How to Save Money on Gas: Reduce Your Transportation Expenses
Aside from housing and food, transportation can be one of the biggest line items on your budget. While you can’t control how long you commute to work or when running errands, you can still save money on gas. Keep reading for a bunch of tips you can implement today.
1. Watch Your Driving Habits
As much as we’d all love to put the pedal to the metal, driving fast can increase fuel consumption since it increases drag. That means it’s probably a good idea to stay within the speed limit and not accelerate quickly so you’re being more efficient with gas.
On that same vein, watch how you stop your car as well. If you break excessively, it can waste gas as well–saving you from filling your tank as often. Just a suggestion: see if you can maintain a longer distance between you and the car ahead of you so you don’t have to constantly brake, especially in heavy traffic.
2. Drive Less
Yes, it’s common sense, but driving less can save you on gas. Of course it’s not always possible if you drive to work. However, there are ways to be creative.
For example, maybe you can leave work a bit earlier and ride a bike (or electric scooter). Or you have a coworker that lives in your neighborhood–you two can carpool.
For errands, try to do it all in one trip with the distance between errands as close as possible. If you live nearby where you need to go, see if you can walk there, weather permitting.
3. Sign Up For Fuel Rewards
Some gas stations offer brand loyalty programs that offer discounts on gas every time you fill up–typically a few cents off per gallon.
Some also partner up with other companies where you can earn points towards gas discounts when you shop at these partner brands. For example, if a gas station partnered up with a supermarket, you can earn points towards gas each time you shop at the grocery store.
4. Take Advantage of Rewards Credit Cards
Using rewards credit cards that offer you a higher rewards earnings rate for gas is one of the best ways to earn more cash back on your purchases. Depending on the card, you can earn statement credits, points towards gift cards or travel and even straight-up cash back.
Here are a few of our favorites:
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express – Although there is a $95 ($0 introductory annual fee in the first year) Annual Fee, you can earn an impressive 3% cash back on purchases at U.S. gas stations. Plus, if you spend $3,000 on qualifying purchases within the first six months of account opening, you can earn a $250 statement credit. Terms Apply. Read more on this credit card offer here.
Chase Freedom Unlimited® – You earn a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases, making it an ideal card if you want simplicity in earnings. As an intro offer you can earn an additional 1.5% cash back on purchases (up to $20,000 in the first year) – worth up to $300 cash back! Read more on this credit card offer here.
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card – Like the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, you earn a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases with no annual fee. Earn a one-time $200 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening. Read more on this credit card offer here.
5. Get a Gas App
Have a smartphone? Well you can use it to save you money at the gas station. These gas stations scan your immediate area to compare prices so you can find the cheapest option.
Some are only on Android or iOS, but we’ve found a few that can work across multiple platforms:
- AroundMe – This app helps you find the cheapest gas plus other things like pharmacies and movie tickets. You can download it for free but if you want an ad-free version, it’ll set you back $2.99.
- Gas Station & Fuel Finder – This app compiles a list of gas stations near you that has the cheapest gas. Once you find a location you want, click on the listing and the help will help with navigation. It’s free but the ad-free version is $2.99
- GasBuddy – One of the more well-known apps, it relies on a community of users to provide updates on gas prices. It’ll show you the closest and cheapest gas stations. The premium version called Pay With GasBuddy gives you the opportunity to receive 24/7 roadside assistance and save up to $0.20 per gallon.
6. Get Free or Discount Gift Cards
There are plenty of websites that offer gift cards at a fraction of the price of what you’ll pay at a regular retailer. Discounts can vary, so it’s probably a good idea to check these places regularly to see what’s on offer.
Here are some places to check out:
- Cardpool – Cardpool allows you to buy gift cards at a discount or sell them at up to 92% of their value.
- Raise.com – Raise calls themselves an online gift card marketplace where you can sell your gift cards for cash or purchase discount gift cards from major retailers like gas stations.
- Bonus tip: you can try to combine paying for gas using your loyalty card and gift card after using your rewards card–you can earn points and extra discounts. Or, combine your loyalty card plus rewards credit card for discounts as well.
In addition, some websites give you the opportunity to earn points towards gift cards. One you sign up for a free membership, you can start earning points from activities you already do like conducting online searches, playing games and watching TV.
One such website is Swagbucks. In fact, if you sign up as a new member, you can get up to $10 as a bonus.
7. Avoid Gas Stations Near the Highway and Tourist Traps
Filling up along rest stops at highways or close to the exit tends to be pricier than ones a little farther away. Same goes for areas that are known to be touristy. It’s not always possible, but see if you can drive a little farther to find a cheaper gas station, or head to a smaller town where prices tend to be lower.
Another way to avoid being forced to pay inflated prices is to make sure your tank is pretty full. As in, don’t wait until the tank is near empty to start looking for a gas station. If so, you’ll probably be stuck with whatever gas station you see first–you’ll be at the mercy of their prices.
Bottom Line: All it takes is some creativity, a smart plan and you can reduce your transportation expenses.