Spending

4 easy tricks to help you save at the pump, even as gas prices rise

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Recent attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil fields are causing crude oil prices to rise, and in turn gas prices are going up, too. The nationwide average price for a gallon of gas is $2.59 as of Tuesday, according to AAA. That's a 4-cent increase from Monday, and experts expect prices could go up by as much as 20 cents per gallon in the coming weeks as the Saudis work to get production facilities back online.

"We found the largest increases in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, and Minnesota," says Jeanette Casselano, gas prices expert at AAA. In parts of those states, gas prices have already increased between 5 and 10 cents per gallon.

Even as gas prices fluctuate, there are some strategies you can use to keep fill-up costs in check:

1. Reinforce good driving habits

"You hard-break, you accelerate very quickly, you speed — those are things that could cost you as much as $400 a year on fuel, just because you're driving like a maniac," says Allison Mac of GasBuddy.

Each 5 miles per hour faster you drive over 50 mph increases your gas cost by 18 cents, according to data from the EPA, so stick to the speed limit and try to avoid high speed roads. If you do frequently drive on the highway, use cruise control: That will save you an average of 7% on gas, according to testing by car review site Edmunds.

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2. Map out the cheapest stations on your route

One-third of drivers buy gas when their low fuel warning light comes on, Mac says, meaning they may panic and pull into the most convenient station. This could end up costing them more money.

Ideally, use an app like AAA, GasBuddy, or Waze to figure out the best prices along routes you frequent — like your commute between work and home.

Driving just a little out of your way can help. "If you are shopping for gas and decide to go to the gas station right off the highway or at a main intersection, that's premium real estate," Mac says. "You are paying for convenience."

Head to a gas station off a smaller street where the retailer's rent is most likely lower and you can find significantly lower prices. "Even within a one-mile radius, you could be saving as much as 30 cents per gallon," she says.

You hard-break, you accelerate very quickly, you speed — those are things that could cost you as much as $400 a year on fuel.
Allison Mac
GasBuddy

3. Keep cash and a rewards card in your wallet

Depending on where you buy your gas, either cash or credit might offer opportunities to save. Many rewards credit cards offer bonus points for gas — the Citi Premier Card and Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card both offer three times the points on gas purchases, for example.

Some gas stations may charge you more for using a credit card, though, so it's good to have the option to use cash, too.

4. Leverage your grocery spending

Some grocery stores and gas stations have reward partnerships. For example, Sunoco offers per-gallon discounts of 5-10 cents or more based on your spending at chains including Safeway, Acme, and Price Chopper. Use your supermarket loyalty card at the pump to save.

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