Every time we hope that low gas prices will stick around for a while, it does the opposite and ends up higher than where we’d prefer it to be. In fact, gas prices have been rising weekly, sitting at their one-year highs. The national average for gas is $2.80 per gallon as of March of this year.
Since electric cars are still years away from mass adoption and high gas prices are probably here to stay, I compiled a list of gas-saving tips to show you how to keep more money in your pocket the next time you’re at a gas station!
Without further ado, here are the 21 best ways to save money on gas!
How To Save Money At Gas Stations
1. Download The GetUpside App
One of the best ways to save money on gas and find the cheapest gas near you is by using the GetUpside app. Not only will GetUpside show you the locations with the best prices for gas, but they’ll also give you up to 25¢ per gallon in the form of cash back!
All you have to do is download the app (use my promo code NINJA20 for an additional 20¢ sign-up bonus), fill up your car as you normally would, and take a picture of your gas receipt. That’s it!
GetUpside will process your cash back within a day. You can withdraw your money via PayPal or have a check sent to your home address.
Already a GetUpside user? See my list of promo codes for existing users.
Learn More: My full GetUpside review
2. Use Credit Cards With Gas Rewards
While 70% of people in the United States own at least one credit card, not all are using the full benefits. When it comes to saving money on gas, this means using credit cards that provide the best rewards at gas stations. Forget cards that give you 1% cash back on gas, here are the top contenders of the best gas credit cards:
|Credit Card||Cash Back Rate|
|Amex EveryDay Preferred||2%|
|Chase Ink Business Visa||2%|
|Citi Shop Your Way Mastercard||5%|
|PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa||5%|
|Wells Fargo Propel Amex||3%|
3. Enroll In Gas Station Rewards Program
Many gas stations offer a free rewards program to encourage loyalty to their gas brand. These gas programs don’t require a credit check and can be combined with all the gas-saving tips mentioned in this post.
Each program is a little different, but they generally will either provide a discount per gallon of gas purchased or points that can redeemed for future gas refills. All together, you can expect an additional savings of about 5¢ per gallon.
Here are links to the major gas rewards programs:
|Gas Brand||Rewards Program|
|Exxon Mobil||Exxon Mobil Rewards+|
4. Check For Cash Discounts
Some gas stations charge less if you pay in cash instead of using a credit card. They avoid having to pay credit card processing fees and in turn, split the savings with you.
However, the cash price difference is typically around 10¢ lower compared to credit, which you can easily beat by combining the first 3 strategies I mentioned earlier: using the GetUpside app, purchasing with a credit card that earns cash back for gas, and taking advantage of a gas station rewards program.
So paying cash to receive a discount on gas is a potential option, but it shouldn’t be the first thing you look at.
5. Get Regular Grade (Don’t Fall For The Premium Trap)
I can already hear some readers saying out loud:
“My car tells me I need to get premium grade gas! What kind of advice is this?!?”
If your car recommends premium gas, then you should absolutely get premium gas. Using regular gas in an engine that requires premium will eventually cause engine knock or pinging that damages the pistons. It could also cause other problems like lower fuel economy and poor engine performance.
However, if your car only requires regular fuel, you’re just wasting your money if you’re filling it with premium. That’s because your car’s engine is designed for regular gas and paying for more expensive grades will do nothing for it.
Don’t fall for the fancy TV commercials trying to convince you of the need for premium gas – listen to what your car manufacturer recommends instead. If you don’t know what type of gas your car requires, look for a label with this info near the gas cap or gas cover. You can also look up what your car takes with this handy guide from the U.S. Department of Energy.
6. Pay For Gas With Gift Cards
There are so many ways to get gas station gift cards for free.
For instance, you can use sites like Swagbucks and Survey Junkie and earn points for taking surveys, playing games, and browsing the internet. Then just cash out your points for gas station gift cards at brands like BP, Exxon Mobil, and Shell.
