Twelve Ways to Save on Gas
Gas prices have been rising constantly for months now, for a variety of reasons. For one, the pandemic has led to major supply issues in many parts of the economy. Gas prices have suffered from almost a 50% increase in the past year. Additionally, the recent war between Russia and Ukraine has sent oil prices up, with gas prices following. Below are twelve tips on how you can improve your fuel economy, and save more money overall.
- Use gas finding apps to discover the lowest gas prices
Apps can be very useful in navigating the surges in gas pricing. Companies such as Waze, GasBuddy, and Upside provide services to find the lowest fuel rates near you. To use them, simply input your city, state, or desired brand, and allow their results to lead you to savings.
- Use specific credit cards to earn cash back or pay less on gas
Certain credit cards can offer between 3% and 5% savings on gas purchases, and potentially save you hundreds of dollars each year. Overall, the USAA Cashback Rewards Plus American Express Card is reputed to have the best rates on gas savings, offering 5% cash back on the first $3,000 spent on gas as well as military purchases each year.
The PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card is another good option, and is also from a credit union. With it, you earn 5x points for all gas purchases at a pump. A third option is the Citi Premier Card, offering 3 points for each dollar spent at a gas station. These are some of the best cards for optimal savings on fuel spending.
- Join a grocery store rewards program
Rewards programs can offer significant discounts on gas prices, as well as additional benefits at the grocery store they are issued at. On their website, Costco states that "You’ll get 4% back on eligible gasoline purchases for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter. You’ll also earn 3% on restaurants and eligible travel purchases, including Costco Travel. Get 2% back on all eligible purchases from Costco and Costco.com and 1% on all other purchases."
Another company that offers similar benefits is Sam's Club, through their Sam's Cash program. This allows you to "Earn 5% back in Sam’s Cash™† on gas (first $6,000/year), 3% at Sam’s Club for Plus members, 3% on dining and 1% on other purchases." Finally, Safeway's For U program provides members with rewards points equivalent to 10 cents off each gallon at participating gas stations. Further details are available at the websites of these companies!
Always look for grocery coupons.
- Choose wisely between paying with cash or card
Gas stations are known to offer different rates based on whether payment is via cash or credit card, and cash prices are often lower. Therefore, paying with cash or a debit card can be a helpful option when trying to save money on gas. However, some pumps do not accept cash, which can be inconvenient. Also, debit cards can transfer personal information to data thieves, risking security. Credit cards involve more protection against identity theft or breach, but can allow for interest charges in the event that a user does not pay off their bills in a timely manner.
- Select a specific day to fill up on gas
Gas prices can actually differ depending on which day of the week it is! According to a study by GasBuddy, Mondays seem to be the most promising day to fill up on gas. Doing so helps avoid the weekend rush to fill your tank for trips or errands. Tuesdays are also more efficient for the same reason. Wednesdays and Thursdays show a little less efficiency, but offer good opportunities to top up on gas before the weekend.
- Plan routes efficiently
Cutting down on time spent driving and overall mileage is a key way to reduce the amount spent on gas. To maximize efficiency, consider planning out routes and running errands that are nearby to each other in one trip. You could also remove the need for your car entirely by carpooling or sharing rides with coworkers, friends, or family. Methods of transportation such as trains, buses, or bikes are another possible option for fuel-efficient commute.
- Slow down
All drivers should be watching their speed while on the road, as it is a key safety practice to ensure the well-being of drivers and pedestrians alike. But did you know that reducing speed can also save money on gas? Excessive speed while driving increases the wind resistance you face, which leads to higher fuel consumption. According to the North Carolina Consumers Council, "for every 1mph over 55mph you drive, you can expect to lose between 1% and 2% of your fuel economy." Keeping an eye on the speedometer can help save you valuable money on gas.
- Lighten your car's load
A heavier car will be more inefficient in terms of fuel consumption, whereas a lighter vehicle has improved gas mileage. Removing any items that aren't in use like sports equipment from your trunk and bike or ski racks from the exterior of your car will reduce overall weight as well as wind resistance, saving money going towards fuel.
- Maintain your car well
Regular vehicle maintenance can be key in saving money when it comes to fuel consumption! For example, tire pressure has a direct link on how much money you spend when it comes to gas. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, "underinflated tires can lower your gas mileage and cause you to lose about 3 cents per gallon." Another area to check out is the gas cap, as malfunctions there can allow for gas to evaporate directly from the tank. Engine maintenance is known to have an impact on fuel economy with an average of 4%. Ensuring you use the correct motor oil and fuel for your car is a simple day to save between 4 and 7 cents per gallon.
- Reduce AC and heat use
Excessive use of both air conditioning and heating negatively impacts your fuel economy, so being cognizant of your usage is valuable. As for alternatives, leaving windows open can also help cool down your car, but can increase wind resistance, sparking disagreement as to which method is more efficient. The general consensus is that using windows for cooling effects works better at low speeds, but as you speed up air conditioning may be a better option for fuel optimization.
- Gas station programs
Sometimes, you have to look no further than your own gas station to find savings! With Shell's Fuel Rewards program, customers with the Instant Gold Status save 5 cents per gallon on each fill-up at participating Shell locations. Also, Casey's offers savings of up to 6 cents per gallon of gas. Getting involved with rewards programs at these gas stations will have you on the way to savings with each fuel purchase.
- Use cruise control
Using cruise control wisely can help boost your fuel economy. A study by Natural Resources Canada demonstrated that "varying your speed up and down between 75 and 85 km per hour every 18 seconds can increase your fuel use by 20%." To avoid this fluctuation, you can activate cruise control and save anywhere from 7 to 14% on gas, according to KIA.
While gas prices increasing can have quite an impact on day-to-day life and spendings, these twelve ideas are simple ways to minimize your gas consumption and improve fuel economy! From new cards and memberships to utilizing existing features in your car wisely, keep these tips in mind for your next trip.