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How to find cheap gas — essential tools and tips for paying less

high gas prices at pump
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Finding cheap gas near you is pretty important, what with the cost of living going through the roof, and gas prices now at record levels. In fact, according to AAA, the national average is now over $4.25 a gallon for regular gasoline. 

In an ideal world we’d be able to take public transit or drive an electric car, but the majority of us still need to buy gas and we don’t want to spend our entire paycheck filling our cars. Here’s some tips and tricks to find cheap gas near you.

Use GasBuddy and the GasBuddy card

gasbuddy on computer monitor

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There are plenty of apps out there that are designed to help find cheap gas near you. But GasBuddy (Android, iOS) is the best known app, letting you search your area for the nearest and cheapest gas pumps. 

Though that’s not all. GasBuddy also offers cashback deals when you spend money on everyday purchases. Those funds are added to your GasBuddy account, and can be redeemed on gas purchases with the GasBuddy Card. Paying with the card can also get you up to $0.25 off each gallon of gas, and doesn’t cost anything to receive or use.

GasBuddy also offers paid subscriptions that promise to offer up to $0.40 off each gallon of gas — with guaranteed savings of $0.20 on your first 50 gallons and $0.05 off afterwards. A GasBuddy Plus subscription costs $8 a month, while a Premium subscription is $10 a month and gets you three roadside assistance calls each year.

Download GasBuddy for Android | iOS 

Use AAA’s gas price monitor

Office building with AAA logo

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AAA is more than just a breakdown service; its website also has a bunch of useful information and tools, including one that lets you check gas prices from state to state, and county to county. The best part? It updates every day, so you know the information is reasonably accurate.

In other words, if you’re in a position where you can cross borders in your search for cheap gas, this is a good place to start. Just be aware that the further you have to drive, the lower the savings will be. So don’t rely on AAA’s tool and only AAA’s tool to fill up your tank

AAA can also calculate the cost of gas over the course of a trip. So you can figure out whether the trip is worth it, or at the very least how much you should expect to pay for it.

AAA gas price monitor | AAA trip cost calculator 

Compare prices with Google Maps and Waze

waze tips and tricks

(Image credit: Waze)

Google Maps and Waze have a lot of information about businesses and locations, but did you know they also keep a record of gas prices? All you need to do is search for “gas station” or tap one of the dedicated search buttons, and both navigation apps will bring up a list of gas stations in your local area.

You can’t sort by gas price, but you can tap each result and see what fuel they sell and how much they cost per gallon. Plus, since both apps are designed for navigation, it only takes a single tap to get directions. Google Maps is also set to choose the most energy-efficient route by default, saving you money by using less gas.

Sadly Apple Maps doesn’t seem to offer this feature, though both Google Maps and Waze are freely available on iPhones.

Download Google Maps for Android | iOS

Download Waze for Android | iOS 

Use GetUpside

Getupside logo on phone screen

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If you want to be able to do more than just compare the price of gas, then GetUpside (iOS, Android) is something you might want to consider. The app gives you the ability to compare gas prices around you, but that’s not its main purpose — instead it’s built around saving money via cashback offers. Unlike some competitors, you don’t need to hand over your bank details in the process.

The idea with GetUpside is that you earn money every time you fill up with gas. While prices may initially be more expensive than nearby gas stations, the fact you’re reclaiming it after the fact could make all the difference. However GetUpside is quick to note that the rapidly-increasing price of gas means cashback offers aren’t as lucrative as they used to be.

But it’s still worth checking out, and figuring out which pump is going to be friendlier on your wallet. Plus, having the app means you can get cashback deals at other businesses, like stores and restaurants.

Download GetUpside for Android | iOS

Get a Costco or Sam’s Club membership 

Sam's Club vs Costco

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Buying in bulk at Costco or Sam’s Club is already a great way to save money, but did you know signing up for a membership can also get you a discount on gasoline?

You can find Costco and Sam’s Club locations across the United States, and a bunch of them also have member-exclusive gas pumps, which are generally cheaper than the rest of the local area. How much you’ll actually pay will vary from location to location.

Sam’s Club (or the pricier Walmart Plus) membership gets you up to $0.05 off a gallon of fuel. Meanwhile Costco sells fuel at wholesale prices, and manages to offer gas that’s consistently cheaper than what you’d pay elsewhere. Of course, the downside is that you have to pay for membership to get these savings.

The cheapest Costco membership is “Gold Star,” and costs $60 a year for two membership cards. That means you and one other person can save on gas for a whole year — as well as have the ability to shop in Costco stores around the world. Don’t forget about the $1.50 hot dogs either.

Right now Sam’s Club is charging $45 for an annual membership, which can be shared with another person, and you’ll be reimbursed with a $45 gift card. In other words, membership is basically free and you gain access to Sam’s Club stores on top of it all. 

Sign up for a Costco membership here

Sign up for a Sam’s Club membership here

Buy gas on the right day

three black gas pump nozzles

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Believe it or not, you may actually be able to save money on gas by buying your fuel on specific days of the week. Combined with some of the other methods for finding cheap gas near you, you could rake in some serious savings.

A recent survey by GasBuddy found that average gas prices were typically lower on Mondays across the majority of the United States. Sunday was the second cheapest, on average, while Thursday and Wednesday are the two most expensive days.  

Consider going electric

dual socket EV charger plugged into black car

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While it’s counterproductive to tell people to ditch gas entirely, rising prices do make the prospect of owning an electric car more enticing. After all, you don’t have to worry about gas prices if your car doesn't use it. 

Electricity is also considerably cheaper than gasoline, even with the rising price of oil, natural gas and other fossil fuels. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average price of gasoline is noticeably higher than the cost of an equivalent amount of electricity in all 50 states.

Electric cars aren't an option for a lot of people, especially with the increased cost of buying electric, but studies do show that EVs are cheaper to run in the long term. With gas prices the way they are, now is as good a time as any to pick up an EV and swap the fuel pump for a charging cable.

Tom Pritchard
Tom Pritchard

Tom is the Tom's Guide's Automotive Editor, which means he can usually be found knee deep in stats the latest and best electric cars, or checking out some sort of driving gadget. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining that Ikea won’t let him buy the stuff he really needs online.