Gas Prices 2012: 8 Tips for How to Save Money on Fuel as Gas Prices Rise

 @julia_greenberg
on February 21 2012 3:49 PM
Gas Prices
Economists do not expect rising gas prices to be a threat to the auto industry's sales recovery. REUTERS

Gasoline prices have reached a record high for this time of the year at $3.53 a gallon. With gas prices up 25 cents since Jan. 1, many experts worry that the price will continue to rise and The Associated Press reports a gallon could reach a record $4.25 by late April.

As the economy struggles to recover, economists worry that higher gas prices could stifle economic growth and hurt consumers. Skyrocketing gas prices have caused consumers to worry about where to find the cheapest gas and how to save money on rising gas prices.

Despite the rising gas prices, there are a number of tricks consumers can use to save money on gas. Take a look at our top eight tips for finding the cheapest gas prices in your area.  

1. Check Gas Price Web Sites

Consumers can find the cheapest gas prices in their area by checking prices online. Gasbuddy.com, GasPriceWatch.com, Gas Prices from Mapquest, FuelEconomy.gov and many other web sites offer users the option to search for local gas stations with different prices by zip code. The web sites are an easy way to find the closest and cheapest gas stations online. 

2. Be Aware of Time and Day of the Week

Many consumers believe that gas prices are cheaper early in the morning or late at night. While this may not be the case at all stations, experiment to find if your local gas station offers cheaper gas later or earlier in the day. Yahoo News also reports that gas prices are lowest in the middle of the week, especially Wednesday, and elevated on the weekend. Consumers should try to buy gas in the middle of the week if possible rather than when prices have purposely been raised. 

3. Location, Location, Location

Gas stations on the highway can charge higher prices because they have less competition, but higher demand. Consumers should avoid buying gas on highways, in affluent areas or in the center of a town. Instead, drivers can find cheaper gas prices by finding more hidden locations, which often offer lower prices.

4. Buy Club Memberships

Some club membership cards, like those to Sam's Club and Costco's, offer deals and discounts for fuel purchases. While consumers may have to pay an initial fee for a membership to such clubs, the driver can save money over time by purchasing the membership card.

5. Use The Self-Service Option 

Gas stations that give consumers the option for self-service will often charge a premium if an attendant fills up the car. By opting to use the self-service option, consumers can save money on the premium added to the original gas price.  

6. Check Gas Prices on Mobile Apps

In addition to gas price-checking websites online, there are a number of smartphone applications that allow drivers to check the prices from their phones. GasBuddy.com (free), GasBook ($0.99), Cheap Gas! (free), Fuel Finder ($2.99), Cheap Gas Finder (free) and My Gas Wars ($0.99) are all gas price apps for smartphones that can help consumers find cheaper gas options on the go. 

7. Get Cash Back from Credit Cards

Many credit card companies will offer special deals with certain gas companies. Consumers are eligible for rebates or cash back on purchases made at certain gas stations. It is important to research different credit card companies in order to get the best deals to save money on fuel purchases.

8. Improve Car Function and Efficiency 

With rising gas prices, consumers may look to hybrid cars instead of their regular gas-guzzlers. While many drivers are not in the market for a new car, there are ways to be sure your car is using gas most efficiently. Be sure that the tires are properly inflated and that the brakes and engine have been properly inspected.

Related Article: High Gas Prices: 5 Best Cars To Own

Related Article: Pain at the Pump: Are U.S. Gas Prices Headed for $5 Per Gallon?

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