Driving across town to meet a friend just got expensive and road trips aren’t necessarily the more affordable form of travel at the moment. Gas prices are soaring. AAA regularly reports national gas prices, and currently shows that “low” prices are hovering just below $4 per gallon. In some areas, gas is nearing $6 a gallon. The national average at the time of publish is $4.316.
For some, this price increase is an inconvenience. It means saving a little less money this month. For others, it means having to say no to certain appointments, activities, opportunities and beyond. Some households simply cannot afford to pay the current gas prices. However, if you don’t have the luxury to stay home from work either and public transit is isn’t an option, you don’t have much of a choice but to hit the pricey pumps. Here are ways to save money on gas now (even when it feels impossible).
Pair Gas with a Car Wash
Many car washes offer deeply discounted gas when you purchase it with a wash. You can’t cash in on the fuel prices alone – you will need to get your vehicle clean and shiny. Next time your car is ready for a bath, Google or call around to local car washes and ask how they might help you save money on gas. Some gas stations with drive-thru car washes also offer a discount on gas when you purchase a car wash with them.
Consider Your Grocery Store Choice
While food prices also continue to rise, there is one saving grace: the more you spend at (some) grocery stores, the more you save money on gas. Many major grocery stores like Kroger, Safeway and their sister brands have gas rewards programs. Ralphs, which is owned by Kroger, gives reward members one fuel reward point for every dollar spent. If you buy all of your groceries from the same participating grocery store, those points really add up and can save you anywhere from 20 cents to 70 cents per gallon at the pump.
Roll the Windows Down
As summer approaches and temperatures are high, the temptation to blast your car AC is just as high. Do remember that constantly running your car’s air conditioner negatively impacts fuel economy. If you can, consider simply rolling down the windows for cool air and leaving the AC off. Understandably, there are times when using the AC is inevitable, but try being more conscientious about when you turn it on. This practice will save money on gas.
Pay with Cash
Almost every gas station offers you a better price on fuel if you pay in cash. So don’t forget to keep some bills on hand to save money on gas. If running by a bank is a pain, remember that you can get cashback when grocery shopping – so you get some cost-cutting cash while loading up those fuel rewards points.
Find Credit Cards with Cashback Deals
Some credit cards have rotating five percent cashback categories. Explore your card’s rewards program to see if this is an option. The way it works for many cards is this: they have a calendar of categories. January through March might be five percent cash back at grocery stores, April through June is five percent back at gas stations, and so on. So, the more you at the pump, the more you save money on gas in the future. Be sure to remember to use the appropriate card during the appropriate season. Set calendar reminders to switch to the right card on time.
Download These Apps
There are tons of apps that help you save money on gas. Get Upside is an app that shows you deals – from grocery stores to restaurants to gas — based on your geographical location. All you do is load limited credit card info to the app, claim the deal, and the app deposits a designated amount of cashback within a couple of days after your purchase. GasBuddy is also a great app for seeing nearby gas prices based on your location. The AAA mobile app additionally helps you locate affordable gas in your area.
Become a Costco Member
While this option might not be the most reasonable for everyone, if you’ve been meaning to become a Costco member, now could be the time to do it. Costco members can see gas prices as low as 60 cents less per gallon compared to local competitors. If you need to buy in bulk and doing so will mean real savings for your home, then becoming a Costco member should save you money on groceries, home goods and gas.
Buy Discounted Gift Cards
People regularly get gift cards they don’t need and that they want to turn into cash. So, they sell them at a discounted price on a site like CardCash, Cardpool, Giftcards.com and Raise. Here you might find a $50 gas card for $40, or similar deals. Your credit card might offer discounts on gift cards purchased through the rewards portal, too. So for example, 2,500 points could be turned into $25 cashback, or $30 when spent in the rewards portal. If you can buy a gas gift card this way, you could save money on gas.
Avoid Filling Up On Weekends
GasBuddy releases a regular report showing which days of the week are the most expensive and most affordable for filling up. Not surprisingly, weekends are the most expensive, because that’s when everyone makes time to get gas. If you can fit it in your schedule, filling up on a Monday or Tuesday could mean the biggest savings.
Lighten Your Load
The heavier your vehicle, the worse fuel economy you get. So if you’ve been carting around boxes of old kitchen appliances or furniture you’ve been meaning to donate it, it’s time to get rid of it. Speaking of extra weight, if you often give friends rides, it could be time to ask them to pitch in at the pump to help you save money on gas. Their bodies are literally making your car use more fuel.