Prices at the pump vary by region. According to fuel savings app GasBuddy, California leads the states with the highest average per-gallon prices, closely followed by Hawaii and Nevada.
With the fuel price in America at all-time highs, most motorists are open to any suggestions on how to save on gas. After many Americans’ travel plans were foiled by the pandemic the last winter holiday season, more people are likely to hit the road this year as vaccine protection makes it relatively safe to gather with distant family and friends.
Some relief from the record-high prices may be coming soon now that President Biden has stepped in to lower them by releasing 50 million barrels of oil from the country’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Until then, here are some creative ways to keep your fuel costs down.
Change your driving style
How you drive your car determines how much fuel it uses. Driving gently makes your car engine operate more efficiently, and the reverse is also true. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (USDE), aggressive driving can lower your fuel efficiency by 14-40 percent.
If you have a heavy foot, it’s time to stop making “jackrabbit” starts, accelerating hard, and excessively revving your car. Accelerate gradually. Letting the automatic transmission upshift earlier will reduce your engine’s rpm and stretch your gas even further.
Other driving tips that can help you stay ahead of fuel price increases include shutting off the engine when you stop your car for more than 60 seconds; using air conditioning only when it’s absolutely necessary; and keeping your tires well inflated.
Shop around for the best price
There can be significant price swings between gas stations depending on where you live. Comparing prices by simply looking at the price from the street means you’re leaving money on the table. Smartphone apps like Gas Guru, GasBuddy, and AAA TripTik can help you find nearby gas stations and the best prices in your area or along your route.
You’re more likely to get a better deal at gas stations not located on major highways. Too many car owners just pull up to the closest pump and end up overpaying for gas.
Don’t ignore small savings. The price-per-gallon difference may only be a few cents, but it can still add up to hundreds of dollars per year.
Use a cheap payment method
You can keep more money in your wallet just by paying cash. Some gas stations offer a lower price when customers pay with cash or a debit card instead of a credit card. This may mean carrying paper money and paying the clerk inside, but you can save 10 cents to 15 cents per gallon just by doing this.
Consider paying with a cash-back credit card. Some credit cards have specific spending categories (like gas) with high-percentage cash-back amounts.
True, the credit card price may be higher than the cash price. But if you were to use the credit card anyway, the cash back reward could make it a better deal. Just remember to pay off the card balance in full, or the interest will negate any gas price savings.
Many gas station chains have loyalty programs that are free to join and offer cents-per-gallon discounts. Find one that works for you, sign up and use it.
Use regular fuel
Some motorists buy higher-cost premium gasoline needlessly for cars designed for regular fuel. The belief is that a higher-grade fuel translates to increased power and better fuel economy. This is not always the case.
Based on the current national average for gas prices, midgrade gas costs about 28 cents per gallon more than what you’d pay for regular gas, and premium gas costs 52 cents more than regular on average.
If you opt for midgrade or premium gas, you could be paying anywhere from $8-$20 to fill that same tank. So check your owner’s manual or the gas cap to see if premium gas is “recommended” or “required.” “Recommended” means your car can run on regular gas.
Plan your traveling
Driving less is a foolproof way to save fuel. This can be achieved with proper planning.
If you need to travel a long distance for deliveries or appointments, for example, cluster them with other stops you may need to make in the same area. Combining short trips will help you avoid backtracking or traveling to the same area on different days.
Instead of visiting the grocery shop every day, plan your schedule to go once a week and do all your grocery shopping.
Global demand for gas remains high. As long as supply remains tight, gas will only become more expensive. Your best bet is to combine the above strategies to maximize your savings.