Americans Prefer Debit Cards at the Pump

Edging out cash and credit, debit appeals to consumers for a variety of reasons.

August 16, 2019

BOSTON—Just over half of U.S. consumers primarily use debit cards when paying at the pump, according to a new survey by Boston-based GasBuddy, a tech company that helps consumers find real-time fuel prices online.

The company’s recent survey of 1,600 consumers found that more than half of the respondents said that gas is considered to be one of the top expenses in a majority of household budgets.

Survey highlights include:

  • 91% of consumers in the study own at least one credit card, while 51% of respondents primarily use debit on fuel purchases.
  • Top reasons for paying with a debit card include (1) "it's easy to use," (2) they receive a discount on gas with debit over credit and (3) "it's what I'm used to."
  • Top reasons for consumers to consider when switching their payment method at the pump are (1) cash-back rewards, (2) no interest rates or fees and (3) having a secure payment method.
Additionally, the survey notes that interchange fees, the rise of decoupled debit programs and consumers’ relationship with credit cards and debt all may factor into their primary choice of payment at the gas pump.