That familiar feeling of dread you get when pulling up to the gas pump may not fade anytime soon as the national average gas price remains at an all-time high. The good news is that figuring out how to save money on gas doesn't have to be complicated.
How To Save Money on Gas – 7 Simple Tips
Watching the price of gas continuously climb can be a source of financial stress, especially if you have a long commute.
While your wallet has likely been feeling the pinch, your hands aren't tied. Here are a few easy ways to save money on gas.
1. Compare Fuel Prices
Many people frequent the same gas stations out of loyalty or convenience, but one of the easiest ways to save money on gas is to seek out the lowest gas prices.
Apps can help you locate the cheapest gas prices in your area. For example, Gas Guru will tell you how much a gallon of gas costs at U.S. gas stations for regular gas and even allows you to view pricing for premium gas. The app also color codes the results to identify the best deal quickly.
Another option to score cheaper gas is to ditch the convenience store and swing by the pumps at a warehouse club. You'll often find the best prices at stores like Sam's Club, BJ's, or Costco.
2. Use Gift Cards for Gas Purchases
Upside is a free app for Android and iOS devices that rewards you with free gift cards (or PayPal cash) when you spend at gas stations, grocery stores, or restaurants.
Download the app, tap the gas pump, and the Upside app will show you all the locations near you that offer cashback per gallon. Using Upside can significantly reduce the cost of gas and decrease your monthly gas bill. There are many other apps that give cash rewards and free gift cards. Some of the most popular options are:
Fetch Rewards is an app that rewards you for every purchase. Sign up for a free account, install the app on your phone, and scan your receipt.
Earn a minimum of 25 points for any receipt you scan, and get rewarded with bonus points when you purchase an item that qualifies for a special offer. Connect your email to Fetch Rewards and avoid missing out on points for online purchases. Cash out your rewards for free gift cards.
Get rewarded for online activities such as playing games, surveys, and watching videos. Redeem points for cash or prepaid Visa cards. Plus, get a $5 welcome bonus upon signing up.
Rakuten rewards you for shopping online. Get $10 when you sign up for Rakuten and earn cashback rewards from thousands of online retailers.
Before heading to your favorite website, first head to Rakuten.com. Search for the retailer you want to shop at, click on it, and Rakuten will take you directly to the retailer's website.
Make your purchase as usual, and Rakuten will credit your account with cashback. Rakuten will pay you via PayPal or a paper check at the end of each quarter.
Get paid to search the web, watch videos, and take surveys when you use Swagbucks. Download the app to earn on the go when standing in line or on your lunch break. Exchange your points for cash or gift cards. Plus, get a $5 sign-up bonus.
3. Earn Rewards
Earning rewards is one of the best ways to offset the high prices of gas. There are several ways to earn rewards, and while not all of them will directly get you a lower price at the pump, they can help you put some extra money in your pocket.
Most grocery stores now offer customers a loyalty program to help them save money on groceries and incentivize them to shop. Grocery chains that also sell gas often have a gas rewards program, which allows customers to earn rewards based on the amount of money they spend in the store.
When a customer fills up their tank at the grocery store, they can apply the gas rewards they've earned to reduce the cost of their gas purchase.
Taking advantage of these programs can considerably impact the average gas price you end up paying over time.
However, most gas reward programs restrict the timeframe to redeem your rewards and the number of gallons of gas you can purchase at the discounted price. Therefore, it's a good idea to understand the program's limitations to avoid missing out on cheap gas.
In addition to grocery stores, most gas stations also offer loyalty programs that allow you to earn rewards and discounts on fuel purchases.
Credit Card Rewards
Another option is to use a rewards credit card to earn cashback rewards on your spending. Some banks, such as American Express, allow you to earn rewards on your bank account when you make purchases using your debit card.
Most credit cards allow you to use your credit card points in various ways. Some common redemption methods include gift cards to purchase gas, trading them in for a statement credit, or even transferring the monetary equivalent to your bank account.
Next time you're at the pump, pay with your rewards credit or debit card to earn additional points on your gas purchase.
