What is Half-Pricing?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 26 February 2020
  • Copyright Protected:
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Not all gas stations, or gas pumps for that matter, are created equal. The ultra modern gas station has digital numbers, which can accommodate the higher prices of gas many are paying at the pump. Outdated gas pumps were designed with specific numbers, and were never designed for current gas prices. They were only capable of showing a total price of a gallon of gas at $3.99 US Dollars (USD). When owners of outdated pumps saw gas prices rise above $4 USD, they had a problem: how could they adequately charge their customers?

The solution to this problem is actually fairly easy. Gas station owners with older pumps are now using a technique called half-pricing to calculate total gas. Instead of the pump showing the full amount of gasoline, the gas is calculated on its half worth. Thus a $4.50 USD gallon of gas would appear to be priced at $2.25 USD. When the customer pays for half-pricing of gas, though, he or she pays double the amount shown on the final price.


At first, the half-pricing technique was not fully understood by consumers, creating some problems when people paid for their gas. Some thought they’d just encountered the best deals in the world on gas. Now, half-pricing is becoming very familiar, and if you encounter a station with older pumps and gas prices that seem unbelievably low, you’ve likely run across a half-pricing station. To make this clear for customers, owners often have signs on pumps and pay stations so there is no misunderstanding on total charges.

Of course, half-pricing will only work provided gasoline costs no more than $7.98 USD per gallon. If prices of gasoline rise above this amount, owners might have to resort to quarter pricing. The demand for new pumps that will allow higher price per gallon readings is fairly high at the moment, and it can be expensive to replace older pumps with digital ones. Most consumers hope not to see gas prices rise to this level, although there are certainly parts of the world, particularly Europe, where prices are close to or above about $8 USD per gallon (3.785 liters).

For now, half-pricing at the pump provides a temporary measure which means old stations don’t have to replace older pumps. Customers should be aware of it, so they don’t do a double take at the pumps when they see the price of gas, or get insulted when they’re charged double the amount. As long as gas prices exceed $3.99 USD per gallon, half-pricing is expected to remain a common practice.



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