5 ways to slash the cost of gas
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.
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:
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:
- Chevron and/or Texaco Techron Advantage Cards — 3 cents per gallon
- ExxonMobil Smart Card — 6 cents per gallon
- Shell Platinum Select MasterCard — 10 cents per gallon or more
- BP Visa Credit Card — Earn 25 cents per gallon for every $100 you spend on gas at BP
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!
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Do you know of other ways to cut the price of gas? Share them by commenting below or on our Facebook page.