A gas price display is changed at a Chevron gasoline to display a record high.
A gas price display is changed at a Chevron gasoline to display a record high. - 
Listen To The Story
Marketplace

TEXT OF STORY

Bob Moon: Oil prices are now the lowest they've been in almost two months -- down to $123 a barrel. That should lead to cheaper gas, but it's not the only thing that may be pushing down prices for some of us.

A Massachusetts lawmaker is pushing to make gas cheaper if you pay with cash. A new state bill there would allow gas stations to offer cash discounts. If drivers pay with greenbacks, they could save about seven cents on each gallon of gas. Marketplace's Jeff Tyler reports.


Jeff Tyler: Despite boom times for the big oil companies, gas stations are squeezing by on slim profit margins. And they're even thinner if a credit card is used.

Brandon Wright is with the Petroleum Marketers' Association, which represents independent gas stations.

Brandon Wright When you pay at the pump, roughly 2 to 3 percent of that transaction gets remitted back to the credit card companies. That really eats into their profits.

Many companies prohibit their franchise gas stations from charging less for cash purchases. The Massachusetts legislation would give retailers that option.

I asked Dave Eagle, who owns two gas stations near Boston: Would he offer cash discounts?

Dave Eagle: Oh, I think we might. Especially if people request it. You certainly don't want to lose business.

The Massachusetts bill has precedent. Connecticut has enacted a similar law. The real fight is against the clock. The legislature's formal session ends in a week.

I'm Jeff Tyler for Marketplace.

“I think the best compliment I can give is not to say how much your programs have taught me (a ton), but how much Marketplace has motivated me to go out and teach myself.” – Michael in Arlington, VA

As a nonprofit news organization, what matters to us is the same thing that matters to you: being a source for trustworthy, independent news that makes people smarter about business and the economy. So if Marketplace has helped you understand the economy better, make more informed financial decisions or just encouraged you to think differently, we’re asking you to give a little something back.

Become a Marketplace Investor today – in whatever amount is right for you – and keep public service journalism strong. We’re grateful for your support.

Follow Jeff Tyler at @JeffMarketplace