How to Deal with Gas Prices
Pain at the pump is a common problem. The price of gas has been steadily rising and is projected to stay high for a while. But other than abandoning your car and taking up walking or biking everywhere, there are some things you can do to control how much you spend on gas, from using gas pricing apps to trading in vehicles for better fuel efficiency.
Plan for the road ahead
Your mobile device can be your friend. Google Maps, Waze, and other gas pricing apps can help you search local gas stations to compare the prevailing prices. While the difference is not always much, a difference of 20-30 cents per gallon can certainly add up when filling your tank.
Keep your car running smoothly
If your car is fuel-efficient, the less often you’ll need to fill up. Here are some simple – yet often overlooked - steps you can take to keep your car running at peak efficiency:
- Test your tire pressure – keeping your tires inflated at the level recommended in your car’s manual is important, as underinflated tires make your car’s engine work harder.
- Invest in better tires – the next time you’re in the market for new tires (tires tend to last between 60-75k miles), check the fuel efficiency ratings.
- Service your vehicle regularly – taking care of your engine with regular tune-ups like changing air filters and oil will help maximize fuel efficiency.
- Drive the speed limit – gas mileage decreases rapidly the faster you drive; so leave early, set your cruise control to 55, put on your favorite podcast, and enjoy a fuel-efficient trip.
- Check for traffic – idling in a traffic jam is not only infuriating, but also wastes fuel. Check Google Maps or Waze for any delays or problems before you leave.
Take advantage of loyalty programs
Some larger gas station chains may offer loyalty programs. If there’s a gas station that’s convenient to you that offers such a program, it might be worth enrolling in order to get occasional discounts, especially if you would use that location anyway. But be sure to read the terms and conditions of any such rewards program.
Redeem Rewards Points for gas discounts
If you have a Platinum Visa® with SF Fire Credit Union, you’re earning Credit Card Rewards points on all your purchases. And one of your options for redeeming points is a Fuel Redemption discount at participating Shell and BP stations.
Redeeming 2000 points at the pump gets you a discount of $0.50 off per gallon, up to 20 gallons, for a maximum discount of $10 when you fill your tank. It’s best to wait until your tank is pretty low to use this option to maximize your return, because it’s a flat 2000 points no matter how much gas you pump.
Trade in your car
What do you get with your current vehicle? How does it compare to other new or used vehicles? Searching for fuel efficient used cars could be an option, and thanks to our partnership with Enterprise Car Sales, our members can get help with trading in a current vehicle and searching a nationwide inventory for a more fuel-efficient option.
You would want to consider, though, if the likely savings on gas would be offset by additional costs if you are taking on a new loan with a higher monthly payment than before.
Electric cars are also a possible option if you’re looking to save on gas, but whether an electric car is right for you might depend on your commuting needs. Are you mostly in town or do you have frequent long trips?
Check out our article on the pros and cons of electric vehicles
The bottom line
Given how much we need our cars in daily life, it’s probably impossible to eliminate the pain of gas prices all together. But with a little planning, you can control the costs by finding the best price ahead of time, earning discounts, and ensuring your vehicle is as fuel efficient as possible.