Another option is to buy gas gift cards at a discount. There are a number of online gift card exchanges that you can buy cards at a discount.
How do these sites get gift cards? It’s usually bought from someone who received a gift card as a present and doesn’t want it. They sell the card to these exchanges at a discount and then the exchanges pass on some of those savings to a new buyer (you).
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7. Buy Gas On Mondays Or Tuesdays
GasBuddy conducted a survey to track gas prices and concluded that Mondays are the best day of the week to get the lowest gas prices, with Tuesdays coming in at a close second.
The worst days to buy gas are Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. There isn’t hard evidence on why this is, but I think it’s because people are out and about on the weekends and gas stations capitalize on this fact.
How To Save Money On Gas While Driving
8. Best Speed For Fuel Economy
The most efficient speed you can travel to achieve the best fuel economy is between 55 mph and 65 mph. Any faster and the fuel efficiency drops rapidly. For example, if you drive 85 mph, you’ll use 40% more gas than driving at 70 mph.
I have to admit, I also need to take this advice. My tendency to speed has cost me gallons of gas… and speeding tickets to boot! Not very ninja of me!
9. Avoid Stop-and-Go Traffic
Traffic jams and traffic lights will burn a lot of gas from the constant idling, stopping, inching forward, etc.
While traffic can’t be completely avoided, you can use technology to find the ideal route to your destination. The best mobile apps for this are Google Maps and Waze. These GPS apps provide live traffic data, helping you avoid events like car accidents, construction activities, and emergency road closures.
10. Accelerate Gradually
Another sure way to waste gas is trying to be the second coming of Speed Racer.
If you’re one to “put the pedal to the metal” when you’re taking off from a green light or stop sign, you’re burning a lot of gas. Instead, try to get into the habit of accelerating gradually. You’ll also help extend the life of your car because hard acceleration places a heavy load on drivetrain components.
11. Draft Safely (Or Don’t Draft At All)
Drafting is the practice of following a car from behind to take advantage of the lead car breaking the air. This reduces friction for cars that are trailing. I had a hard time deciding whether or not to include this as a gas tip.
First, let me get what the science tells us.
If you ever watch NASCAR races, you can see how all the cars try to line up directly behind the one ahead of them. It allows them to conserve gas.
But you and I are not professional drivers and drafting can be really dangerous. Never, never, never ride someone’s bumper. If you’re going to do it, maintain a safe distance at all times.
Better yet, just don’t draft at all. Life is much more valuable than saving every single drop of gas that you can.
12. Avoid Idling – Turn Off The Engine
My parents used to tell me to avoid turning the car on and off too frequently. Back in the “old days”, frequent restarts were hard on a car’s engine and battery, but with today’s technology that’s no longer the case.
An idling car uses between 20% to 70% of a gallon of gas per hour. In fact, idling for just 10 seconds wastes more gas than restarting the engine.
So next time you’re in a driveway waiting for a friend to come out, turn off the engine. If you’re stopping by a fast food restaurant for a quick bite to eat, park your car and go inside instead of waiting at the drive-thru.
13. Reduce Weight
The more things you have in the car, the more your engine needs to work to lug all that weight around. Reducing as much weight as possible from your car will improve your gas mileage.
Short of throwing people out of your car (unless you don’t like them!), you should look to remove heavy items from it if you’re not using them – things like golf clubs, cases of water, hefty tools, etc.
14. Improve Aerodynamics
Nothing beats driving around town with your windows down on a nice day. It also saves on gas too.
However, the opposite is true when you’re on the highway. Your engine will burn more gas trying to maintain speed thanks to all that drag caused by the wind – it’s better to roll your windows up and put the air conditioning on.
Ski racks, bike racks, and canoe racks on top of your car also makes it less aerodynamic. If you’re not using it, consider removing them to improve your car’s aerodynamics and save gas.
