Gasoline. No matter how cheap or expensive it gets I never want to spend money on it.
Unfortunately, living in rural South Carolina, the purchase of gasoline is a fact of life. That is why I am always looking for ways to get free gas. If you are like me and looking to save money on gasoline keep reading for some of the sneakiest tips on the Internet.
Rebate sites help people get cash back on purchases they make online from major retailers. These cash back sites can offer you as much as 20% cash back from some retailers.
With most of the sites, you can get that money back as cash or as gift cards. Either way that money can be applied toward your gas purchases.
For the purposes of this article, I specifically use the rebate sites to get cash back when I purchase discounted gift cards which we will explore next section. The top cashback sites are:
Discounted Gift Cards
You can actually buy all sorts of gift cards at a discount. This means that every dollar you spend is worth more and you get to reap the benefits of basically free gasoline. On the three sites below I saw giftcards for gasoline discounted as much as 6%.
Fuel Rewards Programs
There are several ways to earn money off on your gasoline and one of the most convenient is a fuel rewards program. The way these programs work is that you do your regular shopping and in return you earn rewards that can be redeemed at a local gas station.
My current favorite is the Fuel Rewards Network run by Shell gas stations. They have partnered with retailers and several grocery chains to allow you to earn cash back that can be used on gasoline purchases at Shell stations nationwide. You can learn more in my review of FRN.
Other top gasoline rewards programs include:
Rewards Credit Cards
Credit cards can be a great tool if you pay them off every month. Many now come with perks like cash back rewards. I personally use a credit card that gets 5% back on gasoline purchases from USAA, when I need gas right away and haven’t had a chance to buy a gasoline gift card.
For my gift card purchasing I use a 2% cash back card. That is the highest cash back you can get on all purchases. As long as you have at least mediocre credit, you should be able to qualify for at least a 1% cash back card.
Combining Discounts for Free Gasoline
With any set of unrelated discounts we have the opportunity to combine them. This is how I would get the absolute most free gas I can muster in a single trip to a Shell gas station, starting as a new free gas shopper:
- Sign up for accounts with TopCashBack, CardPool, and Shell Fuel Rewards
- Sign into TopCashBack, search for Gift Card Granny and the click on the link. – 4% cash back
- Once there buy a discounted gift card to a shell station with a cash back credit card – 4% off + 2% cash back
- Go to shell and enter your fuel rewards card first, then pay with the gift card. – 5¢-10¢ off per gallon on next fill up
That’s it! If gasoline is at $2.50 a gallon and you fill up with 15 gallons of gasoline, you have gotten $3.75 in free gas on the fill up, plus another 75¢-$1.50 off your next fill up. That is a grand total of at least $4.50 in free gasoline or at least 12% of the cost in this example.
Fix Your Bad Gas Habits
Whether intentionally of unintentionally we can all obtain some bad habits. When it comes to gasoline, fixing these bad habits means each tank of gas will last you longer.
While this isn’t free gas per se, making each gallon of gas count more means spending less money. Which is really the goal we are all trying to accomplish, because if I can spend less on gas I can spend more on thing I want, like steak.
- Keep track of your usage – this can be done with a small notepad or there is probably an app for that. Just press your trip odometer when you fill up your tank. The next time you fill up write down how many gallons you put in the tank and how many miles are on the odometer. Divide the number of miles by number of gallons and you can get your fuel efficiency for that tank of gas. Keep this on an ongoing basis and if you ever see a loss of efficiency you know there is an issue with your vehicle.
- For long trips use your most gas friendly car – No it isn’t fun traveling to grandmas with the three kids jammed in the back but if it is a day trip then it might be worth the hassle to get the better fuel efficiency.
- Prolonged Warming – 30-45 seconds is plenty of time for most engines.
- Consolidate trips – Try to schedule your day with the least amount of driving possible. Even deciding to stay on your side of town to shop can lead to huge savings.
