High demand, limits to crude oil supply and distribution problems caused gas prices to soar sky-high in the past year. So it definitely helps to know how to save money on gas.
After retail gas hit a high of $5.03 per gallon in June, the average gas price for all grades dropped to $4.67 per gallon in July (opens in new tab). Still, that's 45% higher than just a year ago.
Although retail gas rates are also forecasted to continue decreasing through 2022 and are projected to average $3.57 in 2023, filing up could still be a real budget buster until the cost per gallon returns to a relatively normal level.
The good news is that these savings tips and hacks below could help you save money at the pump.
Sign up for gas rewards program at your grocery store
Multiple grocery stores have shopping rewards programs that provide gas discounts. For example, GIANT has the GIANT Choice Rewards (opens in new tab) program that gives members one point for each dollar spent at the grocery store.
Every 100 points you earn qualifies you for a $0.10 per gallon discount when you fill up at GIANT stores and other Shell gas stations.
If you have a large family or spend over $100 each week at the supermarket, those points racked up could provide significant savings at the pump.
Safeway (opens in new tab), Kroger (opens in new tab), Harris Teeter (opens in new tab) and Stop & Shop (opens in new tab) are other grocery stores that offer fuel discount programs.
Find stations that offer “pay with cash” discounts
In some states, gas stations can offer discounts if you pay in cash. This discount is because gas stations get around the merchant transaction fee if you use cash instead of debit or credit.
Availability of cash discounts will vary, but they may be marketed in states like Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts on the East Coast.
Fill up at discount warehouse fuel centers
Drive by a Costco (opens in new tab) or Sam’s Club (opens in new tab), and you might notice gas is 5 to 30 cents cheaper than at other local stations.
That’s because warehouse retailers make their money from memberships and in-store shopping, which gives them the flexibility to offer discounts at the pump as a tactic to attract new and loyal customers.
Getting a warehouse membership for $40 to $60 per year could be worth the savings you can pocket on cheap gas.
Download a gas savings app
Several gas savings apps help drivers find cheap gas on their commute. Here are a few options to consider that are all free to download and use:
- Fuelio (opens in new tab): Fuelio is a fuel consumption tracker and gas savings finder rolled into one. Drivers can use the app to track fuel costs and mileage. Plus, the app will show you gas prices at stations near you so you can shop for cheap deals.
- GasBuddy (opens in new tab): GasBuddy shows you where cheap gas is and offers gas maps and gas charts so you can review trends. If you sign up for the GasBuddy card and use it to pay for gas, you could also qualify for discounts of up to 25 cents per gallon.
- Gas Guru (opens in new tab): Gas Guru also helps drivers find cheap gas stations, and you can save locations to keep updated on prices.
- Waze (opens in new tab): Waze is known for helping drivers get around traffic and traffic hazards, but you can also use the app to navigate to stations with affordable gas.
It’s worth noting that app platforms may rely on gas data shared by other users to help you find cheap gas, so the accuracy of the prices depends on the frequency drivers update prices. If the app isn’t highly adopted or used in your area, you might find that gas prices are incorrect or not available.
Apply for a gas rewards credit card
Gas rewards credit cards give you a certain number of points, miles or cash back each time you buy gas on your credit card. You can then trade those rewards earned for statement credits to offset gas costs or redeem rewards for gift cards, travel and more.
Credit card rewards opportunities can vary, so it’s always a good idea to compare options before settling on a card. Some cards also have an annual fee to watch out for, and credit cards typically charge interest if you don’t pay off your bill each month.
To get the most value from a rewards credit card, you should pay off your balance in full each month to avoid interest and ensure the rewards you earn will exceed the fee. For example, if a credit card’s fee is $99 per year, you need to make sure you will earn rewards worth over $99 each year for the card to be cost-effective.
Drive slower and pack lighter
Changing your driving habits could help you lower your gas consumption. If your car uses less fuel, you’ll need to fill up the tank less frequently.
Accelerating often and speeding can decrease the miles you get per gallon. Slowing down or using cruise control on highways to maintain speed could help you conserve fuel.
Lightening your load is another way to help lower gas consumption, so consider taking bikes off your roof, removing items from the truck bed or emptying your backseat.
Don’t leave the engine running
Idling your car wastes fuel, especially if you have a large vehicle. Whenever possible, turn off your car to conserve fuel.
This could mean not leaving the car running while packing up or turning off your vehicle when handling school pickups. Small changes could lead to better fuel efficiency and less money spent.
How to save money on gas: Bottom line
Working remotely, biking to work (or scootering) and investing in a monthly transit pass are other ways to eliminate gas from your budget altogether. But in situations where driving is unavoidable, using the strategies above could help you keep gas costs manageable until prices drop.
The best part is that most of the options on this list are free, except for the warehouse membership and rewards credit card if you choose one that has an annual fee.
Ultimately, we can’t control gas prices, but savvy shopping can help lessen its impact on our wallets.