Helpful Hints

Todd Larson of Shorewood, Minn., has made finding cheap gas an art form. Work has him traveling 800 to 1,000 miles (1,287 to 1,609.3 kilometers) a week. Since gas prices can vary by more than 25 cents a gallon (3.785 liters), Larson is able to save 4 or 5 cents per gallon every time he fills up [source: Weston]. Follow these tips, and you too can save money when you're on the road:

  • Get away from the highway -- Gas is usually more expensive near the interstate because real estate prices are higher than they are a few miles down the road. A station near the highway will probably charge you a pretty penny for gas, while one down the road might be cheaper [source: Smith].
  • Hit the wholesale clubs -- BJ's, Costco, Sam's Club and other wholesalers offer gas at a discount to members. Moreover, grocery store chains, such as Stop & Shop in the Northeast, provide "gas points" to shoppers who use their reward cards. You just have to fill up at a participating station.
  • Pay cash -- Here's a no-brainer: The price of gas is usually cheaper if you don't use a credit card. Although using cash is so last century, it could save you a few dollars each month. There are also stations that discount gas prices to customers who pay in cash.
  • Early bird gets the deal: Buy gas in the morning or late at night. Most gas stations change prices during the day so if you pull up to the pump before the change occurs, you can save a few cents.
  • Shop the wrong side of town: Visiting the "other side of the tracks" can save you money, too. In nicer neighborhoods, a gas station's overhead tends to be higher than in less savory sections because land is more expensive, as are property taxes. In addition, avoid buying gas near car repair shops. Those prices tend to skew upward [source: Weston].
  • Watch for local price wars and promotions: Price wars can break out anywhere at any time. Keep an eye out when one gas station goes after another, or a radio or TV station is offering a gas promotion.

All of these tips require some thought and planning. But what if you're on a road trip? Go to the next page to see how technology can help.