4. Improve Your Fuel Efficiency
The term “fuel economy” is often confused with “fuel efficiency.” Fuel economy refers to how many miles per gallon your vehicle gets. That is the number you see on the window sticker at the car dealership.
Fuel efficiency describes how your vehicle utilizes fuel. Essentially, when your vehicle uses fuel more efficiently, it improves your gas mileage, equating to fewer trips to the pump.
Many factors contribute to fuel efficiency. A good portion of an engine's fuel efficiency depends on the engineering of the engine itself. Still, there are many ways to improve fuel efficiency.
- Maintain recommended pressure in tires: Proper tire pressure leads to less fuel consumption.
- Find your sweet spot: Driving too fast or too slow can use more fuel. The U.S. Department of Energy suggests sticking to the speed limit as gas mileage quickly decreases beyond 50mph.
- Lose some weight: No, not you, your car! The lighter your vehicle and its load, the less fuel it consumes. Do not use your vehicle as a storage shed; ditch the bike and roof rack when possible.
- Take care of your vehicle: Keeping up with oil and air filter changes, rotating your tires, and attending to other regular maintenance will help your vehicle perform its best.
- Reduce Your Fuel Consumption
Less driving will result in decreased gas costs. Here are a few alternatives to getting behind the wheel are:
- Taking public transportation
- Carpool with friends or co-workers
- Walk, run, bike, skate, or skip
- Adjust your schedule to work from home when possible
- Relocate (admittedly a slightly extreme option, but worth a mention)
5. Modify Your Driving Habits
Changing the way you drive can be difficult, as is changing any habit. Still, modifying some of your driving habits can reduce fuel costs over time.
Most of us run our errands on the fly or whenever it's convenient, but combining your errands and appointments can help you save money on gas by reducing the number of trips you are making.
Choose one day each week to be “errand day.” Then, take a few minutes each weekend to plan your errands. Set aside enough time to accomplish everything you need in that one day – in one trip.
Schedule your appointments on that same day, whenever possible, and tackle your errands around your appointments. Although, of course, this option may not work for many people, modify it as needed to fit your particular schedule. Not only will you save money on gas, but you'll also save time.
Know When To Use Air Conditioning
Generally speaking, air conditioner use does save gas when driving at higher speeds. But when driving at slower speeds, open windows are the best way to cool your car.
Change Your Schedule
Your schedule isn't necessarily a “driving habit.” However, it greatly impacts when you drive (which can affect your driving habits.)
For instance, when driving during rush hour, you may be more prone to aggressive driving as you deal with congested roadways and traffic jams.
Changing the time you must arrive at the office or when you leave the office can help you avoid traffic and reduce travel time.
Change Your Route
If your daily drive home consists of city driving, you'll save gas if you take an alternative route of driving on the highway. Maintaining consistent highway speeds is more efficient and avoids rapid acceleration, which requires more fuel.
When a highway route is not an option, you'll conserve fuel by avoiding driving aggressively, slamming on your breaks at a red light, and allowing your vehicle to idle for extended periods.
6. Switch to an Electric Vehicle
Most people are not in the position to run out and buy a new car – especially a pricey electric model amidst a time of high inflation. However, if you are currently car shopping, it's a great time to have a look at electric cars.
Unfortunately, the prices are usually higher than their gas-guzzling counterparts; however, you'll be rid of that pesky gas bill.
If you're not ready to make the leap or can't afford to, consider splitting the difference with a plug-in hybrid. Unlike a fully electric vehicle, a hybrid vehicle still uses fuel. However, it doesn't use as much fuel as a traditional gas-powered vehicle.
According to Consumer Reports, a hybrid saves around 2.38 gallons of gas over a gas-only sedan during a 500-mile road trip.
Finding ways to lower gas costs or get free gas is possible with some effort. So take action and put one – or many – of these tips into practice to keep more money in your pocket and reduce stressful trips to the pump.
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.
Kristin Stones is the founder of Cents + Purpose, an online community dedicated to sharing practical personal finance content. Her mission is to equip women with the necessary tools and knowledge to take back control of their money and live a more purposeful life. She creates actionable content to help her audience achieve financial wellness using her simple approach to managing money - all learned through her personal experience of paying off almost $55,000 of debt in under two years.