4 Ways to Combat $4 a Gallon Gas

by Guest

Ok, so you have a couple options available to you if you want to save money on gas this spring and summer as prices hover around $4 per gallon. First, you could stop driving altogether. This might be logistically feasible for some, and the environment would surely appreciate it, but others simply live too far from work and/or need their cars to shuttle around kids and grandkids.

Alternatively, you could go out and get yourself a shiny new hybrid card, but that wouldn’t be too cost-effective overall and would surely cut into your nest egg. Aren’t there any less-drastic ways to save though; perhaps some tips that don’t involve locking away or trading in your keys?
Yes. In fact, there are two that can provide some financial relief, especially when used together. The first, believe it or not, is plastic. And no, I’m not talking about some new plastic car part that improves fuel consumption, but rather a credit card.

Credit Cards with Good Gas Mileage

There are a number of different types of gas credit cards that provide significant savings on the purchase of gas. In order to narrow down your search, ask yourself this question: Am I a brand-loyal gas consumer? In other words, do you use one particular chain of gas stations every time you fill up, or could you do so without much interruption to your daily routine?

If you answered yes, get the gas credit card affiliated with your station of choice. Each major gas station has its own credit card that provides lucrative rewards on gas purchases. However, to get the best rewards earning rate, you must get your gas at the chain of stations to which your card is tied. Carefully evaluating your current spending habits and determining the stations that you could conveniently frequent is therefore necessary before opening a station-affiliated credit card.

While the exact card you get ultimately depends on your location and spending habits, the best gas credit cards are the Shell Credit Card (5% rebate on gas purchases), the BP Credit Card (5% rebate on gas purchases) and the Exxon Mobile Credit Card (15 cents per gallon rebate, or 3.75% on a $4 gal.).

If, however, your answer to the previous question about brand loyalty was no, then a cash back credit card with extra rewards on gas might be right for you. With this option, you would essentially be sacrificing some of the rewards potential of a gas credit card for the flexibility of a general cash back credit card. You see, you’ll get the same gas rewards no matter where you fill up.

Some of the best options in this category are the Capital One No Hassle Cash Rewards Card (2% cash back on gas), the TrueEarnings Card from Costco and American Express (3% on gas until $3,000 in annual gas purchases, 1% thereafter), and the Blue Cash from American Express (1% on gas until $6,500 spent on card, 5% thereafter). None of these cards has an annual fee either, though a Costco membership is required for the TrueEarnings Card.

Technology-age Bargain Hunting

The other way you can save is to simply take advantage of the technology that’s available to you. Thanks to the increasing relevance of blogs and smart phones in everyday life, finding the lowest gas prices around can be done in a few clicks.

Thus, you can save just by bargain hunting. And driving around from gas station to gas station looking for the best prices, wasting gas, and defeating the whole purpose of the endeavor in the process is no longer necessary. Simply find a website that regularly updates local gas prices, such as Gas Buddy, or download one of the many smart phone apps that uses your location to find the lowest gas prices around, such as the Gas Buddy App for iPhone.

Final Thoughts

When used in concert, the benefit of each aforementioned money-savings tip is amplified. Simply use the gas app to research the stations in your area that typically have the lowest prices and factor that into your decision of whether to get a gas credit card or a cash back credit card. Once you have opened your card of choice, you can use the app to find either the lowest prices among all stations or the lowest prices among the locations affiliated with your card.

Separately, both a credit card and modern technology will help you save on gas. Together, they’ll help you save a lot. Considering the U.S. Energy Information Administration expects regular gas to average $3.86 per gallon this summer, we should all try to save as much as possible.

This guest post comes from Card Hub, a Web marketplace for comparing credit cards.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Little House April 22, 2011 at 10:25 am

These are both good tips. I’d also add change the way you drive. Don’t stomp on the gas then hit the brakes; stop and go type driving wastes gas. Instead, drive at a slower, steady pace and try the best you can to time the stop lights – coast up to a red in hopes it changes to green, don’t sit idle at a fast-food drive thru, park and walk in, etc. You’ll get better gas mileage over all.

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krantcents April 22, 2011 at 10:35 am

Good ideas! I buy our gas at Costco and receive the 3% rebate. Costco generally sells their gas at below market prices. As more people go there, I go at off hours to avoid lines. In addition, I am starting to use my bicycle as a means of transportation in addition to exercise.

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Kay Lynn April 26, 2011 at 5:34 pm

@ Little House, that’s a great tip. Plus it’s much easier to be the passenger with a smooth driver.
@ Krantcents, our nearest Costco does not sell gas and I sure miss it.

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Victoria Taylor April 22, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Very useful tips on saving $ on gas! It’s definitely way up there (again) and its worth going the extra mile to save some bucks. Another way to save money on gas (in the long run) is to purchase hybrid car, I just got my prius and I totally love it. I am now in the hunt for a good deal on new car insurance and hope to save some money there too. Thanks for this useful article. Best – Vicky

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June@CreditDonkey April 23, 2011 at 6:01 am

I think using affiliate credit cards will really bring your buck’s worth. Since gas prices are rising due to the conflict in most of the oil producing countries, the gas price will really be volatile and you could really use the discounts and rebates it offers. When you fill up your tank and pay cash, you can’t really expect anything more than a full tank.

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Buck Inspire April 23, 2011 at 9:49 am

Great tips! I fill up at Costco and just downloaded that Gas Buddy app you suggested. I’m using the bus to get to work as well, these gas prices are killer!

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Kay Lynn April 26, 2011 at 5:36 pm

@ Victoria, I am interested in getting a hybrid in the future. One of my friends is one his second one and loves them.

@ June, my grocery store affiliate card gets us a reduction on the gas price.

@ Buck, prices are projected to get up to $5 a gallon in California so the worst is yet to come.

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Spruce Up Your Finances April 23, 2011 at 10:38 am

High gas prices is one of the reasons why I moved closer to work. My gas expenses have dropped dramatically (at least 60%) and I did not have to deal with the traffic and at least an hour commute.

Great tip for those who are trying to alleviate the high cost of gas.

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Super Frugalette April 25, 2011 at 7:18 pm

We just opt for one car…pretty over simplified though.

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Kay Lynn April 26, 2011 at 5:37 pm

@ Spruce Up Your Finances, that (and traffic) are two of the reasons we moved closer to work a few years ago. It’s a nicer quality of life too.

@ Super Frugalette, that’s a good idea for those that can get by with one car or switch to public transportation.

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