Money Smarts Blog

9 ways to save at the pump

Sep 22, 2022 || Ajay Singh, VP Indirect Lending

Man confused at gas pump

You might still be reeling in sticker shock as gas prices hit an all-time high over the summer. Thankfully, we’re continuing to see downward trend in pricing. We’re actually closing in on pre-pandemic pricing (currently within $1 in Illinois and 50 cents in Iowa). Which is a huge positive.

But as prices continue to rise elsewhere, it’s always good to be thinking about ways to spend less on gas and still get to where you need to go.

We’ve got nine tips to help you save at the pump.

1. Use apps to find the cheapest gas: Saving on the go has never been easier or more accessible with mobile apps. One of the more popular apps, GasBuddy, claims to save users an average of $340 per year on gas through their platform. Gas Guru is another popular option that allows you to search for the nearest pump with the best prices and save it to your favorite locations.

2. Join a fuel rewards program: In the Midwest, a Hy-Vee Fuel Saver + Perks card will allow you to get the groceries you need while earning some sweet discounts at the pump. Plus, it’s accepted at Casey’s, Shell, Sinclair and Kwik Star stations. Other popular ones include BPme Rewards (featuring a 99-cent monthly subscription that will price match with local competitors), Shell Fuel Rewards, Kwik Rewards and countless others.

3. Consider a wholesale club membership: Gas prices at warehouse clubs such as Costco or Sam’s Club are nearly always lower, ranging from 5 cents to 25 cents less per gallon. And when prices rise, they hold their prices down for longer. You can usually find a discounted membership coupon to both places. And if you burn through at least 20 gallons of gas in a week to two, the membership pays for itself. 

4. Fill up early in the week: If you’re looking to save at the pump, try to time your fill-up at the beginning of the week. GasBuddy research shows the majority of states (including Illinois) offer the lowest average gas prices on Mondays. On the flip side, Thursday seems to be the most expensive day to buy gas. No matter what day you fill up, avoid the lines by getting there early in the day.

5. Observe the speed limit: Whether you’re running late to an event or just have a lead foot, speeding along like a racecar driver can lower your gas mileage by 15-30% at highway speeds and 10-40% in stop-and-go traffic ( Driving sensibly won’t just save you gas money — it’s simply the safer route.

6. Lighten your load: If you’re still driving around with bags of sand or kitty litter in your trunk, ditch ‘em. That’s because an extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your MPG by up to 2%, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Avoiding unnecessarily heavy items in your car can save you 4-7 cents per gallon.

7. Lose the cargo rack: Increased wind resistance can lower your car’s fuel economy by up to 25% when driving on the Interstate, according to Remove your cargo rack when not in use to save fuel and money.

8. Carpool when you can: Take turns driving into the office with nearby co-workers or organize a carpool with friends whose kids go to the same school or are in the same extracurriculars. When you swap duties throughout the week, you can all drive a little less.

9. Swap 4 wheels for 2: Looking for free fuel? Hop on your bike to get around town. Not only will you save big bucks by bicycling to and from work and running other quick nearby errands, but you’ll be also getting healthier in the process. Don’t forget the new I-74 bridge is “bike friendly”!

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