5 Easy Ways to Save at the Pump

Buying gas on Wednesday is one strategy. Here or other ways you can save without making drastic lifestyle changes.

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Here we go again. As if high unemployment and an eye-popping deficit weren’t enough, gas prices are once again on the rise. Some even predict that a gallon of petrol will top $5. So much for the Fed controlling inflation.

So what can consumers do today to reduce their cost of gas? There are, of course, long-term solutions. One can consider the gas mileage of a new car before making a purchase. I recently purchased a hybrid that gets more than 40 miles to the gallon. And one can always decide to live close to work or public transportation. But putting these big decisions aside, here are some easy ways to save at the pump without making drastic changes to your lifestyle.

1. Comparison shop.

So often we drive until the needle is below ‘E,’ and then pull into the first gas station we find. The result can be that you pay significantly more than would at other nearby stations. Finding the cheapest gas near you is a snap with sites like gasbuddy.com. Within just a few miles of our home, gas prices range from a low of $3.69 to a high of $3.89.

2. Use a rewards credit card. By far the simplest way to save on gas, use a credit card that offers some form of cash-back on gas purchases. Some cards pay cash-back, while others offer points or miles based on your purchases. We maintain a list of the best gas rewards cards at Dough Roller, which includes one card that pays 5 percent cash-back on all purchases of gasoline.

3. Buy gas at the grocery store. It sounds odd, I know. But many grocery store chains now have gas stations in their parking lots. If you have a loyalty card with the grocery store, you can earn substantial savings on gasoline. With one grocery store near our house, we routinely save 20 cents per gallon off prices that are competitive to begin with.

4. Buy gas on Wednesday. While this is another strange tip, it turns out that you’ll often find the best prices on gas mid-week. Many believe it’s because gas stations tend to hike the prices as the weekend nears. The theory is that gas station owners want to take advantage of consumers who are filling up for the weekend. Keep an eye on gas prices in your area to see if there are similar trends that you can exploit.

5. Take care of your car. There are a lot of good reasons to keep your car in good running order. Increasing your gas mileage is just one of them. Arguably the most important maintenance for improving gas mileage is to keep the tires properly inflated. According to fueleconomy.gov (yes, our government has a website on fuel economy), you can increase mileage by 3.5 percent just by making sure your tires are properly inflated.

DR is the founder of the popular personal finance blog The Dough Roller, and the credit card review site Credit Card Offers IQ.