How to Save Money on Gas: 25 Tips and Tricks to Save on FuelSave on Bills
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There’s nothing exciting about having to stop for gas, especially since gas prices have been on the rise again.
This is especially true in California, where the gas tax will increase from 41.7¢ per gallon to 47.3¢ per gallon on July 1 (next Monday).
And across the United States, the national average price for a gallon of regular gas has risen from $2 in the beginning of 2016 to $2.82 per gallon as of May of this year, according to data from AAA.
Since not everyone can make the switch to an electric car and gas prices likely won’t be going down anytime soon, we compiled a list of gas-saving tips to help show you how to save money on gas and make the burden of the pump a little more bearable.
Try to use most of these gas saver tips in conjunction with one another to maximize your potential for savings on fuel.
How to Save at Gas Stations
1. Download the GetUpside App and Save 25¢ per Gallon
One of the simplest ways to save money on gas and find cheap gas near you is by using the GetUpside app (click here for our GetUpside promo code for an extra 10¢/gallon sign-up bonus). They partner with local businesses — gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, etc. — to deliver great deals you likely won’t find anywhere else.
With over 5,000+ gas stations that include all the big brands, such as Shell, BP, Exxon, Marathon, Sunoco, etc., you can get up to 25¢ per gallon in the form of cash back. All you do is download the GetUpside app, fill up your car, and snap a picture of your receipt. You’ll earn cash back that you can redeem anytime via PayPal or check.
Learn More: Read our full GetUpside review here.
2. Rewards Credit Cards
Many gas stations offer their own branded credit cards that allow you to save money — usually between 5-10 cents per gallon — every time you fill up, such as the Shell Fuel Rewards card or the ExxonMobil Smart Card.
If you don’t want to have to track down a specific gas station every time you need to fill up, be sure to take a look at our list of the best gas credit cards on the market today.
3. Gas Station Rewards Program
Aside from branded credit cards, many gas stations also offer a rewards program that doesn’t require your credit report to be pulled. It takes just a few minutes to create an account, and then you’ll receive a rewards number you can start using immediately at the pump.
You’ll either get a discount per gallon or rack up points to use on a future purchase. For further savings, enter your rewards number, then swipe your rewards credit card to save at the pump.
Here are some links to major gas station rewards programs:
- Shell Fuel Rewards – save up to 5¢ per gallon.
- Exxon-Mobil Gas Rewards – save up to 15¢ per gallon.
- BP Driver Rewards – save up to 10¢ per gallon.
4. Get Your Gas Early or Later in the Day
Gas stations within the same area typically have prices that are relatively close to one another. To attract more customers, they’ll often lower their prices to beat local competitors, and these big price changes usually takes place earlier in the morning or later in the day while more people are out on the road.
It’s also believed that gas is cooler earlier or later in the day and therefore more dense. As temperatures rise, gas density falls, so you’ll get less of it as you pump. But it is also believed that since the tanks that store the gas at gas stations are usually underground, the fuel should remain cool throughout the day anyway.
5. Get Your Gas Earlier in the Week
According to a recent study by GasBuddy, which uses crowdsourcing to track gas prices, Mondays offer the lowest average price, but it depends what part of the country you’re in.
6. Don’t Use Premium If Your Car Calls for Regular
Unless your car’s manufacturer specifically calls for the use of high-octane fuel, stick to regular. Not only is it usually significantly cheaper, using premium gas in a car that doesn’t require it usually isn’t necessary or beneficial.
7. Check for a Cash Discount
Some gas stations charge less if you pay with cash, since it will allow them to avoid processing fees that can add up with each swipe of a credit card. They’ll usually show this as an option where they advertise their gas prices if it’s something they offer.
Your debit card might not get the same discount as cash, so check with the gas station itself before assuming it does.
Of course, if you have a credit card that gives cash back at gas stations, you should compare the cash back rate you’re getting by using that card vs. the cash discount.
8. Pay for Gas With a Gift Card
There are plenty of ways to go about getting gas station gift cards for free. Through survey sites like Swagbucks and Survey Junkie, for instance, you can take surveys and cash out your earnings for gift cards.
If taking surveys isn’t your thing, Raise allows you to buy discounted gift cards for a variety of stores. Compare the discount of the gift card to what you could earn by using a rewards credit card to determine which will provide you with the most savings.
9. Are You a Member of a Wholesale Club?
These stores usually offer gas at a discount for their members, but you should still shop around to make sure you’re getting the best price.
How to Save on Gas While Driving
10. Accelerate Gradually
Stomping on the gas and racing away from green lights or stop signs burns a lot of gas. It is, after all, called the gas pedal for good reason. The more you press it, the more gas you’re pumping into the engine.
Try getting in the habit of accelerating gradually, and you’ll find that you can get up to speed in no time, all while saving on gas.
11. Try to Avoid Stop-and-Go Traffic
If you can find the most direct route with the least amount of traffic, your vehicle will burn less fuel than if you were constantly stopping, idling, inching forward, stopping, etc.
12. Don’t Ride Others’ Bumpers
Drafting might save you on gas because there’s less resistance for your car thanks to the vehicle ahead of you, but it can be incredibly dangerous.
If you are too close to the vehicle ahead of you, your reaction time drops dramatically. When they brake, you have to brake even harder, and this will require more gas to get back up to speed. Drive at a safe distance, and you can begin braking sooner or less often.
13. Monitor How You Brake
If you see a red light or stop sign approaching, try easing off the gas and coasting until you need to stop in order to save some gas.
