I was on fumes and had no choice but to fill-up at the first gas station I saw because I kept pushing it. Why didn't I just fill-up immediately when I left for work instead of getting on the road first?

So I pull into a Shell station and my jaw drops at seeing $5.99 cash, $6.13 credit. WTF is happening. Everywhere in my area gas prices hover between $3.30 and $3.89 so what's up with this station?

We know that gas prices fluctuate based on the price of crude oil. However, according to the How Stuff Works website, stations literally across the street from each other can have different prices for four reasons so here we go.


Crude oil is processed into petroleum products and just like name brands versus generic, Exxon or BP for example buy its contracted brand of gasoline which boasts a special, higher quality recipe. An unbranded station like Costco buys basic, wholesale gasoline. It's branded and unbranded basically.


Cities with higher smog levels or higher air quality laws use reformulated gasoline which is more expensive to produce.  Air quality regulations in general vary state to state as well.


Gas Stations across the street from each other will vary in price depending on how they get their gas. That's based on contracts, purchasing amount, and routes according to How Stuff Works.

Moving crude oil to a refinery, through a pipeline or across an ocean, and on a truck to supply the station adds up. Based on contractual agreements, routes from rig to pump vary considerably, making one station's gasoline more expensive than the others.


The gas station owner, franchisee, or corporation wants to make money so after they've paid their bills they set their price. This is where the mystery or transparency depending on the station determines the price you see on the gas pumps.

Jolana Miller/Townsquare Media
Jolana Miller/Townsquare Media

So what have we learned? Basically, you do you on what's important to you and what you pay. And if you're like me you know where the least expensive gas is and base your fill-ups around that.

Since I'm generally vigilant and pay with cash at the least expensive name-brand stations, I was quickly able to rationalize spending $6.13 for a few gallons to get me on my way until I could hit up my $3.39 station.

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