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How to save on gas this month
From commuting to work to road tripping across the state, gas can be a significant expense each month. And with gas prices spiking up and down, reliably budgeting how much money you should set aside has become pretty difficult. Fortunately, we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeves to help you combat the notoriously unpredictable gas prices so you can save on gas and save yourself some money.
7 Ways to save on gas each month
1. Join a fuel rewards program
Nearly every grocery store has a loyalty card program, from Costco to Safeway. Most offer savings on your groceries but also allow you to earn points at their network of gas stations. (Ever seen a long line of cars waiting for Costco gas? They’re waiting for a reason.) For example, if you spend $100 on groceries, you earn 100 points, equating to $0.10 off per gallon. Save up your gas station rewards and combine credit card rewards to save money.
2. Use a gas rewards credit card
If you use a credit card to purchase your gas, use one that gives you cash back. Costco’s credit card program gives you 4% cash back on purchases up to the first $7000. (The obvious caution here is to pay off the purchase each month on your card or you’ll end up paying more for gas due to interest charges.) Chase Freedom card and the Discover It Card also offer good cash-back programs.
Many credit cards also run quarterly promotions that offer higher cash back percentages on specific categories of purchases (like gas or groceries or travel). If you have multiple cards, log into your credit card apps and use the one offering higher cash back on gas that quarter.
3. Use apps to save on gas near you
Not all gas stations are created equal. Sometimes it’s worth driving an extra block or two (or taking a freeway exit with multiple gas stations) to find the cheapest gas prices There’s also a growing list of apps that do this for you, like Waze, GasBuddy, and Gas Guru. It pays to shop around as the difference in pricing can be significant.
The average American drives 1,200 miles per month; a typical car gets about 25 miles per gallon. Finding a gas station with cheaper gas prices, even $0.10 less per gallon, could save you $120 a month. If you happen to be driving a lot as a side hustle, chances are you’ll save on gas even more by shopping around for the cheapest gas.
4. Buy gas with cash instead of a credit card
If you’re unlikely to be able to pay off your credit card balance each month, interest charges will make your effective gas price per gallon significantly higher. Avoid this by paying with cash. The added bonus is that some gas stations charge a lower price per gallon if you pay with cash. It costs them less if you pay with cash because they are not paying merchant credit card fees, so they share these savings with you. This doesn’t work for everyone, but it does minimize the risk of you going over your gas budget at the pump.
5. Participate in surveys to earn gas gift cards
If you have extra time, consider taking surveys and watching videos online to earn points for a gas card. Swagbucks rewards users with points they can use to earn gas cards. Points convert to dollars that you can trade for a $50 gift card to Exxon, Chevron, or Sunoco. Survey Junkie, InboxDollars are a couple of survey options to consider.
6. Buy discounted gas cards online
Ever get a gift card that you didn’t want or use? You’re not alone. There are a lot of people selling gift cards online at a discount in exchange for cash. Check out Gift Card Granny or Raise to buy a gas card online to save 2-10% on gas cards. As you can imagine, inventory varies, and you may need to monitor the sites carefully to get the best cards.
7. Don’t pay for premium gas
If you are paying for premium gas, you probably don’t need to. Higher-octane gas isn’t necessary for most cars. Since premium gas is 20 to 40 cents more per gallon, this can really add up. Check your car manufacturer handbook – if they don’t specifically require it, don’t do it.
Bad driving habits will cost you gas money
Driving habits impact how much gas you use more than you might think. If you’re serious about saving money at the pump avoid the following:
- Fast accelerations
- Overusing the AC
- Idling for long amounts of time
- Aggressive driving that leaves you riding your breaks a lot means your burning through fuel fast!
Good driving habits that will save on gas:
- Gentle accelerations from a stop
- Staying within the speed limit or under where save
- Allowing your car to coast rather than constantly using the gas then breaking
- Driving on highways rather than in town driving where there is a lot of stopping and starting
- Removing heavy bike racks or top carriers that cut down on fuel efficiency
A couple of other driving-related savings tips:
- Do what you can to keep up with your car’s maintenance. An inefficient motor, low oil, or misaligned car can burn extra fuel. Make sure to check the oil, gas caps, filters, and tires.
- Traveling? GoogleMaps usually offers a variety of routes to your destination—including the most fuel-efficient one that helps you save gas. Give it a test drive!
- Drive safe. The safer you drive, the less you’ll pay in car insurance. (And don’t forget to shop around for your car insurance at least once a year.)
Driving alternatives to save on gas money
Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the absolute obvious – drive less. Here are some options that cost next to nothing, not to mention some potentially healthy side effects.
- Public transportation
- Ask your boss if you can work from home
- Consider a job closer to home or consider moving closer to your job
The best way to save on gas
Of course, the best way to save on gas is to…drum roll, please…drive less! If you can bundle trips and plan routes in advance, carpool, and seek out gas stations with the lowest gas prices or rewards programs, the more money you’ll save on gas. If you’re about to look for a new car, look for one with good gas mileage. Or better yet, go electric—many states offer incentives for electric car purchases, and you don’t have to go to the pump or battle the ongoing changes in gas prices!
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