Tips to Save on Gas

Not sure what you paid at the pump over the weekend, but it looks like gas prices are on average of $3.55 a gallon. By the way, that’s a bargain compared to what Nascar pays. They pay $8.26 a gallon!

But we have some gas saving tips to help you out.

Gas prices have already cracked $4 in a trio of states, and some experts are predicting they could skyrocket to $6 by the spring.

Short of buying a bicycle and pedaling to work every morning, what can you do to keep high gas prices from eating a hole in your budget?

There are actually plenty of ways to conserve gas: Take the junk out of your trunk, keep your tire pressure up, don’t drive like a Daytona 500 contestant, or ditch your SUV for a compact. But even if you do all of these things, you still need to pull up to the pump sometimes. That’s where these suggestions come in.

 

FIVE TIPS:

1. Membership-based stores like Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale Club have discounted gas. In some cases, you can use affiliated credit cards to get a double-dip discount: Pay less at the pump and get a cash back bonus. For instance, the Costco-branded TrueEarnings American Express card lets customers earn 3% cash back on up to $3,000 in gas a year.

The caveat: You have to be a member to get the deals. A basic membership at Costco is $55 a year, BJs is $50 and Sam’s Club is $40.

 

2. Yes, it’s a little more hassle than swiping your card at the pump, but some gas stations will knock 10 cents or so per gallon off the price if you pay cash.

The caveat: Aside from making sure you have money in your wallet when you plan to buy gas, don’t let the trip into the store tempt you into forking over a few bucks for a soda or snack.

 

3. If you have an iPhone or Android device, apps like GasBuddy and Cheap Gas use the GPS feature on your phone to generate a list of gas stations near you, along with prices. If you don’t have a smartphone, you can also check GasBuddy.com before heading out for your next fill-up.

The caveat: Prices are reported by users, so they may not be up to date if you’re in a sparsely populated location.

 

4. Supermarket chains like PriceChopper, Kroger, Ralphs and others have gas discount programs in conjunction with their loyalty programs. Users earn points or get credits when they swipe their card; after a certain number are accumulated, they get a discount with a participating gas station chain.

The caveat: Evaluate the store prices; there’s no sense saving on gas if you’re overpaying for bread and milk. Some programs cap the number of gallons you can buy at the cheaper price or the amount of the per-gallon discount.

 

5. You can apply for a credit card affiliated with a specific gas chain that offers rebates or look for a general-purpose card that offers accelerated cash back rewards for gasoline purchases. For instance, the PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards Visa gives cardholders 5% cash back when they buy gas. This card is typical in that you do need very good credit to qualify, but the plus side is that you’re not locked into using any one particular brand.

The caveat: Depending on the issuer, some cards may have an annual fee. Many non-branded cash back cards don’t give you the extra rewards for fuel purchased at warehouse clubs. If you don’t pay off your balance every month, the gas savings will be canceled out by the interest you pay.