Regardless of the price of fuel, any savings per gallon or liter will add up over time — especially if you commute on a regular basis or if you drive long distances often.
Although this article was written from the point of view of renting a vehicle, many of the same tips can also apply to vehicles which you own or lease.
The following 15 ways to save money on fuel are in no particular order.
1. Rent a Smaller — or More Fuel Efficient — Vehicle.
You arrive at the rental car facility to pick up your vehicle — only to be informed that the class of vehicle you rented was sold out. As a gesture of good will, the agent at the facility may upgrade you to a full-sized car, a sport utility vehicle, or a minivan…
…but unless you are transporting a family or a lot of items — or unless you absolutely prefer a roomy vehicle — do you really need to drive those vehicles?
Even if you paid to rent a larger vehicle in the first place, the general rule is that the heavier the vehicle, the less efficient it will be with regards to fuel efficiency — and therefore will cost you more money at the pump. Notice that the weight of the vehicle is more important than the size of the vehicle, as an economy class car may not necessarily have better fuel efficiency as a compact class car.
Also, consider renting a vehicle that is equipped with what is known as a stop-start system, which is a technology that turns off the engine when the vehicle stops for greater than a few seconds — such as at traffic lights — and then restarts it automatically as soon as the brake is released. According to this article from AAALiving, “folks who have stop-start systems in their vehicles can save $122 per year on fuel, based on driving 15,000 miles a year in a car that gets 20 mpg with fuel prices at $2.50 per gallon.”
During the process of renting a vehicle, you may want to read the expected miles per gallon you will likely experience with the class of vehicle you rent. This is especially important in countries such as Iceland, where gasoline can cost as much as ten dollars per gallon — and every drop of fuel which you save will impact your financial bottom line.
2. Travel to a Country Where Fuel Prices are Less Expensive.
The average cost of gasoline in the United States is $1.239 per liter or $4.689 per United States gallon — as compared to a global average of $1.32 per liter or $5.01 per United States gallon — as of Monday, March 14, 2022, according to this tool provided by GlobalPetrolPrices.com.
You may not want to pack your bags and rush off to countries with the least expensive fuel — which include Venezuela, Libya, Iran, and Syria — but you will get a great value on gasoline in Kuwait, Malaysia, Bahrain, and Egypt, where prices per liter average at 34.5 cents, 48.8 cents, 53.1 cents, and 60.4 cents per liter respectively.
Of course, fuel prices should not be the most significant determinant in where you should travel — many other costs and factors should be a part of your overall decision of where to travel — but if you plan on doing a lot of driving, every penny helps.
By the way, the tool also lets you compare the prices of such items as diesel and electricity; and it offers other useful functionalities as well.
3. Rent a Vehicle Which Uses Less Expensive Fuel.
Not all vehicles consume gasoline as its primary source of fuel — although different blends of gasoline are now available for different types of vehicles — as you can now drive vehicles which operate on diesel, electricity, and even natural gas in addition to gasoline.
In 2018, diesel fuel was generally more expensive than gasoline in the United States — but cheaper than gasoline in Iceland.
Spend some time doing research as to what the least expensive fuel is in the country in which you plan on driving. The information for which you are seeking should not take very long to compile — especially if you use the aforementioned tool provided by GlobalPetrolPrices.com.
4. Additional Cash Back on Fuel Purchases With Credit Cards.
Some credit cards offer compensation for you using them to purchase certain items such as gasoline — either in the form of cash back or frequent traveler loyalty program points or miles — on either a temporary or permanent basis.
Free fuel cards are not credit cards — but they can be used in conjunction with the aforementioned credit cards which can save you even more money on fuel purchases.
The list of free fuel cards include — but are not limited to (and this section is still a work in progress, so please pardon the disorganization as links are added and the credit card information is moved to a different section):
76 My 76 App and Drive Savvy Rewards Credit Card —Extra rewards are around the corner.
BPme Rewards — You can instantly save on every gallon every time you fuel up at BP and Amoco fuel stations — and you do it all from your portable electronic device with the BPme mobile software application program, with which paying for your purchase, viewing receipts, tracking rewards, and more are even easier without ever leaving the driver’s seat of your vehicle. No more messing with pin pads or fumbling through wallets — just a few taps of your finger and a whole lot of savings. Text APP to 38831 to download. Simply register for BPme Rewards and start saving 5 cents on every gallon — every time through the next month — and keep that 5 cent reward going by spending a minimum of $100.00 on fuel each calendar month. Do not forget to check the mobile software application program for special bonus offers toward additional savings on fuel.
