Inside a convenience store at a gas station

24 Things You Never Want To Buy at a Gas Station

Gas stations are essential stops for motorists seeking fuel and convenience on the road. However, while they offer a wide array of goods and services, not everything sold at gas stations is worth your money. From overpriced snacks to low-quality electronics, there are several items that savvy consumers should avoid purchasing at these roadside stops. 

Medication

medication
Image Credit: Sergii Sobolevskyi/Shutterstock.

While convenient, purchasing medication at a gas station comes with a price premium. Gas station pharmacies typically charge higher prices for over-the-counter medications compared to drugstores or supermarkets. Additionally, the selection may be limited, making it challenging to find specific medications or brands. For optimal value and variety, it’s best to purchase medications from reputable pharmacies where prices are competitive and the product quality is assured.

Electronics

USB
Image Credit: Matthius/WikiCommons.

Gas stations often stock cheap electronic gadgets near the checkout counter, tempting travelers with their convenience. However, these electronics may sacrifice quality and reliability for their affordability. From USB chargers to earbuds, these gadgets may not perform as well or last as long as their counterparts from reputable electronics retailers. For important electronics purchases, it’s advisable to seek out established brands known for their quality and durability.

Energy Drinks

RedBull
Image Credit: monticello/ Shutterstock.

While energy drinks offer a quick pick-me-up during long drives, purchasing them at gas stations can be costly. These beverages are often marked up significantly compared to prices at grocery stores or bulk retailers. Furthermore, many energy drinks contain high levels of sugar and caffeine, which may not be suitable for everyone. For a more budget-friendly and health-conscious option, consider bringing your own beverages or opting for alternatives like water or herbal tea.

Lottery Tickets

A young woman holds the lottery ticket with complete row of numbers and dollar bills on the lottery blank sheets background. Lottery winner concept
Image Credit: Mehaniq/Shutterstock.

While purchasing a lottery ticket at a gas station may seem like a harmless indulgence, the odds of winning big are slim, and the costs can add up over time. Gas station lottery tickets are often impulse purchases, and frequent spending on them can drain your finances without yielding substantial returns. If you enjoy playing the lottery, consider budgeting a specific amount for tickets each month and purchasing them strategically from authorized retailers.

Batteries

A close-up of a pile of different used batteries
Image Credit: Sebastian_Photography/ Shutterstock.

Gas stations often sell batteries for common household items like remote controls and flashlights. However, these batteries are typically marked up in price and may not offer the best value or quality. While convenient in a pinch, it’s advisable to purchase batteries in bulk from wholesale clubs or online retailers where prices are lower, and the selection is more extensive. Investing in rechargeable batteries can also save money and reduce waste in the long run.

Coffee

White paper coffee Cup with red lid on car roof. Paper Cup with hot tea on the roof of the SUV close up on the background of the windshield
Image Credit: Aleksey Korchemkin/Shutterstock.

Gas station coffee may offer convenience for weary travelers, but the quality and freshness can vary widely. While some gas stations boast branded coffee chains or specialty brews, others serve generic or stale coffee that fails to satisfy discerning taste buds. For coffee aficionados seeking a superior caffeine fix, it’s worth seeking out dedicated coffee shops or cafes where the beans are freshly roasted, and the brewing methods are carefully curated.

Car Accessories

Aroma air freshener with flying fresh lilac flowers in car salon
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Gas stations often stock a variety of car accessories, ranging from air fresheners to windshield wipers. While convenient for travelers in need of a quick fix, these accessories are typically priced higher than similar items found at automotive retailers or department stores. Whether you’re in search of a dashboard mount for your smartphone or a new set of floor mats, shopping around at dedicated automotive stores can save you money without sacrificing quality or selection.

Phone Chargers

The driver at the wheel of the car turns on the music from the phone
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Gas stations frequently sell phone chargers and other electronic accessories near the checkout counter. While convenient for travelers in need of a quick replacement, these chargers may be of inferior quality and pose safety risks. Cheap chargers can damage your device’s battery or even cause electrical hazards like overheating or short circuits. To ensure compatibility and safety, it’s best to purchase phone chargers from reputable electronics retailers or directly from the device manufacturer.

Sunglasses

Sunglasses
Image Credit: Matti Blume/WikiCommons.

While gas station sunglasses may offer convenience, they often sacrifice quality and protection. These sunglasses may lack proper UV protection, posing risks to eye health despite their tinted lenses. For optimal eye protection and durability, it’s advisable to invest in sunglasses from reputable brands or retailers specializing in eyewear.

Alcoholic Beverages

POZNAN, POL - NOV 22, 2019: Bottles of Bud Light beer, an American light beer, produced by Anheuser-Busch, introduced in 1982.
Image Credit: monticello/ Shutterstock.

While gas stations may stock a selection of beer and wine, the prices are typically higher than those found at dedicated liquor stores or supermarkets. This markup is due to convenience, as gas stations cater to travelers looking for quick refreshments. To save money on alcoholic beverages, it’s best to purchase them in advance from liquor stores or plan ahead for your outing.

Perishable Foods

Gas Station Food / Sandwich
Image Credit: Famartin/WikiCommons.

Gas station food items like sandwiches and salads may be convenient for travelers on the go, but they often lack freshness and quality. These perishable foods may have been sitting out for extended periods, increasing the risk of spoilage and foodborne illness. For safe and satisfying snacks, it’s recommended to patronize reputable food establishments or pack your own perishable items for the journey.

