1) Look for the best deals
It's no secret that some states offer cheaper gas than others. Hit the web to find out which areas near your neighborhood offer the best deals. We recommend the following price engines:
- Mapquest Gas Prices
- AAA Gas Price Finder (Northern CA, UT, and NV only)
- MSN Autos Local Gas Prices
2) Take advantage of rewards cards
Chase, Discover, and American Express are just a handful of banks that offer credit cards with cash back programs that can earn you up to 5% cash back on gas purchases. Our only warning: be sure to pay your cards off in full each month (to avoid paying interest fees) and consider switching cards once the introductory rate expires.
- Blue Cash from American Express: 5% cash back at gas stations, supermarkets, and drug stores
- Discover Open Road Card: 5% cash back on the first $100 worth of gas and auto maintenance purchases each month
- Citi Driver's Edge Card for College Students: 3% cash back at gas stations, supermarkets, and drug stores
3) Keep your car in check
Car pooling and mass transit are excellent ways to save on gas, but when those aren't options, we recommend properly maintaining your car and making the most of each trip you take. Here's a few tips to get you on your way:
- Give your car a thorough inspection. A clogged air filter can cause your car's engine to work overtime. As a result, replacing it regularly can help you save on gas consumption. Also, make sure your tires have proper air pressure and that you change your car's oil when required.
- Plan your trips in advance. Keep a to-do list in your glove compartment and consult it whenever you're running errands. For instance, if you know you'll be in one part of town at noon, make a list of errands you can finish while you're there. That way, you won't waste gas by driving back the following day.
- Buy in bulk. This may not help you save money at the pump, but it can keep your gas costs low by reducing the amount of trips you make. In addition, try to stay in from time to time. Going out on weekends can be fun, but taxing on both your car and wallet.
- Drive sensibly. Aggressive driving, speeding, excessive idling, and constant braking, are surefire ways to waste gas. Carrying too much weight in your car can also burn valuable fuel. Keep your car's trunk and roof rack as light as possible.
- Even if you don't have a hybrid, many new cars come with a real-time MPG meter. Use this to gauge your gas consumption and become a more efficient driver.
- Avoid rush hour. Sitting in traffic eats up your car's fuel. Avoid scheduling meetings or appointments at peak rush hour.
- Not sure how to get from point A to point B? Use a GPS system to help you find shortcuts and keep you from getting lost, both of which will save you gas in the long run.
- Real-time traffic monitoring apps (available on some GPS systems) can also help you avoid jammed highways. Don't have a real-time traffic subscription? Use your iPhone or Google Maps to get traffic updates for free.