High’s — Save 4¢ on every gallon, every day with Carroll Pay, which is an upgrade to High’s Rewards that lets you pay with your High’s Rewards card or the High’s mobile software application program. Simply link your High’s Rewards account to your checking account when you enroll to enable debit transactions and start saving today.
Irving — 6 cents a gallon, one time extra 10 cents a gallon after every 50 gallons.
Save 10¢ per gallon with every 50 gallons at the pump
Kenoco and Fabian — 10 cents a gallon. Every time you use Fabian|Kenoco DebitPAY, you’ll enjoy an instant price rollback at the pump, saving on every gallon you purchase. Rates subject to change at any time without notice; fuel discount may vary by site.
Kroger — Save at least three cents per gallon of fuel with a Kroger Plus card — you can sign up for one here at no cost — and the savings add up when you shop at participating Kroger supermarkets, which include other brands.
Kwik Trip and Kwik Star — Save 3 cents a gallon. With Kwik Rewards, get cents off fuel discounts when buying qualifying items, which can be redeemed for instant savings at the pump.
Marathon and ARCO —MakeItCount Rewards is a free and easy-to-use rewards program at participating Marathon and ARCO stations. 40 cents per gallon discount for first use; 5 cents per gallon thereafter
Phillips 66 — Save up to 15 cents a gallon. Pick up a KickBack Points card for free at any participating Phillips 66 station and earn points that spend like cash on gas and the other items. You must be enrolled in the KickBack Points Program to redeem points and be eligible for prize giveaways.
RaceTrac — To get the most out of RaceTrac Rewards, Rewards members can upgrade to the VIP level and unlock fuel savings. VIPs save up to 10¢ per gallon on their first 40 gallons and 3¢ per gallon on each additional gallon every month. Sign up for RaceTrac Rewards through the RaceTrac app or online.
Sheetz — Sign up for your free My Sheetz Rewardz card to save three cents per gallon — plus, you can also earn coffee, soft drinks, and other exclusive offers with it.
Sinclair Green Card, Sinclair Mobile Advantage, and Sinclair DINOPAY — Save https://www.sinclairoil.com/loyalty-programs
Additionally, you can save money with the Fuel Rewards card — you will earn even more with Gold Status — including but not limited to:
Dining Ten cents per gallon for every $50.00 you spend at greater than 10,000 restaurants, bars and clubs
Travel Five cents per gallon for every $50.00 you spend when you book flights, hotels, rental cars and vacations
Online Shopping At least five cents per gallon for every $50.00 you spend when you shop online — brand names you know and love
Card-Linked Offers At least five cents per gallon for every $50.00 you spend with participating retailers
6. Use Technology to Your Advantage.
The following six mobile software application programs for your portable electronic devices will help to ensure that saving money on fuel is even easier for you to do than ever.
Gas Buddy is used by approximately 70 million people in the United States, Canada and Australia; and it is very highly rated by users of both iPhone and Android mobile telephones. You can search for the lowest prices based on the type of fuel you need; and then filter your results by brand, location, and price — as well as additional features like restrooms, restaurants, and car washes. Its mobile software application program can also alert you to daily deals and price hikes at your local stores. Prices are updated in real-time by the community of users. Gas Buddy also features a loyalty program with which you can save 15 cents per gallon on your first time using the aptly named “Pay,” and five cents per gallon forever after. For helping the Gas Buddy community by reporting prices, you can become a valued member of the community and earn additional perks. The mobile software application program also features road trip guides and station reviews — as well as money-saving tips.
Waze is a community-powered mobile software application program with approximately 90 million users, but it informs you about a lot more information than simply the prices of fuel. The mobile software application program — which was designed in Israel — is known for delivering traffic and road updates up to the moment; and that includes alerts of speed traps, ambulances, and accidents ahead without using a significant amount of data on your portable electronic device. It can also tell you which routes to take to avoid paying tolls — as well as exactly when you need to leave to be on time for your events or items in your calendar. Waze even lets you set a sound alert if you exceed the speed limit so that you can drive at a consistent speed below the speed limit, which helps to use less fuel and thereby save money.
