Going to the gas station to fill your car up can be a harrowing experience. How can it really be that much to fill up your tank?! But believe it or not there are some tips and tricks to help you save at the pump. We’ve compiled the best advice out there on how to save big when you fill up. After all, with the price of gas lately, it’s definitely about the destination and not about the journey.
Here are our top tips to save you money the next time you are at the gas station.
Use a Gas App
Did you know there are apps specifically designed to save you money at the gas station? Apps such as GasBuddy and Gas Guru track gas prices and can tell you which stations in your town or along your commute have the best prices.
In general, gas is cheaper off the beaten path. You will pay more at stations that are right off of the interstate or smack dab in the middle of your city. Also, if you live along a state line gas might be cheaper in another state. Using these gas apps can help you determine where you will get the best deal.
Join a Gas Rewards Program
There are a ton of loyalty programs out there for everything under the sun, including gas. The best rewards programs out there are tied to one specific brand. Here are some of the most popular programs:
- BPme program: This can be used at both BP and Amoco stations. When you register, you get 5 cents off every gallon for the first month. After that you can get the same discount by spending at least $100 per month on gas.
- Exxon Mobil Rewards+: The Exxon Mobil Rewards+ program gives you 3 points per gallon on fuel and 2 points per $1.00 you spend at their convenience store. For every 100 points you earn, you get $1.00 off of your gas purchase.
- Circle K Easy Rewards: For every gallon of fuel you buy at a Circle K you earn 10 points. For every dollar you spend in a Circle K store, you earn 20 points. Once you earn 2,000 points, you will save $2.00 at the pump.
Most gas brands offer rewards programs these days, so if you find yourself frequenting one brand, look to become a member of their program.
Get a Credit Card with Gas Rewards
Many credit cards out there have cash back incentives, and certain cards are best for fueling up. Here are some of the top gas reward credit cards:
- Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Credit Card: This card gives you 3% cash back in a category of your choice, such as gas (up to $2500). The gas does not need to be from a particular brand either. In addition you get 2% back on groceries and 1% back on everything else.
- Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: This card gives 3% cash back at gas stations, as well as other travel related expenses such as taxis, bus tickets, and subways.
If you drive a lot, it makes sense to get a gas rewards credit card. Be sure to do your research though–many credit cards out there only offer the higher rewards for the first year or so, and then the reward points decrease drastically.
Fill Up Earlier in the Week
Filling your tank up earlier in the week may be a surprising way you can save money at the pump. According to GasBuddy, gas prices tend to be lower on Mondays and Tuesdays. If you can plan your fill-ups ahead of time, you will avoid being forced to go to the closest gas station (which is most likely not the cheapest gas station).
Take Care of Your Car
Good car maintenance can actually help you use less gas. Here are some basic maintenance and upkeep tips that may help your fuel efficiently and save you some money in the long run.
- Check your tire pressure. Underinflated tires can reduce your fuel efficiency a good deal. Experts recommend that you check your tire pressure once a month and make sure it is within the specified range in your owner’s manual. Keeping your tires at the correct pressure can improve your gas mileage by as much as 3.3%. Correct tire pressure will also lengthen the life of your tires.
- Make sure you are using the right oil. Check your owner’s manual to ensure that you are using the correct type of oil. Using the wrong oil not only adversely affects your gas mileage, but it can cause your engine to wear faster.
- Get routine oil changes. As oil breaks down, it forces the engine to work harder, which increases the amount of gasoline that is used. The longer you go in between oil changes, the more gas you will waste. In the past, it was recommended to get an oil change every six months or 3,000 miles, but with advances in synthetic lubricants it is now suggested between 5,000 and 7,000 miles. Check with the manufacturer or a trusted mechanic to find out what is best for your car.
- Replace your air filters. Clogged air filters can significantly decrease gas mileage. In general they should be changed once a year, or every 15,000-30,000 miles, but check your owner’s manual to see what the manufacturer recommends.
- Check your spark plugs. You should get your car tuned up a few times a year. During this routine checkup, they can check and replace any bad spark plugs. A bad spark plug can reduce fuel economy by as much as 30%.
- Make sure your gas cap is securely fastened. If your gas cap doesn’t fit snugly or is not screwed in properly, you could be losing gas to evaporation. Make sure there is a good fit and that it is resecured properly every time you fill up at the tank.
- Lighten your load. The lighter your car is, the higher your fuel efficiency will be. Getting rid of unnecessary weight including roof racks and bike racks can help you save some cents at the pump.
Change Up Your Driving Habits
If you are serious about improving your fuel economy, there are some simple changes you can make to your driving habits that can save you money.
- Plan your routes strategically. Instead of going out multiple times during the day or week to run errands, try to hit all of your errands that are in the same location at once. Look at GoogleMaps or Waze to determine the most cost-efficient way to get to your destinations. A little planning will go a long way.
- Reduce your Heater and Air Conditioning Use. Depending on where you live, this might be a hard one. Reducing the use of the heater and air conditioner can significantly increase your fuel efficiency. It is up for debate if the fuel being used for air conditioning at a high speed is offset by the amount the car slows down with the windows open. But if you are driving around town, windows are definitely the more fuel efficient option.
- Slow Down. It’s hard to let off the gas pedal at times, but reducing your speed can help your gas mileage significantly. Once your car goes over 50 miles per hour, the drag on your car starts to take a toll. It is estimated that you can lose up to $.25 per gallon for every 5 miles per hour you drive over 50 miles per hour. This can add up quickly at the pump if you are zipping around town at 70 or 80 miles per hour.
- Cruise Control When Possible. If you are driving on the highway or for a long stretch, switch to cruise control. Maintaining a steady speed is much better for gas mileage than constantly changing speeds.
- Accelerate Gradually. Pedal to the metal wastes gas, unfortunately. The more you ease into an acceleration, the better your gas mileage will be.
Skip the Premium, If You Can
If your car manual doesn’t specifically say that it requires premium, you are not only wasting your money but potentially hurting your car. Premium gas has a higher octane rating, which means that it resists pre ignition more than regular gas. Only high performance engines require higher octane gas. Opting for regular gas instead will save you a good deal in the long run.
Those are the best ways to save money at the gas pump.
We hope these tips will help you save your hard earned money. After all, that cash is always better in your pocket than in someone else’s pocket. If saving money is your ultimate goal, consider refinancing your car with Auto Approve.
Our finance gurus are here to help you find the best APR possible and reduce your monthly auto loan payments. Get a quote or call today to find out just how much money we can save you!