Wawa gas station

Between ice cream treats for the road and a gallon of milk in an emergency, many of us wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves if we couldn’t grab dairy products at the gas station. However, don’t make it a habit. Nearly all dairy products can be found for a better price elsewhere.

CBD

Jennifer/Adobe CBD product sign at a gas station

CBD may be safer and more effective when purchased from a business you trust to source it responsibly. While sometimes you can buy name-brand CBD from your local gas station, they may carry less recognizable and potentially less reliable brands. Because of this, gas station CBD products often have less CBD in them and are generally less effective than CBD bought from larger retailers. And that price tag is often higher.

Soda

Africa Studio/Adobe different drinks in bottles on shelves of supermarket

Considering how little soda or pop costs to make, it may be considered a rip off wherever you buy it. But, alas, “buy it” is exactly what so many of us do anyway so we may as well find the best prices we can. The key to splurging on soda while managing your money responsibly may be buying it somewhere other than the gas station. You will likely spend more on a 20-ounce bottle of soda at the gas station than you’ll spend on two liters of soda at the grocery store.

Souvenirs

Ivan Zhdan/Adobe green and red caps

Whether you forgot to buy souvenirs during your vacation or you simply had a pleading child hanging off your hip while you pumped the gas, you may have considered buying trinkets from the gas station before. But it's probably best to listen to your instincts cringing at the very idea.

Gas stations are often on the edge of tourist attractions so they will usually sell some tourist favorites. A hat or a coffee mug is a standard product and you may as well buy it if it suits your fancy — though expect to pay more. It’s advisable to try and buy most souvenirs from local makers.

Toilet paper

Dragana Gordic/Adobe  Woman hold rolls of toilet paper

The thing is, if you’re buying toilet paper at a gas station, you’re likely dealing with something of an emergency situation. And gas stations generally price their supplies to reflect the desperation behind the demand. Part of the reason toilet paper can be overpriced at gas stations is because of the item size. If you’re buying a few rolls, you will be paying more per unit than if you bought a larger pack at a regular store.

That said, if you’re in a bind, don’t be too hard on yourself for paying extra at the gas station. If you have one of the best credit cards for gas and groceries, you can earn points for any purchase (even the desperate ones).

Paper towels

Praneat/Adobe tissues roll pack for sell at supermarket

Like toilet paper, paper towels typically run pricey at gas stations because you are buying individual rolls rather than buying a multi-pack. If you’re making this purchase for reasons of convenience, then it’s not about the deal, it’s about the need. But if you’re committed to sticking with a budget you should probably buy your paper towels elsewhere as often as possible.

Lip balm

Mat Hayward/Adobe store display of Burt's Bees lip balm

Nothing seems to go missing quite as often as lip balm. One minute you buy a 12-pack and the next minute you’re frantically turning out the pockets of winter coats because there has to be at least one tube somewhere.

If this happens to you when your lips go dry on the road, you may find yourself pulling off at the nearest gas station for relief. And hey, desperate times call for desperate measures — but be aware that the price of a tube of Carmex at larger retailers is usually under a dollar, while the price for a single tube of at gas stations is often three times that amount.

Phone chargers

dontree/Adobe iPhone charger in box

Phone chargers can be easy to forget and nearly impossible to do without when you’re going on a journey. If you find yourself dealing with this particular headache, gas stations can be very tempting places. They will almost certainly have the phone charger you so desperately need. But beware — off-brand chargers can damage your phone and are not worth the price tag.

Over-the-counter medicine

ColleenMichaels/Adobe boxes of Tylenol for sale

If you’re trying to figure out how to save money in little ways, one idea might be stashing a bottle of acetaminophen in your glove box. It can be hard to know when a headache is coming on, but if it happens to you on the road, you’ll likely get stuck with gas station offerings, and they’re nearly always overpriced.

Bottom line

hansenn/Adobe gas station

As painful as filling your gas tank can be these days due to inflated prices, the gas station is still a convenient place to shop, especially when you don’t have any other options. In fact, get yourself a gas station rewards card and your desperate gas station purchases might actually help you reduce what you end up paying at the pump.

Try not to take the “convenience” in convenience stores too far. A savvy comparison shopper can nearly always find a better price somewhere else.

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Author Details

Olivia Christensen Olivia Christensen is a freelance writer and columnist whose work has been featured in HuffPost, Business Insider, and more. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri, with her husband and three kids, and when she isn't writing, she's probably hiking.