Aug 15, 2022 - News

Greed or need: Why gas is cheaper in some parts of metro Phoenix?

Illustration of a car gas gauge, with a neutral emoji on the left and a swearing emoji on the right, and the needle reaching the swearing side.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Gas prices are starting to come down across the Valley (thank goodness), but some stations are markedly less expensive than others.

What's happening: Last week, I saw the QuikTrip at University Drive and Extension Road in Mesa charging just $3.90 per gallon.

  • I drove 2.5 miles north and saw another QT charging $4.50. The Mobil across the street on McKellips Road and Country Club Drive was charging $5.25. What gives?

State of play: According to the National Association of Convenience Stores, gas stations, even those within a few miles of each other, often have different wholesale costs.

  • Larger stations may be able to buy in bulk, bringing down their cost per gallon.
  • Some stations are on more expensive corners than others, so they make up their real estate costs with higher gas prices.
  • Stations may also carry different brands. Fuel that carries the name of a major refinery tends to cost more.

Yes, but: Sometimes, pricing is purely a business strategy.

  • For instance, if a station is near the airport, right off a highway or in an otherwise convenient area, the prices will likely be higher because the owners know you're going to pay it.

Tips and tricks: GasBuddy is a popular website that shows the lowest gas prices in each ZIP code.

  • After listening to radio ads about Upside for years, I finally downloaded it, and now I love it because it shows me gas prices near me and offers cash back at many stations.
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