Pay Less for Gas: Easy Ways to Save Money at the Pump


fuel prices are down significantly since the national average hit a record high of $5.02 a gallon on June 16, but they are still 16% higher than last year at this time. And drivers in California are still paying more than $5.50 a gallon, which costs them about $18 more to fill a 15-gallon tank.

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Increased demand for crude oil in 2022 and reduced supply, partly due to the war in Ukraine both contributed to the persistently higher prices at the pump. While there probably isn’t much you can do about global economic factors, there are some simple steps you can take to save money on gas.

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Read on for price tracker details, tips for improved fuel efficiency, club memberships and more.

Track local prices

GasBuddy is a well-known website for tracking gas prices in the US and Canada. It also provides data for the US Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy gas tracker pages. The pages present the information in different ways – try both to see which you prefer. GasBuddy is available on the web or via mobile apps for Android and iOS, although critics have raised concerns about data tracking and privacy policies.

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A row of petrol pumps and a sign with prices in the upper 300's

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Geico also offers a helpful local gas station tracker: enter an address, city or zip code, and a maximum distance range, and Geico will return a detailed list and map with regular, mid-range, and premium gas prices and directions to gas stations.

AAA offers a gas price tracker on its mobile app (Android, iOS), as does Gas Guru (Android, iOS), and you can check gas prices in your area using navigation apps like Waze and Google Maps.

Recover money from fuel cards and fuel reward programs

Typically large gas stations offer credit cards and rewards programs that give you a percentage back. Speedy Rewards offers a $25 gift card when you reach 500 points or 50 gallons of gas. At $5 a gallon, that’s 10% on your gas expenses.

Shell and BP claim their respective bounty programs will save you at least 5 cents a gallon, and ExxonMobil says you’ll save at least 3 cents off. Be sure to check the terms of each program to see exactly what percentage of your gas spend you’re getting back.

Supermarket chains also offer rewards programs: for every $100 you spend on groceries at Safeway or Kroger For example, you get a 10 cent discount on petrol the next time you fill up. Kroger works with Shell and Kroger Fuel Centers, while Safeway’s program works at Chevron, Texaco and Safeway fuel stations.

Pay for gas with cash

A GasBuddy screen showing lower prices for cash than credit

GasBuddy will display both credit and cash prices when there is a difference.

Screenshot by Peter Butler/CNET

The practice of charging less gas for customers who pay cash varies by region and gas station: In Los Angeles, several gas stations offer a 20-cent discount for cash, particularly for premium gas.

That difference can add up quickly: you could save $3 every time you fill a 15-gallon tank to the top, or $156 a year if you fill up weekly. (Just watch out for the ATM fees: if you’re paying $2-$3 every time to get your cash, you could be losing money.)

Check your tire pressure

Making sure your tires are properly inflated can increase gas mileage by 3%, according to the US Department of Energy. At current prices, that could save you about 15 cents a gallon.

But 60% of car owners only check their tire pressure when an indicator light comes on, according to Jiffy Lube’s Vehicle Maintenance Survey. A tire pressure gauge can monitor the condition of your tires and only costs around $10 to $20.

When tires are worn to a depth of 1/16 inch, they are considered “bare” and should be replaced immediately.

A recommended fuel-efficient trip

Google Maps recommends routes designed to save gas.

Screenshot by Cliff Colby/CNET

Plan your route

Google Maps can also increase your miles per gallon by recommending specific routes that avoid hills and traffic, ideally resulting in more consistent driving speeds. Fuel-efficient routes are available on the Android and iOS mobile apps, although the feature hasn’t rolled out to all users yet.

To enable fuel efficiency on Google Maps, tap the three dots on the directions screen, then tap “Route options” and toggle on the “Prefer fuel-efficient routes” option.

Other fuel tracking mobile apps like Fuelio and JerryCan suggest ways to improve your fuel efficiency as well as track gas prices at gas stations. JerryCan claims that drivers using its app can improve their fuel efficiency by up to 20%.

Try a club membership for discounted gas prices

costco, Sam’s club and WalmartPlus All offer discounted gas prices to members. Walmart Plus is 5 cents less at its gas stations and has access to all Sam’s Club locations. Membership costs $13 per month or $98 per year, while Sam’s Club memberships range from $45 to $100 per year.

Costco fuel prices are almost always significantly lower than at traditional gas stations, generally around five to 25 cents, according to Consumer Reports. His June 10 gas price review found a 34-cent discount on Costco gas in Independence, Missouri, compared to the nearest commercial gas station. Costco memberships range from $60 to $120 per year.

Attention: Due to the nationwide record prices Gas lines at Costco has become notoriously long.

Buy discounted fuel cards through resellers

Gift cards are a popular choice for simple gifts, but as you might expect, not all of these gift cards are used. A variety of resellers let consumers block their unused gift cards or buy them cheaply.

To lift and Gift card Grandma are two websites that allow users to buy and sell unused gift cards from Chevon, Texaco, Shell, BP and other gas suppliers. As you might have guessed, most discounted gas gift cards are currently sold out, but you can set up alerts when new ones arrive.

Be sure to check the actual discount and other specifics of each card – both sites also sell gift cards at retail prices, and Gift Card Granny also sells reward cards.

Become a champion of fuel efficiency

You can make gas consumption a little easier by learning the basics fuel efficiency practices. Advice on saving fuel while driving abounds on the internet, and AAA has put together some great tips. Here are some of the biggest savers:

  • Drive the maximum speed, especially on the highway. Fuel consumption drops sharply as soon as you drive faster than 80 km/h.
  • Reduce acceleration. “Jackrabbit starts” – when a car lurches forward very quickly – is a huge waste of gas. Smooth acceleration also allows automatic transmissions to shift into higher gears sooner, saving more fuel.
  • Avoid prolonged idling. You’re not going anywhere while you’re burning your gas. If it lasts longer than 60 seconds, turn off your engine.
  • Minimize air conditioning. Even at high speeds, open windows hurt your fuel efficiency less than air conditioning. Park in the shade or use a windshield to keep your car as cool as possible in the summer.
  • When driving in the city, schedule traffic lights so you don’t have to stop and start. Similarly, take your foot off the accelerator as soon as you see a red light or near a stop sign. The less braking and accelerating, the more fuel you save.

Go even further with Hypermiling

Hypermiling is the practice of maximizing fuel efficiency to the utmost degree, from choosing routes that require less braking and acceleration to cleaning your trunk to reduce your vehicle’s weight.

Hypermilers may even park facing the sun when it’s cold to conserve energy used to defrost their windshield, and in the shade when it’s chilly to conserve air conditioning.

In the video below, CNET’s Brian Cooley explains how drivers can adapt extreme hypermiling techniques to improve their own fuel efficiency.

Think of bicycles, public transport and electric vehicles

Rising gasoline prices offer a timely opportunity to wean ourselves off gasoline-based transportation. If you cycle more often or use public transport, you will obviously reduce your gas costs.

Likewise, if you can afford an electric vehicle, it will certainly reduce your gas consumption. It’s not just Tesla — Hyundai, Ford, Porsche, Audi, and many other automakers are selling electric cars. Bonus: You’ll fight pollution and climate change while saving money.

Cash List of the best electric vehicles from CNET Cars to learn more about the latest and greatest electric cars.

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