Credit Gas Price Must be Posted on Signs, County Says

Montgomery County, Maryland, approved law based on most common form of payment at the pump
Mobil gas price sign
Photograph: Shutterstock

While the state of Maryland is considering legislation to require gas stations to post the credit or debit price of gas per gallon, Montgomery County officials in the same state weren’t willing to wait for the state to act.

The county council Tuesday approved a Consumer Protection Gasoline Station Signage law requiring stations in the county to post the credit price of regular gasoline, instead of the cash price, which typically is the lowest. State law requires stations to post readable signs with the lowest unit price charged for gasoline.

In passing the local bill, the county council said most drivers use plastic when purchasing gas, making it somewhat deceptive to post only the cash price, even though state law allows this.

The local law takes effect in six months, though gas stations will be allowed to post a separate sign showing the credit price for a seven-year period instead of being forced to redo existing signs. The county cited a 2019 AAA Mid Atlantic study showing about 90% of Maryland residents use a credit card or debit card to purchase gas at self-serve pumps. With inflation and higher gas prices, even fewer people are using cash, the county said. Consumers often make last-minute purchase decisions when buying gas, GasBuddy said, so accurate pricing on signs is important. While gas prices have come down from peaks in 2022, oil companies like Shell reported higher profits in the fourth quarter from the year-ago period.

On the state level in Maryland, the Senate Finance Committee is considering Senate Bill 178, which would require gas stations post the credit and debit price along with the cash price for gas.

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