Of course, you spend a lot of money on gas. Maybe not as much as just a few years ago when gas was approaching $4 per gallon, but today it’s still enough. Want to spend less? It’s a lot easier than you think.
Here’s a few nuggets of wisdom to consider:
Don’t buy higher octane gas than you need – higher octane gas exists for one reason, to allow better combustion in high compression engines. Go with the octane level that your manufacturer recommends. If you don’t know what that is, look in your owner’s manual or call your local dealer.
Shop around – Search out the best deal in your neighborhood, or within a few minute detour from your driving path into work every day. There are several cell phone apps that can help you, GasBuddy is one of the major ones.
Do you need to pay for “better gas” – in a word, no. The gas companies put additives in their more expensive grades to “improve your performance” and “keep your engine clean”. While there is a smidge of truth to this advertising, studies show that these effects are very minor. If you want to save money on every fill-up, skip the more expensive grades of gas.
Use a gas discount card – This is a major item. Many of the major filling station chains offer discount cards so by all means consider one. These cards can save you up to 5% every fill-up. Add that savings up per year and you’ll find it’s a considerable sum of money.
Don’t buy soda and snacks – This is where the stations make big margins on their sales. It shouldn’t be a surprise that tossing money on things like soda, snacks and other food products will destroy any savings you made on your gas purchase.
Pay cash when there’s a discount – It’s not real common but some gas stations will charge you less when you pay cash. This saves them from paying the credit card companies their merchant fee and they pass the savings on to you.
Be careful of debit cards – When you pay with a debit card, the bank sets aside a certain amount of your funds to cover the transaction. You could pay $15 for gas but have $50 held by the bank before the transaction goes through. This could potentially lead to a bounced check if you are running your monthly finances close to the limit.
Search out E85 – If you own a flex-fuel car, E85 is typically less expensive than standard gas.
Make sure a gallon is a gallon – States check the accuracy of gas pumps, but some don’t do it very frequently. Arizona, for example, has only 18 workers to check some 2,300 stations. Be leery of stations with old equipment because sometimes inaccurate amounts of gasoline are dispensed.