First, the good news: gas prices this summer may be the lowest we’ve seen in at least six years. This is according to a recent USA Today article , which informs readers that the U.S. Energy Department is predicting that U.S. gas prices for the summer of 2015 will average $2.43 a gallon – down a fairly impressive 93 cents a gallon from last summer.
The down side? If you’re like most drivers, you’ll end up spending more time driving during the summer than any other season . The average driver will drive about 30.6 miles a day from July through September, compared to 25.7 during the months of January through March. That’s about 310 miles more, and if you project your added gas expense based on the projected per gallon average, you may be looking at spending an extra $750 at the pump this summer. Oof.
But there’s a few things you can do to help keep your gas costs down. Here’s 3 ways to save money on gas this summer.
Finding the best gas prices? There’s an app for that.
There are a number of great apps that help you find the best local gas prices. Of these, the best-known is GasBuddy ; you can look up prices on their website before you hit the road, or have a passenger use their mobile app while in the car. The information on the site is crowdsourced, meaning that users share what they pay at the pump. There’s also Gas Guru , which gets its pricing information directly from the Oil Price Information Service .
Pick the best day (and time) to fill up.
You may have heard that gas prices can and do change during the course of a week, and even on the same day, depending on the day and time. Sounds like an urban legend, right? There’s actually some truth to that. A recent study showed that around the country, gas tends to be cheaper on certain days . One trend: gas in many states actually tends to be cheaper on weekends.
(Gas Buddy will also tell you if you should wait to fill up for lower prices per gallon.)
Save money on gas with station credit cards or supermarket discount cards.
Ok, we know what you’re thinking: Interest! Debt!
The easiest way to save a few cents per gallon is to have a dedicated gas station that works with your supermarket to give discounts. However, this may not work for you if you don't have one or the other of those convenient.
How to use a gas station credit card safely
It’s true that if you opt to do what many people do – only purchase gas with a gas station / oil company credit – you’re going to have to do a bit of bookkeeping. But it’s not terribly difficult. The trick is to make sure that you pay off the card’s balance in full immediately (or at least before the card’s monthly no-interest “grace period” ends).
The easiest way to do this? Pay off what you put on the card that very same day. The benefits? Nearly every major gas station will give you discounts at the pump, as much as 10% off. And they often offer rewards points as a bonus.
And remember, there’s a lot that you can do for your car that’ll save you money at the gas station. If you keep your car in good working order this summer, and follow your maintenance schedule, you’ll find that it’ll be much more fuel efficient.