Other Ways To Save Money On Gas
15. Check Your Tires
Check your tires monthly to make sure they’re properly inflated. Under-inflated and over-inflated tires will cause them to wear out faster and waste gas.
Keeping your tires inflated with the right air pressure can improve your gas mileage between 0.6% and 3%. It might seem small, but those percentages mean that for every 656 gallons of gas (what the average American driver uses in a year), you’re losing up to 20 gallons due to incorrect tire pressure.
16. Decrease Heat And Air Conditioning
Both heat and air conditioning will reduce fuel economy, but not by the same amount.
Air conditioning is worse on fuel economy than the heating system because it requires more power to run. According to Consumer Reports, using the A/C reduces gas mileage between 1 to 4 miles per gallon.
Balance this knowledge with what I mentioned under improving aerodynamics (Tip #14).
17. Use The Right Oil
This may sound trivial, but whether you’re changing your own oil or going to an auto shop to do it, make sure you’re always using the manufacturer recommended oil grade for your car.
While 5w20, 5w30, and 10w30 may all have similar numbers, using the wrong oil for your car can make your engine work harder and waste more gas.
18. Replace Your Filters
Clogged air filters will reduce fuel economy. Replacing your air filters will improve your gas mileage, but the amount depends on what type of car you have.
Replacing air filters on older carbureted cars can increase fuel mileage by as much as 14 percent. For modern fuel-injected cars, you can expect a jump in fuel improvement of around 6 to 11 percent.
19. Change Your Oxygen Sensors
Oxygen sensors are electronic devices that keep your emissions in check. Also known as the O2 sensor, your car may have one, two, three, or four sensors depending on your engine type.
What do O2 sensors do? Well, let me put my nerd hat on for a second!
O2 sensors monitor oxygen levels in order to provide the right fueling mixture. They let the car know if the fuel is burning too rich (not enough oxygen) or lean (too much oxygen). Faulty O2 sensors can result in lower fuel economy by burning too much gas than the car needs.
If your car is older or has a lot of mileage on it, replacing bad oxygen sensors can improve your gas mileage by as much as 40 percent!
20. Take Advantage Of Public Transportation
Not everyone can take advantage of public transportation, but if it’s available, think about switching your transportation method.
I used to live 30 miles outside Boston, but worked in the city center. That’s 60 miles round-trip with bumper-to-bumper traffic on most days, so I know I’m not getting the best fuel efficiency. Add in daily parking costs, wear and tear on the vehicle, and more frequent car maintenance – it gets expensive!
Once I switched going to work via the commuter rail near my home, I was able to enjoy my commute (talking to friends, reading a book, or
sometimes mostly taking a nap) and not have the inner ninja road rage come out from dealing with all the questionable drivers on the road.
Most importantly, it saved me money!
21. Buy A More Fuel-Efficient Car
Buying a new car might seem counterintuitive to saving money, but I look at spending with a long-term view. Sometimes spending more money saves you money.
What type of car you should get will largely depend on how often you drive and how long you drive, but it really drills down to three choices:
- Gas Car (more fuel-efficient): Newer car models typically have better gas mileage.
- Hybrid Car: Cars that combine an electric and gas engine can double your mileage per gallon of gas used.
- Electric Car: Your electric bill will be higher from recharging your car, but you’ll save much more by never having to gas up again.
The Bottom Line
Gas prices are unpredictable, but they seem to creep up higher by the week. If you have a car that takes gas, your forced to visit gas stations throughout the month.
What you can do though is follow the tips I’ve listed on how to save money on gas; whether you’re using this guide to save at the gas station, increase your fuel economy, or maximize each gallon of gas. The end result is more money in your pocket and less at the gas pumps.
Many of these tips should be used in conjunction with one another to stretch the value of your dollar. Create good habits and own the consistency! The more money you save here, the more you get to spend it on things that truly matters in life.
Was this gas-saving guide helpful? Did I miss any tips or tricks on how to save on gas? Let me know in the comments below!