If like us, you rent a car to go around the island, there is one rather unpleasant thing you will do regularly: buy fuel.
There isn’thing very complicated but here are some points to know to make your stay easier.
What type of fuel?
In Iceland, there is petrol (SP 95) or diesel. I don’t think you have a choice when you rent your car, we came across a petrol car.
There is no risk of making a mistake, the type of fuel is very clearly specified on the tank door.
Gas stations in Iceland
N1, Olis, Orkan, OB, … There are several station networks in Iceland. The gas stations are of very variable size. Some are composed of only one pump, some are associated with real small stores / bar / grocery / restaurant. The funny thing is that you can find 2 or 3 different ones in very small towns of a few hundred inhabitants
In some cities, the gas station is a real small living space where people come to meet to chat, drink a drink, …
For tourists, it can be the occasion to warm up by drinking a coffee or eating something hot (the cheapest thing is hot dogs ^^) while enjoying free Wi-Fi.
You will find resorts all over Iceland, however, it can happen that you have to travel 100 km to reach the next one. So avoid being too short on fuel. As you have to return the rental car with a full tank anyway, we have got into the habit of refilling the tank every day. Like that, no risk to fall dry and moreover, psychologically it hurts less to make several small full tanks than only one big one ^^
How much does it cost?
It’s always too expensive of course…
The price in euro obviously varies according to the price of a barrel of oil and the evolution of exchange rates.
Today for example (April 2019), I paid for a liter of SP95 at 223kr, or 1.67 euro.
This must be 15 to 20 cents more than a liter in France.
Diesel is a cheaper cabbage.
What changes the most is that you will probably drive a lot more in Iceland than in normal times and that you may have a vehicle (4×4 or even camper) that consumes more fuel.
So it’s a real budget to plan, it stings.
This site makes it possible to see the current price of fuel in Iceland: http: //www.bensinverd.is/gsmbensin_web.php
Generally speaking, the more you are in a lost corner, the more it will cost, so take advantage of being in the “biggest” cities (on the Icelandic scale) to fill up your tank.
At the moment, we have the impression that Orkanstations are often the most attractively priced.
I also read that there can be a different price if you get served or if you serve yourself. I haven’t experienced this yet as I’ve only had self-service stations. This may be the case in the capital.
How do self-service stations work?
Most of the stations are self-service and operate with vending machines. It’s finally quite simple but not necessarily intuitive the first time, so it deserves an explanation.
When you park next to the gas pump, go to the terminal, you must prepay the fuel :
- Insert your credit card then remove it (before you have even entered your code, yes, it’s surprising)
- Choose the amount of fuel you want
- If required, enter the number of your pump if you are asked to do so
- Enter your card code
- You can use
The instructions can be put in English, which makes the operations easier.
Here are the different steps in picture
Once finished, if you want a receipt, just either select “receipt” or insert your credit card again, the receipt will print itself.
What happens if I prepaid more than I used?
It was a little bit our anguish of the first days since we prepaid more than we used 😀
Don’t worry, the system is well designed. You will first be debited for the prepayment amount and then you will be refunded for the overpayment.
On the other hand, it takes time, 48 hours in our case (with N1). So avoid overrunning too much so as not to have large sums of money blocked on your account.
Note that at Olis, we got a refund in just a few minutes.
It also seems indispensable to leave with a card with no exchange fees because you may pay a fee when you get a refund as well. In any case, the bank card in Iceland is better accepted than cash, so leave with a card that does not charge you exchange fees. There are very few petrol stations where you can pay other than by credit card.
An error to avoid: the “full tank” or “fill up”
The first time I withdrew gas, I wasn’t sure how much to prepay, so I selected the “full tank” option that was offered to me.
This option corresponds in fact to a prepayment of 18 000 isk or 134 euros which are blocked for 48 hours… not cool.
To avoid this, choose an amount yourself even if you have to do some mental arithmetic operations 😀
The option of the “prepaid card” N1
The N1 station network, the most widespread (and most expensive) in the country, offers prepaid cards.
You can buy these cards at N1 stations or in the supermarkets next to the petrol pumps. You have to choose a prepaid amount: 3000, 5000 or 10 000 ISK.
The advantage of this solution is that you no longer have to decide how much you want to prepay at each pump visit. You can fill up at your leisure, the exact amount consumed will be debited from your card.
This is also your only option if you want to pay for gas in cash.
Be careful however, you will not be able to get a refund if you have not consumed everything at the end of your stay.
Another small drawback, if you want to know how much is left on the card, you have to ask an employee, there is no other way.
The Olis / OB loyalty card
If you go to an Olis petrol station, ask for the loyalty card before filling up.
This card is free and offers you the following advantages:
- 3 ISK discount on every liter of petrol
- 10% discount at their restaurants
- Free coffee
It’s not Peru, but it’s always a big deal.
The card is valid for both Olis and OBstations.
In Olis stations, you can have two pumps: one Olis and one OB.
Small subtlety to know, the OB pump is self-service with pre-payment (remember to insert the discount card before your credit card to benefit from the discount). With the Olis pump, you help yourself and then pay at the counter.
Go figure, the OB pump is a little cheaper than the Olis pump 🙂
Where to wash your car?
We were able to wash our car in an Olis station. Good news: it’s free. You can use these water brushes and a vacuum cleaner. Very practical because one dirties very quickly his car in Iceland.