The word "premium" suggests high quality, the best of the best. But what is commonly called "premium gasoline" is a waste of money for countless drivers.

Thanks in part to the coronavirus, gas prices have been relatively low compared with the soaring ones seen roughly a decade ago.

At the same time, U.S. drivers are paying more for premium gasoline, relative to the regular stuff, than they have in the past. 

"It used to be 15 cents in some areas of California more for premium than regular," said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at Gas Buddy, a company that tracks pump prices around the country. "It's gone up now, [in] some cases 20 to 30 cents."

What DeHaan calls the "grade gap" between premium and regular has widened in the last decade and now averages 50 cents to 60 cents per gallon in many parts of the country.

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