Gas Prices Are Climbing Yet Again. Here Are 4 Ways to Save

When you own a car, paying for gas is just one of the many ongoing expenses you’ll have to contend with. But what’s tricky about paying for gas is that the cost can fluctuate from week to week, making it harder to fit that expense into your budget.

Meanwhile, CNN reports that for the first time since late last year, gas prices are higher on a year-over-year basis. On March 18, the national average price for regular gas reached $3.47 a gallon as per AAA, compared to $3.45 a year ago. That $3.47 represents the highest per-gallon price since Halloween.

The good news, though, is that there are some steps you can take to save money on gas. Here are a few worth employing if money is tight or you simply don’t enjoy overpaying for things needlessly.

1. Seek out cash discounts

Many credit cards offer generous rewards at the pump. But often, you’ll pay less money for gas by handing over a wad of cash instead of swiping your card. That’s because many gas stations offer a steep discount for cash fill-ups. You’ll need to do the math, though, to determine if paying in cash makes more sense than using your card.

Let’s say your local station offers a $0.10 discount per gallon for cash fill-ups, but your card offers 5% back at the pump. If you’re spending $3.47 per gallon, each gallon gives you $0.17 back with your credit card, so in this case, that’s actually the better deal. But if you only get 2% back at the pump, that’s $0.07 back per gallon, so a $0.10 discount has you doing better.

2. Be strategic about where you fill up

In some cases, driving just a block or two out of your way could have you spending less on gas. So it’s a good idea to use apps like GasBuddy to compare prices locally.

Another place you may want to fill up your car is Costco, if you have a membership. You don’t necessarily want to drive 10 miles out of your way to load up on gas at Costco, because what you save per gallon, you might spend by using more gas. Rather, it pays to try to time your gas fill-ups to your already-scheduled Costco trips.

3. Make sure your vehicle is well maintained

Just as owning a home means having to be mindful of maintenance, so too do vehicle owners have to maintain their cars. But there’s an upside to that — potential savings on fuel.

Properly inflated and aligned tires, for example, could not only make for a smoother ride, but also, potentially lead to more efficient gas mileage. The result? Fewer fill-ups on your part and savings as a result.

4. Don’t speed

Speeding might seem like an effective way of getting to your destination just a bit sooner. But safety issues aside, speeding can be a costly mistake.

If you’re caught doing it, you can face a costly fine and points on your license that drive up the cost of your auto insurance. But even if you get away with speeding, it can result in less fuel efficiency. So if you’re looking to save on gas, stick to the speed limit.

It may be frustrating to see gas prices climbing at this point of the year. And unfortunately, since gas prices tend to rise even more during the summer, $3.47 a gallon might pale in comparison to what you end up paying in June, July, and August. As such, it pays to employ these tips during the year so you can save money on gas, no matter what the average price per gallon happens to be.

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