Save money on gas: quick tips to avoid price spikes at the pump
The increase in demand, seasonal needs and the war in ukraine have recently pushed gasoline prices to record highs. The US national average is now $4.25 a gallon, and California is the worst at $5.86, according to AAA.
Although you can’t control the price of oil, you don’t need to feel helpless in the face of soaring gas prices. There’s never been a better time to improve your fuel mileage or become a gas bargain hunter, and there are plenty of online sites and tools that can help.
Read on to learn more about ways to save money at the gas pump, including gas trackers, discounted and free gas cards, improving efficiency energy, rewards programs and club memberships.
To learn more, see CNET’s Best Gas Stationsthe best gas credit cards and the last on the US oil and gas ban from Russia.
Track your local gas prices and find the best station
Start with the most obvious tip for saving money on gas: find the cheapest gas in your area and buy it at that station. A handful of websites and apps already track gas prices for free.
GasBuddy is a well-known website for tracking gas prices in the United States and Canada. It also provides data for the US Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. gas tracking pages. The two sites share data but present the information in different ways – try them both to see which you prefer. GasBuddy is available on the web or via mobile apps for android and iOSeven if critics have raised concerns about its data tracking and privacy policies.
Disclaimer: Due to rapidly rising gas prices, GasBuddy has experienced a huge increase in web traffic. The service has been plagued with outages lately, often showing “Error 503 Backend fetch failed” messages because its server is overloaded.
The ubiquitous car insurance company Geico also offers a useful local gas station tracker. Enter an address, city, or zip code plus a maximum distance zone, and Geico will return a detailed list and map with regular, mid, and premium gas prices and directions to stations.
AAA provides a gas price tracker in its mobile app (android, iOS), as does GasBuddy competitor Gas Guru (android, iOS), but both services have recently come under fire from users for not keeping pace with the latest price increases.
You can also check gas prices in your neighborhood when using mobile navigation apps such as Waze or Google Maps. In Waze, tap the gas pump icon below the search bar to see current prices at nearby gas stations.
Similarly in Google Maps, just tap on the “Petrol” button below the search bar to view prices for all gas stations near you. Zoom out or scroll the map to find gas prices for a wider area. The Google Maps website also provides the same service through a browser.
Get money back with gas credit cards and gas rewards programs
If you spend between $60 and $75 each time you fill up on gas, there is an advantage to receiving a percentage of that money through gas stations or credit card reward programs. To verify CNET’s best gas credit cards to find one that will work for you.
Major gas stations also offer credit cards and rewards programs that promise to save you money with every fill-up by giving you a percentage back. For example, Quick Rewards offers a $25 gift card for 500 points, which equals 50 gallons of gas. At $4.25 a gallon, that’s nearly 12% back.
Shell and BP claim you’ll save at least 5 cents per gallon with their respective reward programs, and ExxonMobil says you will get at least 3 cents off. Be sure to review the terms of each program to see exactly what percentage of your gas spend will earn you.
Supermarket chains Safeway and Kroger also offer rewards programs that will save you money on gas. With both programs, for every $100 you spend on groceries, you’ll get 10 cents off gas the next time you fill up. Kroger works with Shell and Kroger fuel centers, while Safeway’s program works with Chevron, Texaco and Safeway stations.
Pay gasoline with cash instead of debit or credit
The practice of charging less for gas to cash customers varies from gas station to gas station, but it can be very common in some cities: in my area of Oakland, California, almost all gas stations charge 10 cents less to customers paying cash. In Los Angeles, several gas stations offer 20-cent discounts on gasoline, especially for premium ones.
That 10 or 20 cent difference can quickly add up. You’ll save $1.50 to $2 each time you completely fill a 15 gallon tank, or $72 to $144 per year at the average usage of 60 gallons per month. (Just watch those ATM fees: if you pay $2-3 to get your money each time, you’re losing money.)
Increase your energy efficiency
Another way to save money on gas is to make sure you’re maximizing the number of miles your vehicle travels per gallon. First, check your tires: the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that properly inflated tires can increase gas mileage by 3%. At today’s prices, this level of improved efficiency could save you nearly 13 cents per gallon.
Google Maps can also increase your miles per gallon by recommending certain routes that avoid hills and traffic, which ideally results in more consistent driving speeds. Fuel efficient routes are available on mobile android and iOS apps, although the feature has not yet rolled out to all users. To enable fuel efficiency in Google Maps – if you haven’t already – tap the three dots on the directions screen, then tap ‘Route options’ and enable the ‘Prefer efficient routes’ option in fuel”.
Other fuel tracking mobile apps like Fuelio and Jerrycan provide methods to improve your fuel efficiency as well as track gas prices at stations. JerryCan claims that drivers using its app can improve their fuel mileage by up to 20%, which equates to saving 87 cents per gallon at current prices.
Finally, hypermiling (the practice of wringing the maximum distance out of every gallon of gasoline) is no longer relegated to fringe hobbyists. CNET Brian Cooley explains how regular drivers can adapt extreme hypermiling techniques to increase their own fuel efficiency.
Try a club membership for discounted gas prices
Costco, sam’s club and WalmartMore all offer reduced gas prices to their members. Walmart+ promises 5 cents less at its refueling centers, as well as access to all Sam’s Club locations. Walmart Plus subscriptions cost $13 per month or $98 per year. Sam’s Club memberships range from $45 to $100 per year.
Conventional wisdom holds that Costco gas typically costs about 20 cents less than local gas prices. On March 9, TheStreet reported that the average gas price at Costco was $3.69 a gallon, 56 cents lower than the national average that day. Costco memberships cost between $60 and $120 per year.
Disclaimer: Due to the recent price spike, gas lines at Costco became notoriously long.
Buy discount gas cards from resellers
Gift cards are a popular choice for easy giveaways, but as you’d expect, not all of those gift cards get redeemed. A variety of resellers allow consumers to hoard their unused gift cards or buy them at low prices.
raise and Granny Gift Voucher are two sites that allow users to buy and sell unused gift cards from Chevon, Texaco, Shell, BP and other gas providers. As you might guess, most discount gas gift cards are sold out right now, but you can set up alerts for when new ones arrive.
Be sure to check the actual price discount and other specifics of any card – both sites also sell gift cards at retail rates, and Gift Card Granny also sells reward cards.
Bicycles, public transport and electric vehicles can end the addiction to gasoline
Soaring gasoline prices offer a timely opportunity to wean yourself off gasoline-based transportation, if you have other alternatives. Cycling or using public transport more often will obviously help reduce your gas costs.
Similarly, acquiring an electric vehicle will certainly reduce your gas consumption. It’s not just Tesla – Hyundai, Ford, Porsche, Audi and many other automakers are now offering electric cars. Bonus: you’ll fight pollution and climate change while saving money. To verify CNET Roadshow’s list of the best electric vehicles to learn more about the latest and greatest electric cars.
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