While they say that both death and taxes are unavoidable in life, so too is shelling out for gas for your car. If you’ve felt the pain of filling up your tank to the tune of $40, $50, even $100 in some areas, you’re likely looking for financial relief, especially if you drive a large vehicle.
Fortunately, we have some tips that will help ease the pain next time you pull up to the pump. Here are the cheapest places and methods to buy gas and save you money.
Arguably the juggernaut of warehouse stores, Costco is known for keeping prices low without sacrificing quality. It goes beyond standard grocery items, too, as many Costco locations sell gasoline at a very reasonable price. The Kirkland Signature brand also makes the effort to keep emissions low, which is a bonus for the environment.
If you’re a frequent driver, they even have a cashback rewards plan to incentivize filling up at Costco. Just know that you’ll have to pay an annual membership fee in order to fill up at Costco pumps. A personal Gold Star membership costs $60 and the Executive plan costs $120.
Coming in second on our list is Sam’s Club, another bulk retailer that assures you that you’ll save money shopping there. On gas, you can save anywhere from $0.05 to $0.25 per gallon, which can really add up if you have a long commute in an SUV or truck.
Sam’s Club memberships start at $45 for one person with $40 for each additional shopper (up to eight) for a personal membership, or $100 for a business membership with $40 for each add-on (up to 16 add-ons).
The third and final big box store on our list is the budget-friendly BJ’s, which runs shopping programs that help you save money at their pumps, such as their High Octane Gas Program. Essentially, if you purchase items in the store with the High Octane sticker, you can shave off $0.10 per gallon when you fuel up there, and you’re not limited to just one item.
BJ’s has three levels of membership: Inner Circle ($55 annually plus $30 for up to three add-ons), Perks Rewards ($100 annually with cash-back rewards), and Business ($110) annually.
Apps to help you locate cheap gas
If you don’t want to spring for a store membership or simply don’t live near one, there are some apps to help you find the cheapest gas in your area. Perhaps the most popular is GasBuddy, which promises to save you up to $0.25 per gallon, and functions by showing you gas prices in your ZIP code.
Gas Guru does the same thing, though via slightly different methods. Waze, AAA, and MapQuest (yes MapQuest) can also assist you to find the least inexpensive gas in the area. Finally, some gas stations have their own money-saving apps as well.
Use a gas credit card
One of the more traditional ways to save money on a wide variety of items is to use credit cards with rewards programs. Some of the best credit cards for gas can also spare you from financial anxiety at the pump, as they offer perks and discounts on gas purchases and more.
Some of your options are from credit card companies like American Express and Discover, big box stores like Sam’s Club, and banks like Citibank. Just don’t let your balance accrue or you’ll wind up losing your savings due to the interest you’ll pay on lingering debt.
Use a cashback credit card
In the same vein as credit cards with gas-specific programs, some of the best cashback credit cards can pad your gas budget with a little cash. A number of cashback cards allow you to choose a bonus category that pays more than regular purchases, and gas is often one of the options. Be sure to pay off your balance in full each month to avoid paying interest.
Sign up for a fuel rewards program
In addition to credit cards and apps, many gas companies offer a fuel rewards program that will help you pay less at the pump. Every program is a little bit different from the next, so you’ll have to do some research to determine which is best for you.
Some offer perks and rewards for fueling up regularly at their station, while others will also give you discounts for shopping inside the store for unrelated items, similar to the BJ’s program. As with gasoline, your mileage may vary.
Tips for saving on gas
All of these options aside, there are some basic ways that you can cut down on your gas spending:
- Pay for your gas in cash, as many gas stations incentivize this method.
- Fill your tank up earlier in the week, as prices may be a bit lower than on weekends.
- Sign up for a ride-share or carpool program if you commute to work.
- Keep your eye out for discounted gas gift cards, which you can score on gift-card websites.
- Be strategic about how and where you run errands, and, if possible, don’t travel during high-traffic times. Sitting in traffic with your car idling will cost you money.
All of these little things can add up to big savings.
While driving is a fact of life for many, there may be life changes you can make to keep your car off of the road, such as working from home, if it’s an option. Electric cars are also becoming more and more popular. Until then, we hope these tips spare you some financial stress.