Gasoline station prices
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

15 Ways to Save Money on Fuel

You need these tips to beat high fuel prices.

The price for a gallon of gasoline has increased sharply since it plunged to levels which had not been seen in decades almost two years ago, as more people have ventured out during what is hopefully the waning of the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic — in fact, the average price per gallon of gasoline in the United States reached record high levels within the past few weeks in part due to the military armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia — but that does not mean you cannot still realize saving money whenever you fill the fuel tank in your vehicle.

15 Ways to Save Money on Fuel

Iceland road highway car
Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

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.

Chilean Rental Car
Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

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.

The Department of Energy of the United States provides a free tool with which you can compare the fuel efficiency of specific models of cars so that you can arrive at an informed decision as to which is the right car for you to rent — or purchase, for that matter — to save money on fuel while simultaneously maintaining the level of comfort and room which you ultimately want.

2. Travel to a Country Where Fuel Prices are Less Expensive.

Sphinx Egypt pyramid
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

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.

Iceland car
Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

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.

Visa Signature credit card
Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

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.

For example, you can earn six times the Hilton Honors bonus points per dollar spent at fuel stations with the Hilton Honors American American Express Surpass Card.

… and the Discover card offers five percent cash back on fuel purchases during one quarter per year. For 2022, this discount of five percent begins on Friday, April 1 and ends on Thursday, June 30.

Those are just two of many credit cards which can offer you savings or bonuses on the purchases of gasoline.

5. Get a Free Fuel Card.

Kroger Plus Shopper’s Card
Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

Retail entities — such as Wal*Mart with the Murphy USA check card and Kroger Plus card as two of many examples — offer a free card with which you can save a few cents per gallon on fuel at their own stations.

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.
    • https://www.76.com/mobile-apps
    • https://www.76.com/cards-and-rewards
  • 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.
  • Cumberland Farms — With the free SmartPay Rewards card, you can save ten cents per gallon of 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
    • 5¢ per gallon with every $50 in the store
    • 5¢ per gallon with every 50 gallons delivered by Irving Energy
    • 6¢ on every gallon with Irving Debit Pay
  • 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.
  • Pilot and Flying J — 3 cents a gallon with myRewards Plus.
  • 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
  • Thorntons — Sign up as a member of Refreshing Rewards and save 3 cents per gallon.
  • Walmart — You can save five cents per gallon of fuel at eligible fuel stations and member prices at Sam’s Club fuel centers as a Walmart+ member. Walmart+ Membership costs either $12.95 per month or $98.00 per year.

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.

mobile telephone Apple iPhone 7
Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Atlanta Streetcar
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

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.

traffic light
Photograph ©2011 by Brian Cohen.

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.

Speed Limit 70 highway
Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

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.

SIXT rental car Citroën
Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

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.

Damaged Enterprise truck
Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

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.

SIXT rental car Citroën
Photograph ©2019 by Brian Cohen.

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.

traffic cars highway
Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

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.

The Clean Cities Coalition Network of the Department of Energy of the United States has a plethora of additional information, details and statistics pertaining to the idling of vehicles.

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.

Gasoline pump
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Three reasons as to why you should not top off your fuel tank are given in this article which I wrote on Friday, January 29, 2016:

  • 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.

Canopy by Hilton Reykjavik City Center
Orange bicycles are available to guests at Canopy hotel properties worldwide. Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

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.
  • Walk or run whenever possible, as they are not only among the most environmentally friendly means of traveling; but they also provide beneficial exercise — and Las Vegas is one city where you can actually walk from the airport terminal to the hotel or resort property at which you are staying. In many cities, one can often walk or run in places where motor vehicles are forbidden — such as through a park, a narrow alley, a pedestrian mall, or even in the wrong direction on a one-way street.
  • 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

Blue Ridge Parkway
Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

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.

All photographs ©2011, ©2015, ©2016, ©2017, ©2018, ©2019, and ©2022 by Brian Cohen.


Please note that I receive compensation for affiliate links posted at The Gate effective as of Sunday, January 1, 2017. You are not required to use these affiliate links; but if you do use them, your support of The Gate is greatly appreciated — and using affiliate links will not cost you any extra time or money.
  1. The discount on fuel for using a Walmart gift card is dead — there were signs about it at the gift card stand at the last couple Walmarts I visited.

  2. Some good points and hopefully we won’t get into the impact of oil prices due to poor domestic policy. A couple of minor comments on your suggestions. The Fuel Rewards (Shell) program is good. It actually gives you the option to earn other rewards besides cash discounts. It offers points towards other programs like auto parts, American Airlines, and such. You can switch the rewards between 3 or 5 cents and reward programs like AA with the app. I’d suggest you sign up either with a referral link from a user or with the AA sign-up to get 100 AA miles even if you switch it later. it pays 2 AA miles per gallon which most will argue that the 3 or 5 cents (depending on silver or gold level) are a better deal however it can help keep your AA points alive if that’s an issue. It also might be a better choice if you are using your employer’s corporate card to fill up with gas. Also I value AA miles at about 1.5 cents each so I think they are at least as good as 3 center savings per gallon. BEWARE though that any credit card you enroll for the Fuel Rewards program will impact your dining programs. Apparently iDine or whoever runs Fuel Rewards and many of the airline dining programs and you can only enroll a card at one or the other. I assume some of the other programs are also like that.

    Some of these programs like BPme and Pilot/Flying J will have Simplymiles or other offers that can easily be stacked with them. Some are average like the current SimplyMiles Pilot 20 AA miles for purchase but the BPme 460? AA miles for purchase is much better. These all stack with your card earnings. So if you have the Wyndham 9x on gas or the AA Plat Select 2x on gas it will stack with all this.

    These programs also vary widely on how hard they are to use. Fuel Rewards just pings off your enrolled credit card or you can enter a card or your pin (phone) number at the pump. BPme generally requires you to use the app to unlock the pump and pay with saved credit cards however not all BP/Amoco stations work with the app. This can especially be true in rural areas. Other programs require a physical card or that you enter the number. I believe Pilot, Casey’s, and such require this.

    In addition to all this, some of these programs limit the cash savings to a certain number of gallons. For example, Fuel Rewards limits the 3 or 5 cent savings per gallon to 20 gallons at a time. So if you have a large vehicle you won’t always save for every gallon purchased.

    We aren’t used to it in the USA so much but in many other countries the small economy cars, many times are small diesel engines that get very good gas mileage.

    Also buying gas station branded gift cards might be a way some can save money. I buy a lot of fuel due to my job so it all helps but at the end of the day, we need to find a way to increase domestic oil production and improve alternative fuel vehicles. These factors working together will reduce our dependence on foreign countries like corrupt Venezuela. We will be less impacted by world events like the war on Ukraine or the Yemen terrorist attack this week on Aramco facilities in Saudi Arabia.

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