American Automobile Association TripTik Travel Planner — Becoming a member of the American Automobile Association is an investment that can save you time, hassle and money if your vehicle breaks down — but did you know that your membership also comes with a great mobile perk? The AAA TripTik Planner allows you to plan all aspects of your trip — including the best places to stop for gas and the most efficient route. Greater than 85,000 fuel stations throughout the United States are featured — including updated fuel prices. You can also access information about charging stations for electric vehicles as well as stores, shops, fuel stations and hotel and resort properties which take AAA member discounts.
Gas Guru is a bit more streamlined than some of its competitors; and the data are pulled from the Oil Price Information Service, not users, so there is no need to spend time updating prices at stations you use. You can use the app to see whether it will be cheaper to buy gas near home or work, labeling frequent locations, and can filter your search by fuel type. As an additional perk, you can also see restaurants, repair shops, and automated teller machines are close by.
MapQuest can not only get you the same turn-by-turn directions you know, but you can also have them read aloud accompanied by satellite imagery and live vector maps. MapQuest updates and optimizes with real-time traffic updates taken into account. You can also share your estimated time of arrival with friends and family, access roadside assistance, book reservations at your favorite restaurants and — most importantly — compare prices at nearby gas stations.
Upside can save you approximately 25 cents per gallon of gasoline — but its results are only for greater than 650 fuel stations which are located in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and Long Island in New York.
7. Plan: Combine Appointments and Errands in One Trip to Optimize Consumption of Fuel.
Try to combine multiple appointments and tasks into one trip whenever you are running errands, as several short trips starting with a cold engine each time can potentially use twice as much fuel as a longer trip with multiple purposes which cover the same distance when the engine is warm.
Also, plan the route in advance in order to drive the fewest miles, as not only will you save on fuel; but you will also save time — as well as simultaneously saving wear and tear on your vehicle.
8. Drive Sensibly and Not Aggressively.
Have you ever had a car speed by you — only for you to catch up to that car at the next red light?
Aggressive driving — which includes speeding, rapid acceleration and braking — wastes fuel. Your gas mileage may be lowered by between approximately 15 percent to 30 percent at highway speeds; and by between 10 percent to as much as 40 percent in local city traffic which constantly stops and goes.
Devices which offer feedback to drivers can help you drive more efficiently while improving fuel economy by approximately three percent — and that those people who them to save fuel can improve gasoline mileage by as much as ten percent.
Besides, sensible driving is also safer for you and others, so you may save more than between 28 cents and $1.12 per gallon in money for gasoline.
One obvious way to drive sensibly is to give yourself more time to arrive at your destination so that you have no need to drive aggressively because you are in a hurry.
“When approaching a red light or stop sign, take your foot off the gas early and allow your car to coast down to a slower speed until it is time to brake” rather than zooming up to that traffic light and then braking abruptly, according to this article from the American Automobile Association. “When driving in town, adjust your speed to ‘time’ the traffic lights. This reduces repeated braking and acceleration that consume additional fuel.”
9. Observe the Official Posted Speed Limit.
Although each vehicle reaches its optimal fuel economy at a different speed — or within a different range of speeds — traveling greater than 50 miles per hour tends to significantly decrease gasoline mileage, as the faster you go, the less efficient is your fuel economy because your vehicle burns more fuel due to such factors as wind resistance and ground resistance.
When put another way: for every five miles per hour you drive faster than 50 miles per hour is roughly the equivalent of paying an additional 20 cents per gallon for fuel — so driving your vehicle at 60 miles per hour is like paying 40 extra cents per gallon of fuel.
Assuming that fuel costs $4.25 per gallon, your fuel economy will benefit by between seven percent to as much as 14 percent, with the equivalent savings for each gallon of gasoline between 30 cents and 60 cents — simply by observing the speed limit.
Observing the speed limit when driving is also safer in general.
10. Use Cruise Control.
Using the cruise control device while driving on a limited access highway helps you maintain a constant speed and — in most cases — will potentially save fuel…
…and your foot and leg will not cramp as a result of keeping them in the same position for hours at a time.
