This 4th of July means “road trip” for an incredible number of us: AAA estimates that 42.3 million Americans will travel 50 or higher miles from your home this holiday week (a lot of them by car), up nearly 5% from last year. Although with gas prices hovering around $3.40 a gallon (below a year ago, sure, but nevertheless not that cheap!), that road trip could get pretty pricey — until you are aware of the guidelines on how to save.
So, basically we all probably understand the basics concerning how to save cash on gas — don’t crank the AC (like that’s a possibility this summer!), don’t tool out and about aimlessly (duh!) — here are several less popular approaches to cut the cost of gas over the summer:
1. Buy discounted gas gift certificates
Sites like PlasticJungle.com and GiftCardGranny.com sometimes sell discounted gas gift cards for gasoline stations like Shell, Gulf and Mobil. This means you could possibly get gas gift cards worth, say, $100 but only pay about $95 for this. That’s $5 in free gas!
2. Drive like a sane person
Sure, traffic jams, slow drivers from the left lane and rubberneckers may make you crazy. But “angry driving” — like rapidly accelerating — may cost you big, says Kelli Grant, the senior consumer reporter for SmartMoney.com. “If you peel from a traffic light like you’re in the Indy 500, you’re going to fund that,” she says. In reality, within a test by Edmunds.com, accelerating slowly coming from a green light and stopping gradually for any red light cut fuel consumption for someone driving a Land Rover by over 35% and also for a Mustang over 27%. Furthermore, the investigation found out that cruise control is the way to go on the road: A Land Rover got roughly 14% better mileage using cruise control set at 70 mph in comparison to a driver cruising between speeds of 65 and 75 mph; for the Mustang, it was 4.5% better mileage.
3. Strategically time your trips to the pump
In a regular week, you want to fill up your tank on Wednesday or Thursday before 10 a.m., says Chris Faulkner, president and CEO of Breitling Oil and Gas, a Dallas-based independent oil and gas exploration and production company. The main reason: “Gas prices rise on Thursdays in anticipation of weekend travel” and “10 a.m. occurs when most station owners make their price change for the day,” he writes. “Unless it is an emergency, will not buy gas Friday, Saturday or Sunday.” During the holidays, some experts state that prices could boost in anticipation more drivers on your way. So, see tip #4 below for finding the optimum prices before you decide to top off this 4th of July.
4. Make use of your smartphone
Use the AAA Triptik or GasBuddy apps to find the cheapest gas in the area, says Grant. Also you can use your smartphone (the Maps app in the iPhone, by way of example, shows you traffic) to discover the traffic before you leave your home in order to avoid gas-wasting backtracking and idling.
5. Look at a gas rewards card (your food market may even offer one)
When you drive a lot, it may well make sense for you to get a credit card that rewards you for purchasing gas. To find out if one is practical for yourself, check out NerdWallet.com, where you’ll enter inside your spending, and this will recommend good bank cards for you. (NerdWallet.com also just launched a site to assist you find cheap gas in the region.) However, it’s worth noting that many rewards cards carry high interest rates, so until you repay your balance entirely each month, these cards probably aren’t ideal for you (instead, look for a low-interest card). Furthermore, “grocery chains like Safeway, Kroger and Winn-Dixie offer gasoline rewards programs,” says Jim Toedtman, editor of AARP Bulletin, which publishes a long list of gas saving tips. “Get family and friends to share the card so points pile up faster,“ he adds. However, it’s important to remember that the cost at this gas station is probably not the very best price on the market, so despite having the savings it might not be the best bargain, says Grant.