With the average price of gas over $4 for the first time in fifteen years, you might be struggling to afford to fill your tank up. But luckily, learning a few tips and tricks can help save you money on gas. Here are some easy ways to slash your fuel costs and boost your bottom line.
Get more bang for your buck
First, track the cheapest gas prices through a free app, such as Gas Guru. “And bring cash — at many stations, you’ll save 10 to 15 cents per gallon,” says budgeting expert Andrea Woroch. If you are in the market for a credit card with rewards, look at your end-of-year credit statement to see which category you spend most on overall — it may not be gas, says Woroch. “You may end up earning more points with a card that gives you flat-rate rewards, like 2 percent on everything you buy. It depends on your spending habits.” Go to CardRates.com to compare rewards.
Avoid pricier days
You may have heard prices at the pump surge on Fridays, as folks hit the road on the weekend. That used to be true, but trends are shifting, says GasBuddy spokesperson Nicole Petersen. “Our annual study for 2022 shows that the cheapest day of the week is still Monday, but the most expensive days are now Wednesday and Thursday,” she reveals, surmising that over the pandemic, our habits have changed, with more of us making mid-week plans to travel or take short trips. “This is the first year we’ve seen such a shift, but it remains true that the best time to fill up is early in the week.”
“Fuel rewards programs — at participating stations like Shell, Exxon, and BP — are your secret weapon,” says Petersen. And she does mean secret! “Our survey found that 46 percent of people don’t belong to a loyalty program — it’s an underutilized tool because it saves drivers $50 to $100 per year,” Petersen notes.
“Sign up for a loyalty program at, say, Kroger or Stop & Shop, and for each dollar you spend on groceries, you’ll earn one fuel point at participating stations,” adds Woroch. “For every 100 points you rack up, you’ll earn ten cents per gallon.” Don’t stop there: Download a cash-back app, like Fetch Rewards. “They increased fuel rewards from five to 20 points per receipt — 1,000 points earns you a gift card,” Woroch says.
Drive smart and ‘bundle’ trips
Taking several short trips consumes almost twice as much gas as “bundling” several errands in one outing. That’s because the engine burns through more gas from a cold start and is more fuel efficient when the car is already warm, says AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross. And before you head out, lighten your load: “At highway speeds, 50 percent of engine power goes to decreasing aerodynamic drag, so removing gear from your trunk will boost fuel efficiency,” Gross adds. Indeed, ditching “dead weight” can save you three cents per gallon — and every bit counts!
Be highway savvy
You’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating: Go easy on the pedal. “Speeding lowers fuel economy by 15 to 30 percent,” says Petersen. Indeed, for every five mph we drive above 50 mph, we waste 22 cents per gallon. Also smart: Turn on your A/C if you’re going over 50 mph. “At highway speeds, rolling down windows decreases fuel efficiency by 20 percent,” Petersen explains.
Skip ‘tanker time’
If you pull into the station and spot a tanker truck supplying the gas terminals, come back another time, or go to the station across the street, advises Gross. “The truck stirs sediment in the underground tanks, reducing the quality of the gas and decreasing fuel efficiency.”
In short, all it takes is a few clever strategies and easy tweaks to your driving habits to save you plenty at the pump.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.