Ways to Save Money On Gas
American households spend an average of $3,000 on gas every year, according to a report by ValuePenguin. This makes transportation the second-largest spending category for the average U.S. family. And with more people heading back into schools and offices these days, your commute is something to add your budget once again.
"During the pandemic, consumers saved a lot of money on gas, since they weren't driving as much, but now that workers are returning to the office and kids are back in school, spending on fuel is back up—and so are prices at the pump," says consumer finance expert Andrea Woroch. And "though gas is an essential expense, the amount you spend every month it isn't fixed," she adds.
The ValuePenguin analysis reports that the average American family spends about $250 on gas every month. Here are tips to save money on gas so you can stay within budget—and maybe even put that money towards other areas of your life.
Use an app such as GasBuddy to compare prices
Before you fill up, make sure you compare gas prices in your area. This might take time and lots of effort, so using an app such as GasBuddy can help make it easier.
"If you want to save money on your gas bills but don't want to drive to a far-off gas station...I recommend using the GasBuddy app," says Dror Zaifman, financial planner and director of digital marketing at fintech company iCASH. The app helps you find the cheapest gas stations in your area, and offers a fuel rewards program that lets you save $0.40 per gallon. Other apps to find cheap gas prices near you include Waze and Gas Guru.
Getting a membership at a warehouse store such as Costco or Sam's Club, where you can get discounted gas, may also be worth it. "Gas at my local Sam's Club in Bakersfield is just $3.89 for regular unleaded while the average local per gallon cost is $4.33—that's nearly a 44-cent per gallon savings right there," says Woroch. Filling up on gas on certain days of the week could also mean lower prices.
Join a gas station rewards program
Join a gas station loyalty program to maximize your savings on gas. "If you regularly fill up your gas tank at Speedway, BP, or another gas station near you, it can be worth it to save 10 or more cents a gallon whenever you fill up," says Tamara Hull, a certified financial educator and writer at Autism Finance Mom. Hull says joining a loyalty program (or a few) is "one of the best ways to reduce your gas costs."
Know which gas stations tend to have the lowest gas prices in your area or on your commute so you can fill up there, suggests Hull. "Saving money on everyday expenses like gasoline helps to free up more funds to reach your bigger financial goals—whether that is saving more for retirement, taking your dream vacation, buying a home, or putting more dollars away for your kids' college," she explains.
Get cashback for gas with your credit card
Using a credit card that lets you earn cashback or points on purchases at gas stations is an easy way to save money on gas. "The most rewarding gas credit cards offer between 2-5% back on gas purchases," says Nathan Grant, senior credit industry analyst at Credit Card Insider. "The American Express Blue Cash Preferred and Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards cards are good places to start your search," says Grant.
He also suggests looking at a credit card that is co-branded with a gas station if you have one brand you frequent, which could lead to even more rewards and savings. Of course, getting approved for the card depends on your credit score and history, but you could stand to save big. Grant suggests finding a gas credit card with no annual fees so you can make the most of your savings as long as you pay your credit off each month so you don't lose money on late fees and interest.
"You can find a list of gas rebate credit cards at CardRates.com, where you can easily compare details and reward programs to find the card that will give you the most back when you fuel up," says Woroch. She also suggests using a credit card comparison tool such as GigaPoints, which analyzes your spending habits and suggests the credit card that will give you the most cash back and points.
Make sure your car is in good condition
Maintaining your car's condition is a good practice overall, and it can help you save money on gas, too. "Address any check-engine lights and make sure you're keeping your car in top condition," says Brittany Kline, a personal finance expert and co-founder of finance site The Savvy Couple. She suggests checking tire pressure regularly, too. "Less air in the tires equals less rolling resistance, which equates to more savings when it comes time to purchase gas," Kline explains.
The way you drive can also affect your savings: "Use your brakes less and use a lighter foot on the gas pedal to get better gas mileage," says Kline. Driving at the speed limit and accelerating more slowly could mean fewer trips to the gas station and more savings.