Avoid slamming on your brakes at the last second as this will only wear your brake pads faster.
14. Maintain a Proper Speed
Speeding wastes gas, even if it doesn’t involve hard acceleration. Once up to speed on a highway, maintain a steady pace, but make sure to monitor how fast you’re going.
In a test by Consumer Reports, speeding up from 55 mph to 65 mph dropped the fuel economy of the cars tested by 4 to 8 mpg, while speeding up from 65 mph to 75 mph cut fuel efficiency by an additional 5 to 7 mpg, depending on the vehicle.
15. Avoid Idling — Kill the Engine
Simply put, if your car is on, it’s burning gas. With today’s technology, frequent restarts are no longer hard on a car’s engine and battery, so it will actually save you money to turn your car off and back on when you’re ready to use it.
If you’re waiting for a passenger to run into a convenience store, for instance, kill the engine. If you’re stopping for a quick bite to eat, park your car and go inside instead of sitting in line at the drive-thru. If it’s cold outside, warm your car up by driving it instead of letting it idle before you get in.
An idling car uses between 1/5 to 7/10 of a gallon of fuel an hour, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, so any situation that has you sitting longer than 10 seconds you should turn your car off.
16. Don’t Wait Until Your Gas Light Comes on to Fuel Up
Not only will you be stuck paying for whatever gas is readily available to you when it comes time to refuel, waiting until the last possible moment to get gas can be costlier, dangerous, and inconvenient, according to Consumer Reports.
Even if it doesn’t cause damage to something like your fuel pump, getting stranded somewhere and having to pay for a service to come to you to refuel your car will cost far more than what it would have cost you if you had filled up earlier.
17. Reduce Weight
The more weight in your car, the more your engine is going to have to work to lug it around.
You shouldn’t go as far as removing seats, but if you tend to carry around a lot of heavy stuff in your trunk — spare tires, golf clubs, etc. — removing it might help.
18. Improve Your Car’s Aerodynamics
Keeping your windows up will drastically improve your car’s aerodynamics by eliminating wind resistance. When your windows are down, your car has to struggle against the drag caused by wind, putting more strain on your engine, and, therefore, burning more gas.
If you normally drive around with a bike rack in the back or any rack that rests on top of your car, consider removing them to make your car more aerodynamic.
Practice Proper Vehicle Maintenance
19. Check Your Tires
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, keeping your tires properly inflated can improve your gas mileage by 0.6% on average and up to 3% in some cases.
20. Keep Your Engine Tuned
There are numerous parts in your engine that, if defective, can negatively affect your car’s gas mileage.
Though it depends on the type of repair, keeping your engine tuned can improve gas mileage by an average of 4%, while fixing something like a faulty oxygen sensor can improve your gas mileage by as much as 40%, according to the Department of Energy.
21. Replace Your Filters
While replacing a clogged air filter on a car with a carbureted engine can improve both fuel economy and acceleration, replacing an air filter on a car with a fuel-injected engine will likely only improve acceleration.
Either way, keeping your filters clear of dust and debris will allow your car to run more efficiently.
22. Use the Recommended Grade of Oil
You should always use the manufacturer recommended oil for your car, as using the wrong oil can make your engine work harder and waste more gas. You can find this information in your owner’s manual or through a quick search online.
Also keep an eye out while you’re shopping for oil that says “Energy Conserving,” which usually contains additives to reduce friction and improve gas mileage.
23. Dial Down Your Heat and A/C
It can get warm in the car while it’s running, but cranking the air conditioner will cause your car to guzzle gas. The same goes during winter months; blasting hot air is going to take a toll on your fuel supply.
Try parking in the shade if it’s an option during the warmer months or consider investing in a sun shade to keep your car cooler while it’s parked. If it’s too hot while you’re driving, try cracking the window enough to allow air to circulate.
Improve Your Fuel Efficiency
24. Carpool or Use Public Transportation
Having the option for public transportation depends entirely on where you live, and it could even be more expensive than driving, so you’ll have to do some research. Track how much you spend on gas for a month and compare it to something like a bus ticket.
If commuting to work is your biggest gas expense, it might be worth it to see if any coworkers live in your area and if they’ll consider carpooling. You can also use carpooling for extracurricular activities if you have children, as well, and share the driving responsibilities with another parent.
It’s not only better for the environment but also for your wallet.
25. Invest in a More Fuel-Efficient Car
It might seem like buying a new car — when I say new, I mean used — is counterintuitive to saving money, but it’s important to consider long-term spending.
Of course, buying a new (used) car isn’t an option for everyone, but depending on what you currently drive, it might prove to be less expensive in the long run to save up for a car that’s more fuel efficient.
This depends on how much driving you do, but it might be worth it to do some research and see if it makes sense for your financial situation.
Final Thoughts: How to Save Money on Gas
There’s nothing we can do about what we’re forced to pay at the pump, and since gas prices can’t be relied upon to come down anytime soon, it’s important to consider everything we can do as consumers to save money.
Many of these tips can, and should, be used in conjunction with one another to maximize your savings. Being conscious of your driving habits and always looking for the best deal can prove to be an effective approach to saving money on gas.
Matt specializes in financial news, budget travel, banking, and debt. His interest in personal finance took off after eliminating $30,000 in debt in just over a year, and his goal is to help others learn how to get ahead with better money management strategies. A lover of history, Matt hopes to use his passion for storytelling to shine a new light on how people think about money. His work has also been featured on FinanceBuzz and Recruiter.com.