- Regular tune-ups – Check owner’s manual for recommended maintenance intervals. Special attention should be given to maintaining clean air filters. Diminished air flow increases gas waste.
- Avoid roof top carriers – they can cause serious drag on the car and lessen your mileage by up to 15%.
- Inflate all tires to maximum limit – For each pound of pressure the tire is under inflated, you consume about 1% more fuel. Check your tires at least twice a month and always before, during and after long trips.
- Remove snow tires during good weather – traveling on deep tire tread really robs your gas efficiency.
- Remove excess weight – Extra weight reduces mileage, especially when driving up inclines.
- Watch for icicles – Accumulated snow and ice cause tremendous weight and wind resistance for those of you that live in cold weather areas.
The way you drive can have a huge impact on gas mileage. Just make small changes to your habits can net big dividends.
- Drive a Little Slower – driving 55 mph can save up to 10% on gas mileage vs. driving 65 – 70 mph. This is due to wind resistance. If you are looking for peak performance somewhere around 45 mph is what you are shooting for.
- Use your overdrive – Traveling at fast rates in low gears can consume up to 45% more fuel than is needed.
- Take advantage of the stick – Manual shift driven cars allow you to change to highest gear as soon as possible, thereby letting you save gas if you “nurse it along”. However, if you cause the engine to “bog down”, premature wearing of engine parts occurs.
- Keep the windows closed – When traveling at highway speeds, open windows cause air drag, reducing your mileage by 10%.
- Drive steadily – . Slowing down or speeding up wastes fuel. Tailgating is a great example where you have to slow down and speed up due to the driver in front of you. It isn’t just dangerous it wastes gas.
- Watch the hills – Accelerating while on a hill wastes gas. Do your acceleration on the downhill and use the speed to get you us the hill without wasting gas.
- Watch for stops – no need to race up to a red light or stop sign and then jam on the brakes. Plan to slow down gradually. If you can slow down enough and not have to stop at the light, you can save quite a bit a fuel versus starting from a complete stop.
- Eliminate the jack rabbit starts – When you accelerate slowly your carburetor runs at peak efficiency. Never pres the gas down more than 1/4 of the pedals full motion.
- Do not start and stop engine needlessly – One minute of idling is equivalent to the same gas used by starting the engine. This is why walking into the “fast food” restaurant will save you money in gas.
- No Revving – Revving the engine dumps gasoline into the cylinder. This is especially harmful if you rev and then turn the engine off which can lead to a loss of oil pressure.
- Buy during coolest time of day – early morning or late evening is best. During these times gasoline is densest. You are charged according to the number of gallons not density of those gallons. Also, most stations raise or lower their prices in the morning around 10 AM so be prepared for the change.
- Buy on Wednesday morning – The oil companies usually drive the price up right before the weekend when people travel. By Wednesday you have had three days of competition to drive the prices back down. Expect the rise in price to happen around 10Am on Thursdays.
- Know your stations – Some stations raise prices quickly when they are going up, some react more slowly. If you find that the price has gone up when you go to lunch, try and find a slow mover in your area so you can still purchase at the cheaper price.
- Choose your brand carefully – Certain brands provide you with greater economy because of better quality. A great example is Shell, who is routinely rated as one of the best gasoline brands for quality.
- Do not Top Off – Overfilling results in sloshing over and out of the tank. Assuming you don’t get a false positive, try never to fill gas tank past the first time the fuel pump clicks.
- Avoid the exit ramps on highways – This is especially true for holiday travel. Fill up at your local station before you leave. If you have to fill up on the highway try to make plans to stop at a station near a state line. There is a lot of competition at these stations. Make sure you know which state has the better tax policy so you do not get gas on the more expensive side.
Reducing Your Gasoline Expenses
Using these methods you can greatly reduce the cost of gasoline from your budget. Whether you do the easiest methods or work your way into becoming a gasoline saving freak, you can be sure to spend less in the future.