Simple & smart ways to save money on gas

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With gas prices soaring, filling up your tank can take a sizable chunk out of your budget. Costs for fuel have increased almost 50% in the past year. Fortunately, there are ways to save money on gas. Read on for some smart strategies that will help you spend less.

When you’re choosing a credit card, look for one that will help you save money on gas. Rewards credit cards let you earn points for purchases, and some even offer extra points for gas. The points can be used for rewards like cash back.

Even though you may not be saving on gas directly, using a rewards card and buying gas with it can help you save money in other ways. Check out these top cash back credit cards to help find one that suits your needs.

In addition to general rewards credit cards, there are also credit cards that specifically give you gas rewards. After you use the card to spend a certain amount of money, you may be able to save several cents per gallon.

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This guide to top rewards credit cards can help you explore your options.

How you shop for gas and your driving habits can also help you save. Try these money-saving tips.

Related: How to practice financial self-care

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1. Using a Gas Rewards Credit Card

With a gas rewards credit card, you’ll earn points every time you spend at the pump. There are also travel rewards credit cards, and even general rewards credit cards, that help you earn through the gas you buy. Whatever type of rewards card you choose, the key to getting the most out of it is to use it for the majority of your purchases. That way, you’ll get the most rewards back. The good news: Certain categories like gas — and also dining out and groceries — often allow you to rack up double or even triple points.

If you take a lot of road trips, or do any type of travel, one of these top travel rewards credit cards might work for you.

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2. Using Apps to Find the Cheapest Gas

How to get cheaper gas? Shop around using your phone. Apps like GasBuddy will show you the gas prices in your area so you can choose the cheapest option. Saving 10 cents per gallon makes a difference when you’re filling your tank, and it adds up over time.

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3. Skipping the Premium Option

If you’ve been filling your car with more expensive premium unleaded fuel, you may not need to. Check your car’s owner’s manual. Unless premium unleaded is required for your engine, you can buy regular grade gas instead and save.

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4. Joining a Fuel Rewards Program

You may save a few cents a gallon by signing up for a fuel rewards program at a gas station. Typically, after you spend a certain amount of money, you can save on your next purchase. Just be sure to always fill up at that station so you can reach your rewards faster.

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5. Using Free or Discounted Gift Cards

Websites and apps like Drop and MyPoints let you earn points in exchange for filling out surveys. Once you accrue enough points, you can redeem them for a gift card, which you can use to buy gas.

Another option is to visit a site like Raise.com, which sells discounted gift cards. You can buy a gift card for less than its value and use it to purchase gas.

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6. Filling Up Early in the Week

Start your work week by heading to the gas pump. Fuel prices are usually cheapest on Mondays and Tuesdays, and they rise by the weekend. Planning ahead can help you get the lowest prices possible.

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7. Buying a More Fuel Efficient Car

If your car is older, it may be costing you extra money for gas. Older cars tend to get fewer miles per gallon. Newer cars are generally more fuel efficient, which can help you save on gas overall. If you’re looking for a way to finance a new car, this guide to car loans can help.

Also worth considering: a hybrid car, which uses less gas than a standard model, or an electric car, which uses no gas. There may even be a tax incentive for buying an environmentally friendly vehicle. Learn more at irs.gov.

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8. Limiting Your Driving

The best way to save money on gas is to drive only when necessary. Walk or bike whenever and wherever you can. When you do drive, make fewer trips. Do all your grocery shopping once for the entire week, for instance, rather than going to the store every couple of days.

If you’re planning a road trip, gas will be a major expense. Practice ways of saving money on a road trip, like staying at a hotel near the attractions you want to see and taking public transportation when you can. And consider a rewards card that can help you earn points on travel purchases, like the Bank of America rewards credit card.

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9. Planning Out Your Routes

Before you get in the car, think about all the places you need to go that are located in the same area. That way, you can accomplish numerous tasks in one trip, and drive fewer miles.

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10. Reducing the Use of A/C

Your car’s air conditioner can reduce fuel efficiency by 25%. So, when the outdoor temperatures allow, skip the AC and open the car windows instead.

When you do need the air conditioner, try to avoid blasting it. And keep the car at a comfortable temperature, not an icy one.

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11. Keeping Your Engine in Good Shape

When your car’s engine is in good shape, it helps you get the most out of your mileage. Taking your car in for regular maintenance can help you save money on a car, avoid expensive repairs, and spend less on gas.

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The Takeaway

The price of gas has soared, but using simple strategies, like purchasing fuel with a rewards credit card, finding the cheapest gas station near you, and filling up your tank early in the week, can help you spend less. Over time, these cost-effective strategies can add up to significant savings.

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