Just when you think they can’t possibly jump any higher, gas prices start rising again. They’ve long passed the $5 mark in much of the country, and in some areas they’ve even gone beyond $6 a gallon. This means it’ll cost the average American close to $100 just to fill a 16-gallon tank. With prices peaking on so many other goods, the pain at the pump is real.
There isn’t much you can do about the cost of gas, but there are ways you can pay less at the pump. Here are six ways to save on the cost of gasoline.
1. Use cash
Lots of gas stations offer a discount for cash payments, sometimes up to $0.20 per gallon. This can quickly add up when pumping a full tank. Just be careful to have the cash handy when you need it, as you don’t want to lose all those savings to ATM fees when using machines that are not connected to your credit union.
2. Use a rewards program or credit card
If you don’t like the idea of carrying around a lot of cash, but you still want to save at the pump, consider signing up for a rewards program or credit card. Tread carefully, though; not all of these programs actually benefit the consumer. Ask these questions about any rewards program or credit card you’re considering before signing up:
- Is there an annual fee? An annual fee can easily offset any savings you might incur from rewards.
- Is there a cap on rewards? Some programs limit the amount of rewards that can be accrued per quarter or year. If the cap is not sufficient for your needs, the program might not be for you.
- What is the redemption value for each reward point? Actual rewards can vary tremendously by program. Be sure to find out exactly how much a rewards point is worth to see if it’s actually a good deal.
- Is this card only good for purchasing gas? Some rewards cards allow you to rack up points with any purchase at a gas station, while others are strictly for fuel only.
- What are the membership requirements for this rewards card? Make sure the requirements aren’t so rigid or restrictive that you can’t earn enough points to make it worthwhile.
In addition, consider your personal track record with credit cards before signing up for a gas rewards credit card. If you already find it challenging to pay off your balance in full each month, it may not be the best idea to open another credit card.
3. Check your tire pressure
According to the US Department of Energy, a well-inflated tire can save you $0.15/gallon by boosting your gas mileage by 3%. Check your tires regularly to ensure they’re always inflated. To make this easier, consider springing for a tire pressure gauge that will automatically monitor the health of your tires.
4. Use a gas-tracking app
In 2022, there’s no need to search for the gas station offering the best-priced gas. There’s an app for that! Popular gas-tracking apps include GasBuddy, Upside and Waze. Using the gas station conveniently located right near your home or workplace might be easier, but taking the extra time to find one that sells fuel for less can save you a bundle.
5. Purchase a club membership
If you don’t already have one, this may be the time to buy a club membership. Costo, Sam’s Club and Walmart Plus all offer discounted gas exclusively to members. Of the three, Costco tends to feature gas for the lowest price, up to $0.34 less per gallon than a typical gas station. In today’s gas-crazy climate, that’s a huge difference. Of course, you’ll want to find out how much a club membership will cost you before signing up to join any of these or other club stores to ensure it’s worth the price. Also, be prepared for long lines at the club store’s gas station, especially with spiking gas prices.
6. Buy gas at the right time of day
Did you know there’s an ideal time of day to fill your tank? And no, we’re not talking about shorter lines, or even the time of day before prices will change yet again. You can get more bang for your buck if you buy your gas in the early morning or late evening hours, when it’s generally cooler out. If you pump gas during the midday hours, after the sun has been beating down on the gas reservoir all day, the gas has likely expanded. This means you’ll be paying the same price for a less-dense gasoline, which will not last as long. Pump when it’s cooler outside for the densest gas.
It’s sticker shock at the pump these days, but there are still some ways you can save on gas costs. Use these tips to get started.
Your Turn: How do you save at the gas pump? Share your best tips and hacks in the comments.