Do not use cruise control all the time, though. Sometimes the foot of a human being can be more conducive to saving fuel due to such factors as topography and traffic conditions.
11. Avoid Hauling Cargo on the Roof of Your Vehicle.
Hauling cargo on the roof of your vehicle increases aerodynamic drag — which is also known as wind resistance — and results in decreased fuel economy. If using an external cargo container to haul your belongings is an unavoidable necessity, ensure that you remove it when it is not in use in order to save you between six cents per gallon of gasoline to as much as 48 cents per gallon of gasoline in terms of fuel consumption.
Two examples of how external cargo containers can decrease fuel economy include:
A large roof-top cargo box that is not aerodynamic can decrease fuel economy by between:
Two percent to eight percent in city driving
Six percent to 17 percent rural highway driving
Ten percent to 25 percent on limited access highways at speeds between 65 miles per hour to 75 miles per hour
Rear-mount cargo boxes or trays can decrease fuel economy by between one percent and:
Two percent in city driving
Five percent on the highway
12. Remove Excess Weight From Your Vehicle.
Did you know that when your vehicle carries an extra 100 pounds, the fuel economy of that vehicle can decrease by approximately one percent?
Your vehicle should not be treated like a mobile storage space. Avoid keeping unnecessary items in your vehicle longer than necessary — especially heavy items. The reduction in fuel economy is based on the percentage of extra weight relative to the weight of the vehicle and affects smaller vehicles more than larger ones.
Keep your vehicle as light as possible. You could save three cents per gallon of gasoline as a result.
13. Avoid Excessive Idling of Your Vehicle.
Excessive idling is not listening to a marathon of songs by Billy Idol.
Rather, the definition of idling is running the propulsion engine of a vehicle when it is not moving. Idling the engine in your stationary vehicle can consume as much as a half gallon of fuel per hour — depending on the size of the engine and use of the air conditioner — and waste fuel as well as create harmful emissions to pollute the air.
Instead, turn off your engine when your vehicle is parked, as approximately ten seconds worth of fuel is all you will need to restart your vehicle. You could save up to two cents per minute of idling with the air conditioner off; and as much as three cents per minute of idling with the air conditioner on.
As a public service message, never ever leave your child or pet in a vehicle while it is stationary — whether or not it is idling — as they are placed in danger by either the ambient outside temperature or the possibility of the vehicle being stolen by thieves with the children or pets in it. That danger can include significant psychological issues, serious bodily injury — or even death.
14. 3 Reasons Why You Should Not Top Off Your Fuel Tank.
Possible damage to the carbon filter vapor collection system
Potentially harming the environment with pollution caused by vapors and accidental gasoline spills
Wasting money on gasoline which supposedly returns to the fuel pump of the service station as opposed to going into the fuel tank of your vehicle
15. Use Alternative Modes of Transportation.
You may not always need to rent a motor vehicle while traveling — especially if you want to avoid driving in traffic; and if parking is at a premium in both availability and cost. Depending on the destination, consider at least one of the following options:
Public transportation includes buses, subways, trolleys, commuter railroads, water taxis, ferries, and light rail. Depending on the destination, these options can be more practical, faster, efficient, and cost effective than renting a motor vehicle.
Use a taxi cab or a ride share service such as Uber or Lyft to reach your destination — and you can then consider using a different alternative mode of transportation once you arrive at the hotel property or other destination. If you find out aboard the airplane on which you were a passenger that a seat mate is heading to the same destination as you, sharing a ride may be possible with which spitting the cost of the ride could save both of you money. You can even leverage your benefits with Uber or Lyft for free transportation — especially if you are a member of a partner frequent travel loyalty program or carry certain credit cards or charge cards.
Use a bicycle, scooter, or even a skateboard to travel distances which are too great for walking or running but can potentially be more efficient than using a motor vehicle. At least two hotel brands — Kimpton with InterContinental Hotels Group and Canopy with Hilton — offer guests bicycles to use free of charge during their stays.
Final Boarding Call
Saving money on fuel is not all that difficult to do — even if you only follow some of the recommendations in this article…
…and if everyone did their part to save on the consumption of fuel, prices per gallon would likely be less expensive.
If you have any ideas or suggestions on how to save money on fuel which is not included in this article, please post it in the Comments section below.
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