As of September 19, 2023, the current national average for a gallon of regular gas was $3.880. This is an increase of about $0.20 from last year, but if you have a car, you know prices can go up and down day-to-day and week-to-week. While we aren’t at the peak price of $5.01 (as it was in June 2022), filling up the gas tank still isn’t cheap.
Here are 10 easy ways to help you save money on gas, keeping your car on the road but dollars in your wallet.
1. CREDIT CARD PERKS
Many credit cards have rewards programs that offer cash back, points, or miles on certain purchases. While some offer a flat rate, like 1% or 1.5%, on all purchases, others have bonus categories that offer more rewards. Oftentimes, “gas” is included in those bonus categories. You could earn up to 5% or more rewards using your credit card each time you go to the pump. Check your current card to learn more about your rewards program. Or, if you’re shopping for a new card, look for one that includes gas in the bonus categories with higher rewards rates.
2. GAS STATION LOYALTY PROGRAMS
Some gas stations and grocery stores have loyalty programs that give you discounts at the pump for buying stuff you have to buy anyway. Typically, these are completely free and all you have to do is make purchases as you normally would (on groceries, gas, or convenience store items) and you’ll get a discount per gallon. In some cases, you might have to sign up for the rewards card, but it’s almost always worth it.
3. SHOP AROUND FOR THE BEST PRICES
Sometimes the gas tank light comes on and you just need to stop at the nearest station. But other times, you may be able to plan ahead and use apps like GasBuddy or Waze, which use your local area to find the cheapest gas around. Or, pay particular attention to gas stations you pass each day to see which offer the lowest prices, so you know where to go when you need a fill-up.
4. COMBINE ERRANDS
Stop at the grocery store on your way home from work or run to the post office after you drop the kids at school. Meal prep and make lists before you go shopping to make sure you get everything you need in one trip. The fewer trips you make running errands, the less you’ll pay in gas.
5. KEEP YOUR TIRES INFLATED
Underinflating can actually hurt your gas mileage. The U.S. Department of Energy says that for every 1 psi missing from your car’s set of tires, you lose 0.1% of your gas mileage. Each PSI lost also means your tires wear 10x faster. By properly inflating your tires, you can improve your gas mileage by 3.3% or more.
6. GET A WAREHOUSE MEMBERSHIP
Bulk-buy stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, and BJ’s offer cheaper gas to their members compared to regular gas stations. While the membership isn’t free, it might be worth it depending on how much you drive. Calculate how much you’d save each time you fill up and how many times you’d have to fill your tank to pay for the membership to see if it makes sense. Or, if you’re already a member, make sure to take advantage of that extra savings.
7. FILL UP ON MONDAYS
Mondays are often the cheapest day of the week to fill up your tank, followed by Fridays. Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays are historically the costliest.
8. TURN OFF YOUR CAR WHILE WAITING
If you’re not actually driving your car, turn it off. Those five minutes waiting while you pick up a friend or 15 minutes in the school pickup line can be a big gas waster, because you’re using gas even if you’re not driving anywhere.
9. USE CRUISE CONTROL
If you’re spending a lot of time on the highways, turning on your cruise control can actually save you gas. Cruise control can help you be more fuel-efficient and can save you an average of 7% – 14% on gas thanks to its ability to maintain a continuous speed. Comparatively, constantly accelerating and decelerating on the pedal can eat up more gas faster.
10. BUY REGULAR UNLEADED
Unless your car specifically requires premium gas, you can use regular unleaded. Switching to this is probably the easiest way to save money on gas, and you could save up to $0.50 per gallon or more. Most drivers don’t notice the difference, but before making the change, double-check that using unleaded isn’t going to be a problem for your car. If you’re shopping for a car, remember that premium-only gas will mean a bigger expense.