3 Secrets to Saving Money at the Pump

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Toby Talbot/APBy Joshua Rodriguez

Gas is one of the most substantial household expenses for many families. I know it’s a pretty big expense for mine. However, throughout the past couple of years, I’ve been trying to live a more frugal life. That involves looking for ways to pay less. Today, I’m going to share some secrets I’ve found that can save you a pretty penny at the pump.

Secret No. 1: Look for local deals.

When we look for local deals, we often think about coupon clipping for a few bucks saved at the local grocery store. However, that’s not the only place you can save money locally. For instance, in my area, and to the best of my knowledge, in all of Oregon, shopping at Safeway (SWY) can save you money on gas. They have a rewards program and a partnership with Chevron which allows me to save up to $1 a gallon when I fill up. Do a little research online to see if there are any loyalty based gas rewards programs in your area.

Secret No. 2: Use gas station credit cards.

I know how annoying it can be to be asked, “Would you like to sign up for our credit card?” at the pump, but it’s important to remember that doing so could save you a ton of money. The general reluctance to sign up stems from our fear that credit cards will lead us to overwhelming debt. That only happens if you let it. Credit cards also have the potential to save you a ton of money, if used correctly.

Most gas station credit cards give you 10 percent off at the pump as well as rewards points when you use the card. If you do the math, you generally earn 10 to 12 percent savings when you use gas station cards. The key is not paying interest on your purchases. After all, how great can 12 percent really be if you’re paying 20 percent to get it? The good news is avoiding interest really isn’t all that hard.

To avoid paying interest on your gas rewards credit card, simply pay your card off every time you fill up. The truth is credit cards have grace periods. If you pay your balance in full within the grace period, you won’t be charged interest. By paying your card off the day you fill up, you’ll be sure to make it within your grace period, meaning you won’t have to pay for your rewards.

Secret No. 3: Use your smartphone.

We use our phones for everything else these days; why not use them to save money on gas? Some apps directly help to save money at the pump and some help in round about ways if you think outside the box. Here are a few examples.

iGasUp: This is one of those apps that directly helps you to save money at the pump. Using this app, you can find the ten cheapest gas stations closest to your current location. Choose the station you want to go to and it will even give you directions on how to get there. The most amazing part to me is how accurate it is. It gets its pricing data through real time credit card transactions.

Google Maps: One of the easiest ways to spend a ton of money on gas unnecessarily is to get lost. Making sure this app is on your phone will help ensure that you don’t get lost, wasting gas in the process.

Carticipate: If you’re a social extrovert like me, you’ll love Carticipate. One of the best ways to save money on gas is to carpool. Carticipate is an awesome app that helps bring carpoolers together. Not only will it save you money on gas, it can help you meet some pretty cool people.

Gas is expensive, we all know that. However, these simple tips can save you quite a bit over the course of a year. By my calculations, following the secrets above, I save between $40 and $60 a month on gas, depending on how much I drive that much. That means these three simple steps save me $480 a year at the very minimum. I hope they do the same for you.

Joshua Rodriguez is a personal finance writer with ModestMoney.com. Connect with him on Google Plus.

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