March 10, 2012

Average National Gas Prices

The national average for a gallon of gasoline has hit $3.76 and is increasing daily. On top of that, gas has topped $4 per gallon in Alaska, California and Hawaii, with several other states close behind. Unless you are planning to switch to a bicycle anytime soon, the following 6 ways to save of gas will help you keep a little more cash in your pocket when you go to the pump.

1.  Warehouse clubs & grocery stores. Membership-based stores such as Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale Club have discounted gas available to their members. These places tend to consistently be the cheapest gas around. The only drawback is that you need to be a member to save–each membership ranges between $35 and $55 per year.

If you don’t want to buy a membership, you can always purchase gas at a grocery store that offers a discount, like Vons. Vons Club cardholders automatically received 3 cents off gas and can earn 10 cents off depending on the amount of reward points they accumulate.

2.  Use cash. Remembering to get cash out at the ATM may not be the most convenient option, but you will find many gas stations will offer a few extra cents off per gallon if you pay with cash. In addition, there are gas stations, such as ARCO, that charge $0.35 per transaction for using a debit card (they don’t even accept credit cards).

3.  Shop smarter. Using apps like Gas Buddy will help you save time and money. The user-updated app uses your phone’s GPS to give itemize a list of gas stations around you by distance and price. You then have the option to get directions to the gas station you choose. So whether you want to find the cheapest gas in your area or you’re running out of gas (we do not recommend this), this app will get you where you need to go.

4.  Fill up mid-week. Fill up your tank on Wednesdays and fill up all the way. Gas prices increase on Thursday mornings to prepare for weekend traveling and it’s important to fill up all the way since a break in price increases doesn’t appear to be in the forecast anytime soon.

5.  Avoiding idling. Aside from warming up or cooling down your car, avoid keeping your car on at a standstill. If you are going to be waiting for someone in your car for more than one minute, it is better to cut the engine than keep it on. It wastes more fuel to leave your car on than it does to start the engine again. This also goes for drive-through’s; it’s faster to park and go inside.

6.  Use a rewards card. If you qualify for a credit card that offers gas rewards, now is the time to take advantage of the offer. You can receive an average of 2-3 percent cash back on these types of cards. The important thing to remember is to pay your balance in full EVERY month. This way, you won’t be charged any interest and it won’t be tempting to carry a balance each month, which would cause you to easily slip into debt. If you don’t think you will have the discipline to pay the full balance, don’t sign up for a rewards card. It isn’t worth the risk.

Have more tips to share? Leave them in the comments below!

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