For the last five years gas prices have taken consumers on a roller coaster ride! In 2008 the national average hit an all-time high of $4.11, followed by a rapid slide as the economy faltered. Since then, fuel costs have been on a steady rise and are once again approaching record levels. In May, gas prices broke $4.00 a gallon in some parts of the country – with the National average only 24 cents from the all-time high. Although many experts think we’ve seen a peak for the summer driving season, the high price of gasoline continues to chip away at consumer’s pocket books year-after-year.
The latest rise is being blamed on oil refineries in the Midwest, leading to shortages in Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Ohio and Wisconsin. Although supply-and-demand is always to blame for drastic price increases, it’s ironic that just when our economy is starting to turn around, gas prices skyrocket. No matter what the cause or who’s to blame, it’s safe
to assume that $1 – $2 gasoline is gone forever. Here are some simple ways to save:
#1 – Stop Driving (or Drive Less)
One of the easiest ways to save on gas is to drive less. Although these suggestions may not be feasible for everyone, here are some ideas worth considering:
- Carpool – Drive with co-workers – rotate days or weeks. Depending how far you commute, this could cut your fuel costs in half.
- Work-From-Home – More and more businesses are allowing their employees to work from a home. Take advantage of this option, if it’s available.
- Walk or Ride Your bike – Not only is it healthy, but inÂ some areas traveling by foot (or bike) may be faster. Consider one of the newest trends – electric bicycles.
- Use Public Transit – Not every city provides public transit, but most major metropolitan areas have buses or trains that will get you where you need to go.
#2 – Change the Way You Drive
It may not seem like a big deal when you’re darting through traffic or aggressively speeding along the highway, but the way you drive can have a big impact on how much you’re spending on gasoline. Here are some tips to help you improve your fuel efficiency:
- Avoid Aggressive Driving – Aggressive driving can lower your gas mileage by 33% on the highway and by 5% in the city.
- Reduce Your Speed – For every 5 mph you drive over 60 mph, you’ll pay an additional $0.29 per gallon. Use the cruise control to help maintain a constant speed and save on gas.
- Limit Excess Cargo – An extra 100 pounds could reduce your gas mileage by up to 2%. Weight and affects smaller vehicles more than larger ones.
- Avoid Idling – Idling can use up to a half gallon of gasoline per hour, depending on the engine size and your air conditioner use.
- Maintain Proper Tire Pressure – You can improve your gas mileage by more than 3% by keeping your tires inflated to the proper air pressure.
- Keep Your Engine Tuned – Regular tune-ups can improve mileage by an average of 4%.
#3 – Purchase Gas With a Credit Card
Although a 2-5% rebate may seem insignificant, the savings can really add up when you consider your overall fuel costs each year. There are several options to consider when you’re looking for gasoline rebates, but here is one of the best offers for overall savings:
Our Top Gasoline Credit Card Pick (3% Savings)
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express provides one of the largest flat percentages on gasoline purchases at 3%. You’ll also get 6% cash back at supermarkets, and 1% on all other purchases. This offer DOES include a $75 annual fee, but it can easily be offset by the high rewards, if you’re vigilant about paying down your balance each month and limiting the interest charges.
Keep in mind, there are a variety of offers to choose from when it comes to gasoline rebates. Station-affiliated cards will offer the biggest discounts, but they can only be used at the issuing brand’s stations. If you want more flexibility, consider a generic gasoline reward card and save on all your gasoline purchases. Some grocery and retail stores also offer direct at-the-pump savings to their loyal shoppers. Costco, in partnership with American Express, offers the TrueEarnings® card with 3% cash back on gasoline purchases, in addition to their already low gas prices.
IT ALL ADDS UP!
For most of us, it’s impossible to eliminate gasoline completely. Our country is built around cars, and unless you live in the city or drive less than 40 miles per day and can afford an expensive electric vehicle, gas prices will continue to affect your bottom line. By being vigilant about how and when you drive, you can make significant reductions in your gas consumption and save on gas costs. Tie-in the extra rebates generated from a gas reward card, and it will add up to BIG SAVINGS over time.
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