With gas at a crazy price, people are asking themselves if they can save fuel money.
As of March 31, 2022, the average national price for a gallon of regular gasoline touched $4.25, according to AAA. As your wallet informed you, this is some of the highest prices ever. And, that’s not even taking inflation into account.
What about the cost of diesel? That’s over $5 per gallon. And, yes. That’s also shattered records.
Despite this, many of us still rely on our vehicles to commute to work or run errands. And, regardless of the record-breaking prices, road trips remain popular.
Ways to Save Fuel and Money
While there isn’t much of a silver lining here, there are still ways for you to conserve fuel so that you can save more fuel money and spend less.
1. Find the best gas station near you by tracking local prices.
Looking for the best gas prices in the U.S. and Canada? By using the apps GasBuddy and Waze, you can get the price of gasoline in your area. There are tens of thousands of gas station locations listed on these fuel-finding apps, with near-real-time prices. Moreover, both apps are available on the web or through mobile apps for Android and iOS.
Those who drive a lot may want to roll with GasBuddy Premium. Even though it’s a $99 annual membership, it promises to save drivers up to $0.40 per gallon in fuel money.
2. Use a rewards credit card.
You should apply for a rewards credit card if you do not already have one. But, what exactly are they? Well, they’re nothing more than a credit card that earns cash or points every time you fill up.
For consumers with excellent or good credit, popular options include;
- The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. You can earn between 1% to 5% cashback on all eligible U.S. gas station purchases
- The Citi Premier® Card. Another credit card offers a 3% return on gas purchases.
- Discover it® Cash Back. You can earn bonus cash back, usually 5%, in quarterly categories that you activate.
- The Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card. 3% effective return rate is earned on purchases made at eligible gas stations.
- PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card. It is one of the best cards for earning gas rewards since cardholders earn 5 points per $1 spent at a gas station.
For Costco members, Citi offers the Costco Anywhere Visa card, a rewards card featuring a robust rewards program. The first $7,000 of eligible gasoline purchases earns 4% cashback (payable as Costco store credit), which is adequate for all but the most taxing drivers.
Are you partial to a specific gas station family? If so, join its rewards program and apply for a store credit card. You’ll earn instant savings at the pump or redeemable rewards. Compared to regular credit card rewards, instant discounts from these rewards programs can provide a better rate of return as well.
3. Pay with cash.
Even if you have a rewards credit card, you might want to proceed with caution. After all, it’s not uncommon for gas stations to charge you more if you pay with a credit card.
“Depending on where you are, that may be 10 to 15 cents a gallon,” said Andrew Lipow of Lipow Oil Associates.
However, there is the possibility of even greater savings. Some stations may even go as high as offering a 75-cent discount.
Why do gas stations prefer cash? Fuel stations and other merchants pay a fee to credit card companies for processing their transactions. Generally, the fee is 2% to 3% of the purchase price, according to the Georgia Department of Consumer Affairs.
Another reason? You can’t pay at the pump, unlike credit cards. That means you have to go inside. “To buy the snacks and the drinks and whatever they’re selling,” Lipow said. “Most of the profit for a convenience store is coming from the sale of food, beverages, and cigarettes.
If you do use cash, just make sure that you resist the temptation of impulse buys. One trick I use is filling an exact dollar amount and only having that cash on me. So, I spend $50, then I only bring in a $50 bill when paying for gas.
4. Avoid premium.
There was a time when premium gas made sense. This was because it contained additional detergents and additives to help prevent carbon deposits. As such, it could assist in cleaning a car’s engine. However, as Jason Kavanagh writes for Edmunds, “now, because of government regulations aimed at cutting emissions, most major brands of gasoline have plenty of additives in all grades to both protect engines and cut pollution.”
In short, filling your tank with a premium is a waste of money. The exception? Vehicles that require premium fuel.
5. Fuel up on the right days.
When should you fuel up? According to GasBuddy, Mondays.
For the whole country, the cheapest day to buy gas in 2021 was Monday. Gas prices started the week at their lowest point in several previous years at the start of the week. Even though Friday has traditionally been one of the most expensive days to fill up with gas because of the weekend start, in 2021 it was the second least expensive day to do so.
“Though there is variation in daily gas prices across different states, the consensus is that filling up at the beginning or end of the workweek, on Monday or Friday, is the best way to save money,” stated Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.
How much can you really save by filling your tank on the right days?
By filling up on the cheapest days of the week, GasBuddy estimates that drivers can save $50 to $100 per year. According to this calculation, gas costs roughly $3.35 per gallon, with four fill-ups per month of 12 gallons each, and on other days of the week, gas runs 7 cents to 12 cents more expensive.
6. Purchase discounted gas cards through a reseller.
Discounts on gas are available to members of Costco, Sam’s Club, and Walmart Plus. Walmart Plus offers a 5-cent discount at its fueling centers and offers access to all Sam’s Club locations. The cost of a membership with Sam’s Club is $45, whereas memberships with BJ’s Wholesale Club are $55 and Costco are $60.
