5 ways to slash the cost of gas

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Four Ways to Cut Gas Costs

Not so long ago, gas prices were soaring into the stratosphere. But what a difference a little time can make.

Summer gas prices have hovered around their lowest levels in a dozen years. As we reported last month:

It's been eight years since Americans were coughing up $4.11 a gallon to fill up their gas tank. Fast forward to today and we're paying about $2.17 per gallon for unleaded gasoline — the cheapest summer gas prices we've had since 2004.

Still, cheaper gas does not necessarily mean the fuel is "inexpensive." Many Americans still spend thousands of dollars on gas annually.

So, even small savings can be a real boon for your budget.

With that in mind, we present five great ways to save money on gas every time you pull up to the pump.

1. Use a smartphone app

Technology has been a benefit to frugal folks everywhere. Finding the best deal on clothing, restaurants and grocery items has never been easier. Your smartphone also can help you find the best deal on gas.

For example, GasBuddy.com can help you uncover the lowest price in your area. And such savings can be large. Recently, I searched in the area near my Colorado home and found that the lowest available price in my region — $1.83 a gallon — was 19 cents lower than the average price around town.

Load the GasBuddy app to your phone and you'll have no problem pinpointing the best deal when you're driving around. Other similar apps include:

2. Join a warehouse club

Warehouse clubs such as Costco, BJs and Sam's Club all sell gas to members, and it is often — though not always — among the lowest-priced in town. This option especially makes sense for shoppers (like me!) who know they will visit their warehouse club at least once weekly.

Sign up for the free Money Talks Newsletter

As Trent Hamm of TheSimpleDollar.com wrote last year:

I tend to fill up at my local Sam's Club about once a month, putting about 12 gallons of gas into my car. Each gallon at Sam's Club is about $0.07 cheaper than at other nearby gas stations, so I save about $0.84 per visit on gas, which adds up to about $10 per year. That means I only need to come up with about $30 in savings over the rest of the year to make up for that $40 membership.

Here are some tips on how to save money on a road trip:

How to save money on a road trip
See Gallery
How to save money on a road trip

1. Calculate your expected fuel cost before your trip. It’s always wise to get an accurate estimation of how much to budget for gas beforehand. GasBuddy's fuel calculator is an excellent tool to get an expected price point. Just enter your vehicle information, startpoint and endpoint, and the app will calculate how much you’ll spend.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

2. Don’t fuel up near popular areas. You’ll find inflated gas prices near popular tourist destinations and metropolitan areas, so it’s worth venturing to the town over for more affordable prices. For example, gas costs on the scenic Pacific Coast Highway in California are considerably higher than the stations a few miles off the main highway.

Photo credit: Getty

3. Fill up your tank at truck stops. You'll often find the cheapest gas prices here. 

Photo credit: Getty

4. Download gas apps. Apps like GasBuddy and GasGuru come in handy by computing the cheapest station in relation to your current location.

Photo credit: Getty

5. Drive efficiently to save gas costs. These 5 fuel-efficient tips are proven to maintain a full tank longer:

           1. Turn off your AC

2. Engage cruise control in low-traffic areas

3. Avoid rapid acceleration and braking

4. Inflate tires close to maximum

5. Avoid speeding

Photo credit: Getty

6. Travel with friends. Traveling with a few buddies is an efficient (and fun) way to save cash by splitting the cost of a tank.

Photo credit: Getty

7. Grocery shop in advance. Pack water and snacks beforehand in a cooler -- inflated convenience store prices will eat away at your budget.

Photo credit: Getty

8. Bring reusable water bottles. Filling up a water bottle is cheaper than buying a Poland Spring at every stop.

Photo credit: Getty

9. Buy fountain drinks over bottled drinks. If you’re craving a Mountain Dew, fountain drinks give you a better bang for your buck over bottled soda.

Photo credit: Getty

Use Yelp: Download Yelp on your phone to see the best restaurant offers in your area.

Photo credit: AOL

11. Take advantage of restaurant deals. Chances are there will be tons of chain restaurants along the way, so use sites like Groupon and GiftCardGranny to get a deal on the road.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

12. Load up on free coffee and breakfast from hotels for the road. Take advantage of a free meal and avoid Starbucks and other expensive coffee shops.

Photo credit: Getty

13. Avoid staying in popular areas. Tourist-driven and metropolitan areas are often paired with inflated prices, so find a place to sleep in surrounding towns.

Photo credit: Getty

14. Check out sites like Airbnb, Tripadvisor, and Kayak to score the best low-cost lodging deals.

Photo credit: Getty

15. Rent a car. If you don’t own your own vehicle, renting a car beforehand for as cheap as $22 a day on sites like ExpediaHotwire, and Travelocity can be a great deal.

Photo credit: Getty

16. Alert your bank. Sometimes banks will deem charges in new cities as fraudulent and cancel your cards.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

17. Stick to budget-friendly activities. Some ideas include hiking national parks, visiting beaches and checking out a town’s culture by walking the streets and venturing into a street fair.

Photo credit: Getty

18. Take advantage of student discounts. If you’re currently a student, bring your student ID for maximum discounts.

Photo credit: Getty

19. Download road trip planning apps. Apps like Roadtrippers are a great way to help plan and finance your new excursion.

Photo credit: Getty


3. Get discounted gift cards

Some of us typically frequent the same gas station. Maybe it's convenient, or perhaps we just like the coffee they serve. If you know exactly where you plan to fill up the tank the next few times, it's probably worth investing in a discounted gift card from your favorite gas retailer.

Sites such as Raise and Cardpool offer price breaks for gift cards from Shell, 76, BP, Chevron and more. For example, Raise recently offered Chevron cards at up to a 2.1 percent discount, while Cardpool offered Sunoco gift cards at a 3 percent discount. Hey, every little bit helps!

4. Open a credit card account

Again, this works best for people who always go to the same gas station. If you exhibit such loyalty, applying for the appropriate credit card can net you substantial savings on gas prices over the course of a year.

Here are examples of some companies and the discounts they offer to customers who use the company-branded credit card to fill up on fuel:

To search for more credit card options, check out our Solutions Center.

5. Take advantage of grocery fuel programs

Many grocery stores reward their shoppers with fuel perks programs that can cut the cost of the next fill-up. For example, sign up at Kroger, and you earn 1 fuel point for every $1 you spend. Even better, you get twice the points when you buy gift cards, or wireless phones or contract cards.

You can then use the points to net savings on gas at Kroger Fuel Centers and participating Shell stations.

As we say, many grocers offer similar programs. So, check with your favorite food seller!

More on AOL.com:
Can't afford an expensive flight? This startup will let you put it on layaway
Lyft says it's not seeking a buyer, blames Uber for spreading lies
The 1 word that will allow you to achieve any goal

Do you know of other ways to cut the price of gas? Share them by commenting below or on our Facebook page.

More on Money Talks News:
If a Store Advertises the Wrong Price, Does It Have to Honor It?
50 Ways to Make a Fast $50
8 Ways to Squeeze the Most From Your Costco Membership

Read Full Story

People are Reading