But when we stop at the gas station on our way out of town, we may just want to turn the car around and head home. The good news is gas prices are at an all-time low for the year. It may not seem like it, but the average of $2.24 right now is already good news. Maybe not good enough news for a cross-country road trip, though. Don't worry; there are plenty of ways to get a deal good enough to make you want to hit the highway again.
Sign up for your favorite gas station's version of e-check/instant pay/debit card:
Gas stations pay a fortune in credit card company fees, but don't pay as much for debit card payments. When you use a debit card they save money. Many gas stations are passing the savings on to you with discounts per gallon when you sign up to pay with their branded debit card. Most of these are not full debit cards that can be used anywhere; rather they are only usable for gas at that specific station.
You're more likely to stop at their gas station for the discount, which helps you both out. There is an application process for these but it isn't based on credit like a credit card application, so it's more of a formality to get the information attached to the card. Grab an application in-store and apply online.
- Savings Potential: Up to 10 cents off per gallon
Sign up for loyalty programs:
Many gas stations have partnered with local grocery stores to offer fuel discounts based on how much you spend at the grocery store in a given month. These are great programs because we have to buy groceries anyway, so we might as well be racking up fuel discounts. Most programs simply require a name and address in exchange for a loyalty card. The loyalty card is swiped before making purchases at the grocery store, and your fuel rewards will be printed at the bottom of the receipt. Each program works differently, but most have a cap on the dollar amount discount you can receive (and won't let you get cash back if your discount goes above the price of gas).
They also tend to have a 30-gallon per-fill-up limit. But a discount is a discount. For instance, if a family spends $400 on groceries a month and the card allows 10 cents off per gallon for every $100 spent, that's 40 cents off per gallon, bringing your price per gallon under $2.00.
- Savings potential: Up to a free full fill-up every month.
Sign up for your favorite gas station's credit card:
If your gas station doesn't offer a debit card, chances are they offer a credit card. Credit cards are based on approval, of course, but if you get approved you can get savings on savings. The Shell credit card, for instance, offers up to 10 cents off per gallon if you spend $500 on the card the previous month. Spend $1,000 the previous month and get 15 cents off up to 100 gallons. If you spend $2,499.99 in the previous month, you'll max out your savings at 20 cents a gallon for up to 100 gallons.
If you need a credit card or can switch some of your credit utilization to this one, say, using it to pay certain bills every month to meet the $500 minimum, and know you can pay off the balance, this is a great way to save money.
- Savings potential: Up to 20 cents off up to 100 gallons a month.
Buy gift cards for gas at a discount:
Did you know gas stations have gas gift cards? Most do. A great way to know how much you'll spend at the pump ahead of time is by purchasing discounted gas station gift cards from online vendors. These vendors are mostly aggregates of individuals looking to sell gift cards they won't use so they can get cash or gift cards they will use. Discounts vary, but a quick search showed discounts from 1% to 6.5% of face value.
Check Gift Card Granny and Card Pool frequently and stock up when savings are at their highest. Don't forget most gift card sites also have loyalty programs, so each gift card you purchase is giving you points towards another purchase…or more free gas.
- Savings potential: $1.63 on a $25 gas card/fill-up.
Fill up on Tuesday:
Make it your routine to swing by the gas station on Tuesday if you can. Why Tuesday? Well, gas prices are typically at their lowest on Tuesdays. The reason is that prices have come down after weekend travel spikes, especially in the summer. Prices haven't gone up again yet for the upcoming weekend, making Tuesday the ideal day to fill up your tank.
Check your local gas stations, too, some have discounts on certain days of the week or for certain color cars, etc.
- Savings potential: up to 10 cents per gallon
Use apps to find the cheapest gas around you:
Your phone can also help you find the cheapest gas around you. Hint: It's not going to be at the gas station right off the highway exit. Simply going a few miles down the road can help you save several cents per gallon. Sometimes crossing the city or state lines can drastically reduce gas prices, too. Apps like GasBuddy and GasGuru can steer you in the right direction.
Don't forget about warehouse club gas stations if you're a member of Costco or Sam's Club. Some gas stations will price match if you can prove a gas station has a lower price at that time, so these apps can help even if you don't feel like driving to the other side of town. The trick to that is knowing ahead of time which gas stations price match, so keep an eye out.
- Savings potential: Varies by region.
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