“Gas prices at warehouse clubs are nearly always lower, ranging from 5 cents to 25 cents less per gallon,” says De Haan. “And when prices rise, they hold their prices down for longer.”
What’s more, if you’re buying groceries in bulk then being a warehouse member is well worth the price. As if that weren’t enough, you can expect additional coupons and cashback rewards.
7. Use free or discounted gift cards.
A gift card is a popular choice for an easy present, but not all of them are redeemed. As such, many resellers let consumers resell their unused gift cards and buy them cheaply.
You can buy and sell unused Chevron, Texaco, Shell, BP, and other gas gift cards over at Gift Card Granny and Raise. It’s likely that most of these discounted gas gift cards are out of stock right now. However, you can sign up for email alerts when new ones become available.
Both gift card sites also sell gift cards at retail rates, and Gift Card Granny also has reward cards. Always read the fine print and make sure the discount you are getting matches the details of the card.
8. Ease up on the gas and brakes.
In general, gas mileage rapidly declines when driving over 50 mph, costing you approximately $0.23 extra per gallon for every 5 mph above that speed, according to the Department of Energy.
“The harder your engine works, the more gas it’s going to take. Rapid acceleration and high-speed driving make your engine work harder, and therefore, it sucks up more gasoline,” says Jack Gillis, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America and author of “The Car Book.”
Fuel is often wasted not only when we accelerate quickly, but also when we brake suddenly. To avoid this, it is recommended to coast to a red light or downhill.
Also, observing the speed isn’t just safer, it’s also a surefire way to avoid speeding tickets. In case you’re wondering, the average cost of a speeding ticket is $150.
Additionally, your auto insurance will be lower too. A speeding ticket in the U.S. costs an average of $2,029 per year, while a clean driving record costs $1674.
9. Don’t be an aggressive driver.
Aggressive driving, such as speeding, rapid acceleration, and braking, also wastes fuel. At highway speeds, it can reduce your gas mileage by 15 to 30%, and in stop-and-go traffic, it can decrease it by 10 to 40%, notes the Department of Energy.
You can improve your driving efficiency with driver feedback devices. According to a recent study, they can help drivers improve fuel economy by about 3% and can save drivers about 10% in fuel money by using them.
In addition to saving gas money, sensible driving is also safer for you and others. And, it can prevent vehicle damage or costly tickets.
10. Keep your vehicle light.
Stop storing items in your vehicle that are unnecessary, especially heavy ones. You might lose 1% of your MPG if you carry 100 extra pounds in your vehicle.
In general, smaller vehicles are more affected by the reduction due to their increased weight relative to their original weight.
11. Don’t add drag.
The aerodynamic drag (wind resistance) caused by hauling cargo on your roof can reduce your fuel economy, explains the Department of Energy.
For example, a large, blunt roof-top cargo box can reduce fuel economy by around 2% to 8% when driving in the city, 6% to 17% on the highway, and 10% to 25% at Interstate speeds (65 mph to 75 mph).
The fuel economy of rear-mounted cargo boxes or trays is significantly less. In city driving, they reduce fuel economy by 1 to 2%, and on the highway, they reduce it by 1 to 5%.
12. Avoid excessive idling.
Fuel use during idling can range from a quarter to a half-gallon per hour, depending on engine size and air conditioner usage.
Because of this, Be sure to switch off your vehicle’s engine when you park. After all, it only takes about 10 seconds of fuel to start it up again.
13. Use cruise control.
In hilly areas without cruise control, you may get better gas mileage, because the system tends to downshift too much and waste fuel. Other than that, however, cruise away. The use of cruise control while maintaining a steady speed has been shown to reduce fuel consumption.
Additionally, this ensures that you aren’t breaking the speed limit. Which again, prevents pricey speeding tickets,
14. Check your gas cap.
A gas cap that isn’t sealed, has a fault, or is missing can reduce your fuel efficiency by 2%.
The reason? Well, gas caps keep your fuel from leaking as it evaporates. On hot days, evaporated fuel escapes quickly through any cracks in the cap if it is faulty or unsealed.
The majority of modern cars have a sensor that alerts you when the gas cap is faulty. However, checking for cracks, chips, or tears at least once a week isn’t time-consuming. And, it’s a simple way to save both fuel and money.
15. Maintain your vehicle.
You will not only save money on repair costs down the road, but you’ll also save fuel money in the interim by performing regular maintenance.
You should change your oil and filters regularly as it thickens over time as deposits accumulate. You should also address the check engine light (CEL) immediately. All of the devices that can trigger a CEL, such as oxygen sensors, spark plugs, and throttle bodies, have to work together to maximize the efficiency and performance of your engine. Follow the service interval recommended in your owner’s manual for best results.
While you’re at it, make certain that your tires are inflated properly. By keeping your tires inflated properly, you will improve your gas mileage by 0.6% on average, and even by 3% in some cases. Tires underinflated by 1 psi can decrease gas mileage by about 0.2%.
In addition, properly inflated tires last longer and are safer.
