At these prices, the savings add up!
With gas prices rising above $5 a gallon, more drivers are looking for ways to save at the pump. The average American driver spends nearly $3,000 every year on fuel expenses. These 5 tips can save you big time when you fill up.
Use These Apps to Find the Cheapest Gas
Driving around town looking for the cheapest gas comes with a caveat: you’re burning more fuel by looking for a deal! Nowadays, several popular apps help drivers find the lowest gas prices. These are the best cheap gas apps today:
GasBuddy has been around for 20 years, and is the most well-known of the cheap gas apps. GasBuddy crowdsources gas prices from users who report what they find. This works great in high-traffic areas, but less-frequented rural gas stations suffer from underreporting, and therefore out-dated prices on the app.
In addition to simply showing users where the lowest gas prices are in their vicinity, GasBuddy also offers a payment card that includes discounts of up to 25 cents per gallon. Taking it a step further, GasBuddy Premium guarantees a 20 cent to 40 cent per gallon discount on fuel with the $9.99/month Premium plan (or $99 annually). The catch? There’s a limit of 50 gallons per month. That’s enough for most drivers.
At CarEdge, we’re all about transparency in the automotive world. Fuelio brings transparency to the true cost of ownership for your vehicle. Fuelio does a lot more than help you find cheaper gas. This free app also tracks your fill-ups, fuel economy, mileage and more. Costs associated with car maintenance, tolls and parking fees are all tracked within the app. Fuelio is great for drivers who love keeping track of their expenses all in one place. You’ll get a better idea of the true cost of vehicle ownership.
Cash back for gas?! Keep your receipts! Upside helps you save up to 25 cents a gallon when you take a photo of your gas station receipt and submit it through the app. Great news for the data cautious: no need to share your bank or card information.
Upside does also offer the option to ‘check in’ and pay for fuel with a saved card, but it’s not required to get the cash back. You can choose to receive your cash back through PayPal, a digital gift card, or even an old-fashioned paper check.
Don’t Buy Gas Along the Interstate
Using the cheap gas apps, we can see a clear trend: gas is often more expensive along major highways. Why? Consumers pay for convenience. A quick look at GasBuddy’s gas price map shows that prices per gallon of gas are often 10 cents to 20 cents cheaper just a half mile away from stations along major highways.
Is it worth it to drive a mile further for cheaper gas? Consider this. America’s best-selling vehicle, the Ford F-150, has a 23 gallon tank. Let’s say our driver isn’t quite running on fumes, but it’s time to refuel. Exiting off the highway, gas prices at the truck stop are $4.69 a gallon. A mile into town, gas is $4.45 a gallon. After diverting into town for the cheaper gas, the truck is filled up with 20 gallons of gasoline. The 24 cent difference between the stations resulted in $4.80 saved in one fill-up. That’s almost enough to cover lunch!
See price differences where you’re headed here.
Interstate Travel: Buy Gas in States with Lower Gas Taxes
It’s amazing how much state gas taxes vary from one state to another. It’s not uncommon for gas prices to be 30 cents higher per gallon across a state line. Know which states along your travel route have the cheapest gas, and fill up before exiting those low-tax states.
States with the highest gas taxes
New Jersey ($0.414)
New York ($0.4045)
States with the lowest gas taxes
What do state gas taxes mean for your wallet? If a driver heading north on I-79 fills up in West Virginia, gas prices are 30 cents to 50 cents cheaper per gallon than what they’ll find across the border in Pennsylvania. That adds up quickly!
Make Credit Cards Work For You
Do you have a 2% cash back credit card? Or better yet, do you have a card that offers more cash back on select categories? It’s worth looking into. There are several credit cards that offer 3% cash back on fuel expenses. The average American driver spends nearly $3,000 on fuel every year. At that rate, 3% cash back means $90 back in your pocket every year. The magnitude of cash back rewards for fuel purchases only increases as gas prices increase.
Use Grocery Store Fuel Rewards
I doubt anyone enjoys digging through their wallet or purse for each and every supermarket’s rewards card. With gas prices at record highs, it’s worth the hassle. Not only do grocery rewards cards save you money on your grocery bill, they often save at the gas pump.
Kroger Fuel Rewards
With Kroger Fuel Rewards, you can earn generous fuel points with every grocery purchase at the Kroger family of grocery stores. Get 1 fuel reward point for every dollar spent. Earn double points when you purchase gift cards. When you have accumulated 100 points, you earn $0.10 off a gallon of gas.
Costco Fuel Discount and Cash Back
With 574 Costco warehouse stores in America, cheaper gas might be just around the corner. Costco’s gas prices are typically between 10 cents and 30 cents cheaper than surrounding gas stations. To gain access to Costco’s famously low gas prices, you’ll have to be a Costco member. An annual membership fee of $60 can easily be paid back with fuel savings.
Citi partnered with Costco to offer the Costco Anywhere Visa card that gives you 4% cash back on gas up to $7,000 per year. That’s one of the best credit card fuel rewards out there. Learn more about Costco’s Kirkland Signature fuel rewards here.
Sam’s Club Fuel Discount
Sam’s Club’s 600 store locations are renowned for their cheap gas prices. Sam’s Club is the WalMart family’s warehouse store that is accessible by membership. For the penny-pinchers, Sam’s Club memberships start at $45. In just a few months of gas fill-ups, you could recover your membership fee in savings.
Dozens of other supermarkets and gas stations offer rewards programs, and many of them are free to join. Check with your neighborhood grocery store to see if they have a program that will help you save on gas.
Bonus: Drive More Efficiently
Even if you’re stuck with a gas-guzzler, driving habits have a huge effect on fuel economy. The difference between getting 15 miles per gallon and 20 miles per gallon equals over $1,000 in annual fuel savings at today’s prices.
The following adjustments to your driving behaviors can save you A LOT of money:
- Drive 5 miles per hour slower on the highway. All vehicles get much worse fuel economy at speeds over 70 mph. 80 mph driving results in poor, costly gas mileage.
- Don’t be heavy-footed! Practice gentle acceleration. There’s no need to slam the pedal if there’s a stoplight just ahead. It’s costing you.
- Take the most efficient route when navigating. Google Maps now displays which route option will result in the best fuel economy.
- Ensure your tires are properly inflated. Deflated tires have higher rolling resistance, meaning that more fuel is needed to propel the vehicle forward.
Will Gas Prices Go Down in 2022?
Right now, gas prices continue to climb to new records. However, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts a slight decrease in gas prices in the latter half of this year. By the third quarter of 2022, EIA predicts that retail gasoline prices will average $4.27/gal. As of this writing, the national average sits at $4.92.
Wall Street bankers at Goldman Sachs predict that gas prices will rise until they reach a yet-uncertain point that incentivizes more oil production, and/or keeps more drivers off of the road. Goldman Sachs predicts that Brent crude oil prices will average $140 a barrel between July and September. Brent is currently trading between $115 and $125 a barrel.
We can only hope for the best. Interest in electric vehicles continues to rise, and electrified cars are taking more and more market share. However, supply shortages are holding back new car inventory, EVs remain expensive, and charging infrastructure has yet to meet the needs of all Americans. The latest data shows that driving has decreased by 3% since this time last year. If you’re looking for ways to save money on gas, clearly less driving is the most immediate cost-cutting measure.
What did we miss? If you have other tips for how to save money on gas, let us know in the comments below, or reach out to me at justin@CarEdge.com.