So gasoline is at all time highs. No real surprises there. When the world’s 3rd largest oil producer decides to invade another country for no good reason, one should expect these kinds of price changes. Personally, I’m not complaining too much. I’d rather pay more to fill up my car as I go about my normal life than be hiding in a bomb shelter. Even while recognizing we are in a much better situation than the people of Ukraine, it can still suck when so much of your money is going into a fuel tank. So, in the spirit of saving your hard earned dolla dolla bills, here are 8 ways to save on gas. And none of them are carpooling. Or riding your bike (it’s still winter here in Wisconsin, that’s a stupid suggestion).
1. Maximize your rewards
Unless you’re using the cash envelope style of budging – absolutely nothing wrong with that! – you’re probably swiping some kind of plastic to pay for your gas. You can use this to your advantage. I personally have a separate card I use when paying at the pump. This allows me to find a card that offered the highest rewards on gas. I prefer cash-back, but you might be after travel points or other rewards. Pull up that search bar and find something that fits for you.
Take a look at your recent fill-ups and find out if any of those stations offer rewards points of their own. Often you can sign up to receive a couple cents off every gallon just for being loyal to one brand. Commit to that station or brand to maximize what you get. A couple cents may not seem like a huge difference, but it can add up.
If you really want to go for a gold star and triple-dip your rewards option, GetUpside is a cash-back app that rewards you for filling-up at many major gas stations. (This isn’t a recommendation on my part, I’m just sharing the info. Keep in mind, that the app is free. Which means the product they’re selling is your information. But it’s one way to get even more money back.)
2. Don’t use a debit card
Kind of jumping off from the above, most debit cards don’t earn rewards. After the financial crisis of ’08-’09, laws were put into place that limit how much a bank can earn off debit card transactions. And if a bank can’t earn off of them, they won’t give back to you. The business case just isn’t there. As long as you can be responsible with a credit card (big “if” there, and that’s okay!), it makes more sense to get credit card points.
If you don’t trust yourself with a CC, or just don’t want to use one, many gas stations will give you a discount for using cash. The discount is usually 5-10 cents per gallon. It can actually add up to more savings than you would have earned in rewards by using a rewards credit card. This is a place where it could pay to do the math.
Outside of maximizing your rewards, credit cards have better fraud protection. And, you know, cash doesn’t really have any liability at all.
3. Use a price comparison tool
There’s some planning involved in this. Please only do this while your car is parked. Do not use an app and drive. This has been a Public Service Message.
One of the easiest ways to save on gas? Pay less in the first place. There are tons of resources out there for finding which station has the cheapest gas prices near you. The US government even runs a site. Let the power of the internet work for good.
4. Fill up on Monday
Thanks to the above mentioned gas tracker apps, we can see that Mondays tend to be the “cheapest” day to fill up the tank. Thursdays are the worst. I know time has no meaning thanks to the pandemic, but pay attention to the calendar when you go to the pump.
5. Don’t want until you’re seeing E
Just like how in investing we don’t want to be forced to sell at a low price, here you don’t want to be forced to buy at a high price. Think ahead to keep your options open.
6. Route it out
Have you ever noticed how FedEx, UPS, and Post Office drivers always seem to take a lot of right-hand turns? That’s because they’re maximizing their driving. Delivery companies figured out a long time ago that making left turns means more time sitting at intersections and wastes fuel. This little trick saves the organizations millions of gallons of fuel.
Besides making as many right turns as possible, you should also try to plan out where you’re going. It wastes your time and your gas to bop from one side of town to another and back when you could have consolidated trips. Make it a game to make life as convenient as possible for yourself.
7. Ease up on the lead foot
Not driving like a maniac can also help your fuel efficiency (according to my brother, I’m very guilty of this one. Oops). Rapid acceleration and hard braking can drop your mpg anywhere from 10-40%. Additionally — according to that same institute that attacks my driving style — most cars reach max fuel efficiency at around 50 mph. Every 5 mph above that costs you in efficiency and money. You can check out exactly how much going fast costs your vehicle via this nifty “What is the penalty to my car” calculator. Note to self: be more kind to those drivers doing the speed limit on the highway. I guess.
8. Take care of your ride
Keeping up with basic maintenance on your car helps it run better. Get that oil changed and those filters cleaned when you’re supposed to to keep that engine purring. And keep an eye on your tire pressure. Having under-inflated tires will hurt your miles-per-gallon. You should be able to find the recommended tire pressure for your car on the inside of your driver’s side door. And before you get any ideas, over-inflating your tires does not get you better mileage. But over inflating your tires will mess with your car’s handling. So don’t overfill.
And there you have it! 8 ways to save on gas.