And, speaking of your tires, make sure that they’re properly aligned and rotated frequently. It’s suggested that when you get an oil change your tires are rotated at the same time.
16. Map out your routes.
By suggesting certain routes that avoid hills and traffic, Google Maps will also help you increase your miles per gallon. On the Android and iOS apps, fuel-efficient routes are available. However, not all users have yet been provided with this feature.
Google Maps has an option to turn on fuel efficiency simply by tapping the three dots, then navigating to “Route options” and selecting the “Prefer fuel-efficient routes” option.
Fuelio and Jerrycan are other fuel-tracking mobile apps you might want to explore. These apps allow you to track gas prices along with improving your fuel efficiency. According to JerryCan, its app can help drivers save up to 20% in fuel money or fuel compensation.
17. Claim expenses.
Were you be able to deduct gas expenses on your tax return? The caveat? You must own a business or are self-employed and use the vehicle for business purposes.
To find out whether your individual situation qualifies for deductions, you’ll have to do some research with the Internal Revenue Service or speak with an expert.
18. Modify your commute.
It is more expensive and environmentally harmful to drive alone to work than to take any other form of transportation. The problem is amplified if you work in a congested district where parking is limited and hard on your wallet.
With that in mind, you may want to consider more cost-effective ways of getting to and from work. You have several options depending on your location, how much time you have in the morning, and whether you are physically fit.
- Establish a carpool with co-workers who live nearby and rotate driving responsibilities daily or weekly.
- Use of public transit, including bus or train services, to reduce your net costs per trip, such as local or regional buses and trains
- If possible, walk or bike to work.
19. Work from home (if possible).
COVID-19 has demonstrated that many white-collar jobs can be done remotely without affecting productivity significantly.
In fact, according to Gallup’s September 2021 update of its monthly employment trends, 45% of full-time U.S. employees worked from home either all (25%) or part of the time (20%).
Consider negotiating a remote work arrangement with your employer if you are able to do your job remotely, but you have not yet done so.
The possibility of part-time or full-time remote work can substantially reduce your household transportation costs, and a full-time remote position may open the door to living in a less congested, expensive, or more green community.
20. Stop looking for the “perfect” parking spot.
The average U.S. motorist spends 17 hours per year and $345 per driver looking for parking, according to Inrix. It should be noted, though, that some question those figures.
However, choosing parking spaces farther from your destination is one way to reduce fuel waste — even if it’s not as much as Inrix reported. While this rule isn’t always feasible in areas with insufficient parking space, such as business, shopping, and entertainment districts, it’s still worth trying.
To put it simply, rather than driving around the block in search of the perfect spot, go to a less congested area and travel by foot. As an added bonus, this is beneficial to your health.
21. Keep left turns to a minimum.
As with idling, waiting for an opportunity to turn while idling in the left turn lane takes much more time (and gas) than making a right turn.
Similarly, UPS found that they could save $300 to $400 million in fuel money a year by minimizing left turns on their delivery routes, in addition to saving on wages and maintenance.
22. Use the eco setting or limit your air conditioning/heater usage.
It’s been estimated that using your car’s air conditioner can reduce fuel economy by 25%. In very hot weather, on short trips, and in hybrid vehicles, this effect is particularly noticeable.
Use the coolest non-AC fan setting instead of your air conditioner on more pleasant days. Use your vehicle’s “eco” AC setting if it has one when it is too hot to go entirely without air conditioning. Also, parking your vehicle in the shade may also help.
What about colder weather? Avoid using power-sucking features like seat warmers, window defrosters, or heater fans. Or, try to use them briefly. And, as opposed to parking in cooler spaces like in the share, keeping your vehicle parked in an enclosed space is possible.
23. Don’t drive in heavy traffic or bad weather.
Fuel economy decreases when you’re stuck in traffic or when it’s windy or rainy, as well as during busy, high-traffic times.
The reason? You must use more fuel to overcome air resistance when driving in bad weather because there is more air resistance.
And, if you’re stuck in traffic, you’re likely to stop and start, idle, and weave, and your fuel economy decreases faster than you can keep up with.
24. Stop running on fumes.
Though it may not happen too often, it’s interesting to learn that if you wait until the tank is empty before filling up, explains Virtual Drive, you may cause an expensive mechanical issue. In your vehicle, the gasoline acts as a coolant for the motor of the electrical fuel pump.
In turn, the pump will attempt to suck in air when your tank is empty. Over time, this could result in the fuel pump overheating and even failing prematurely. In addition, it is important to avoid getting dirt in your fuel tank as well as possibly running out of fuel and becoming stranded.
And, as a result of your desperation, you may choose the first station you see even if it’s at a higher price per gallon.
25. Consider buying a more fuel-efficient vehicle.
Finally, you can save fuel money by buying a vehicle with a higher MPG (miles per gallon) rating. If you don’t want to worry about fuel prices ever again, think about a hybrid car or an electric vehicle — if it’s within your budget.
In general, vehicles with manual transmissions tend to be more fuel-efficient than automatic transmissions. And, in my opinion, it’s fun to drive a manual transmission.