Ice Cream

Crumbled and torn paper litter from a Snickers Ice Cream bar thrown on wooden floor.
Image Credit: oleschwander/ Shutterstock.

While gas station freezers may offer tempting treats like ice cream, the inconsistent temperatures can lead to freezer burn and compromised quality. These frozen desserts may not maintain their texture and flavor due to temperature fluctuations, detracting from the enjoyment of the treat. To ensure a satisfying ice cream experience, it’s best to purchase frozen desserts from grocery stores or ice cream parlors with proper storage facilities.

Toiletries

Green bottles of Garnier Fructis shampoo and conditioners on department store shelf.
Image Credit: ZikG/ Shutterstock.

Gas station toiletries like toothpaste and shampoo are often priced higher than those found at supermarkets or pharmacies. This markup reflects the convenience factor, as travelers may need to purchase these items in a pinch. However, for cost-effective and varied options, it’s advisable to shop for toiletries at dedicated retailers where prices are competitive, and the selection is extensive.

Tobacco Products

Cigarette
Image Credit: Tomasz Sienicki/WikiCommons.

Cigarettes and tobacco products sold at gas stations are subject to high taxes, resulting in inflated prices compared to those found at other retailers. Smokers may find themselves paying a premium for convenience when purchasing these items at gas stations. To save money on tobacco products, it’s advisable to explore alternative purchasing options or consider smoking cessation programs.

Car Care Products

Variety of car cleaning and care products
Image Credit: Pittigrilli/WikiCommons.

While gas stations may offer a selection of car wash supplies and detailing products, these items are often priced higher than those found at dedicated auto supply stores. The convenience of purchasing these products on the go comes at a cost, with gas station prices reflecting the added convenience factor. For cost-effective car care solutions, it’s recommended to shop at specialized auto supply stores or online retailers.

Water Bottles

Water Bottles
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Single-use water bottles sold at gas stations are typically priced higher than those purchased in bulk at supermarkets. This price disparity is due to convenience, as travelers may opt for the convenience of purchasing a single bottle on the go. However, for budget-conscious consumers, it’s more economical to buy water bottles in bulk or invest in a reusable water bottle for long-term savings.

Magazines and Newspapers

 A view of shelves with a variety of magazines, seen at a local grocery store.
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Gas stations may offer convenience for purchasing magazines and newspapers on the go, but the prices are often higher than those found at grocery stores or through digital subscriptions. Shoppers looking to save on reading materials can opt for discounted subscriptions or visit supermarkets where print publications are typically priced lower.

Prepaid Debit Cards

Two Vanilla gift cards isolated against dark background.
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Gas stations may sell prepaid debit cards for added convenience, but these cards often come with higher fees compared to those available from banks or online retailers. Consumers should be mindful of the fees associated with prepaid cards and explore alternative options to minimize costs.

Fast Food

Closeup of Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese in a cardboard box from McDonalds fast food restaurant.
Image Credit: ZikG/ Shutterstock.

Gas stations often offer fast food options for travelers in need of a quick meal, but the quality and freshness of these offerings may be compromised compared to food from restaurants or grocery stores. Health-conscious consumers may prefer to opt for fresh, healthier options available from restaurants or grocery stores rather than gas station fast food.

Propane Tanks

Propane Tanks
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While gas stations may offer propane tank refills for convenience, the prices are often higher than those found at hardware stores or specialty propane retailers. Consumers looking to save on propane refills should consider purchasing from retailers specializing in propane products, where prices may be more competitive.

Automotive Fluids

Male employee is adding diesel fuel additive to diesel tank. Increase combustion effciency.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Gas stations may stock automotive fluids like oil, but these products may be overpriced and of lower quality compared to those available from auto parts stores. Shoppers in need of automotive fluids should opt for reputable brands from auto parts stores, where quality and pricing are more favorable.

Stamps

Book of First Class U.S. Flag forever stamps. Hand holding postage for mailing a letter via the United States Postal Service.
Image credit: The Toidi/ Shutterstock.

Gas station convenience stores may sell stamps for added convenience, but the prices are often higher than those found at post offices or online retailers. Consumers looking to save on postage should purchase stamps directly from post offices or explore online retailers where prices may be more competitive.

Travel Snacks

Inside a convenience store at a gas station

Gas stations may offer a variety of travel snacks like trail mix and protein bars, but these items are often marked up compared to those found at grocery stores. Travelers looking to save on snacks should purchase them from grocery stores, where prices are typically lower and the selection is more extensive.

Author: Madison Cates

Title: Managing Editor

Bio:

Research journalist, Freelance writer, Managing editor

  • Expertise: automotive content, trending topics.
  • Education: LeTourneau University, Bachelors of Science in Business Administration.
  • Over 400 articles and short news pieces published across the web.

Experience: Madison Cates is a journalist located in the great state of Texas. She began writing over eight years ago. Her first major research piece was published by the Journal of Business and Economics in 2018. After growing up in a household of eight brothers and a dad who was always restoring old Camaros, she naturally pivoted her freelance career into the automotive industry. There, she found her passion. Her experience paved the way for her to work with multiple large corporations in automotive news and trending topics. Now, she now finds her home at Wealth of Geeks where she proudly serves as Managing Editor of Autos. Madison is always down to geek out over the latest beautiful cars on the market, and she enjoys providing her readers with tips to make car ownership easier and more enjoyable.

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