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Rising gas prices are out of your control, but you can still take action to save money at the pump.
Gas prices are rising. The average price of regular gas in the U.S. is $3.356 per gallon, as of Jan. 28, 2022, according to AAA. Last year, on the same day, the average price was $2.449 — more than 90 cents cheaper. As a result, you’re paying way more when you fill up your gas tank. And this might have thrown your budget out of whack.
But the good news is: there are some things you can do to save money on gas. Using gas-saving apps, keeping up with your car’s maintenance schedule, adopting smarter driving habits, and taking other steps can potentially save you hundreds of dollars.
Let’s take a look at 11 easy tips that can help you lower your fuel costs.
How To Save Money at the Gas Pump
Prices vary from gas station to gas station. Learning how to shop around to get the best price in your area and using certain strategies could lead to massive savings.
1. Use gas-saving apps or websites
One of the best ways you can save money is to search for cheap gas in your area. To find the best deals, download a fuel-saving app like GasBuddy or Gas Guru. These apps allow you to compare the price of gas at multiple gas stations nearby.
If you prefer using a website instead of an app, you can visit GasBuddy.com or MapQuest.com.
You can also compare gas prices by using a GPS app like Google Maps or Waze. Simply click the gas station icon underneath the search bar in either app to view a list of gas stations and prices in your area.
2. Don’t buy premium gas (unless your car requires it)
The average price of premium gas is more expensive than regular and mid-grade gas. If you’re buying premium gas — by your own choice, and not based on manufacturer recommendation — you could be wasting money. According to FuelEconomy.gov, if you’re using premium gas for normal driving conditions, you might not see any benefits.
That said, if your car vehicle manufacturer does recommend premium gas, continue using it. Putting a lower grade of fuel in your gas tank could cause major damage to your engine, which would cancel out any savings from buying cheaper gas.
3. Pay for gas with a rewards credit card
Do you have a rewards credit card? Paying for gas with one could help you earn rewards points or get a certain percentage of cash back for gas purchases.
Some fuel retailers offer gas credit cards you can apply for that can be used to purchase discounted gas at one of its stores. This could be a good way to save money if you prefer shopping at a certain gas station.
If you choose to use a credit card for fuel, just remember to pay your credit card bill in full on or before the due date to avoid interest and late charges.
4. Pay in cash
When you buy gas with cash, some gas stations will give you a discounted price for paying in cash. If you’re unsure whether the gas station offers a discount, ask the gas station clerk. Alternatively, you can use the GasBuddy app to search for nearby gas stations that offer a cash discount.
5. Sign up for a gas rewards program
Some gas stations and grocery stores offer free gas rewards programs. Although the rules of every program vary, some allow you to purchase discounted gas for enrolling. Also, depending on the program, you could earn additional discounts for shopping at certain stores.
6. Get a warehouse club membership
Sometimes gas can be cheaper at warehouse clubs than other gas stations. For example, CNN reported gas at Costco is often $0.20 below market average, according to Tom Kloza, the Global Head of Energy Analysis at IHIS Market’s Oil Price Information Service.
To purchase gas at Costco or Sam’s Club, you usually need to have a membership, which requires paying an annual fee of $45 or more. If gas is a lot cheaper at a warehouse club in your area than other gas stations, the membership costs might be worth paying.
Smart Driving Habits To Save Money on Gas
7. Drive carefully
Excessive braking and accelerating too fast can decrease your gas mileage by 15% to 20% while driving on the highway and by 10% to 40% in stop-and-go traffic, according to FuelEconomy.gov. To save money, accelerate slowly and tap your brakes gently to stop.
8. Drive slower
When you drive your car past a certain speed, it increases your vehicle’s fuel consumption. In other words, you burn gas faster. According to FuelEconomy.gov, for every five miles you drive over 50 mph it’s like paying an extra $0.21 per gallon (based on a gas price of $3.32).
Does this mean you should never go over 50 miles per hour? No, but it means you should drive at or below the speed limit. That way, you can make the gas in your vehicle last longer and avoid costly speeding tickets.
9. Minimize your idle time
Leaving your car running while it’s parked reduces its fuel economy and pollutes the environment, according to The Department of Energy. To save money and help the environment, turn your engine off while your car is parked.
Maintaining Your Vehicle To Save Money on Gas
When was the last time you cracked open your vehicle’s owner’s manual? Do you have a car maintenance budget? Getting routine maintenance done can improve your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.
10. Make sure your tires are properly inflated
If all four of your tires are under-inflated by an average of one pound per square inch, it can lower your gas mileage by almost 0.2%, according to FuelEconomy.gov.
An easy way to ensure your tires are properly inflated, is to check for yourself. You can typically find the recommended PSI on a sticker inside the driver’s side door frame, and use a digital or manual gauge to measure the tire pressure.
If your tire pressure seems consistently low, you might have a leak. You should take your vehicle to an auto repair or tire shop to address the problem.
11. Use the right type of oil for your vehicle
When you change your oil or take it to an auto repair shop, make sure you’re using the oil that the manufacturer recommends. You can find this information in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. This can help you improve your gas mileage by 1% to 2%, according to FuelEconomy.gov
You Can Potentially Save Hundreds of Dollars on Gas
When gas prices skyrocket, it might seem like there’s nothing you can do to save money on gas. But that’s not the case. By putting some of the tips above into practice, you can lower your fuel costs and maximize your savings.