Saving Money at the Pump – Five Ways to Reduce your Gas Budget for Travel!

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I am just in shock at how much the gas prices have skyrocketed in the past few weeks. My husband heard on the radio tonight that gas prices are expected to jump even more in the next few days, with prices expected up to go up as much as $.35 more a gallon by the end of Memorial Weekend. Around the Northwest, that means prices will be getting up closer to $5, a record high! Many folks are heading out of town for the popular Memorial Day weekend or will be heading out for some vacation time this summer, so we are all in need of ways we can reduce our gas budget.

We’ve listed 5 ways to save at the pump right now & to lower our growing fuel budgets.  {And don’t forget that students ages 13 & up can earn FREE gas gift cards with good grades from Tesoro gas stations – every little bit helps, that’s for sure!}

Ways to Save at the Pump:

1) Find the gas stations with the lowest prices on your trip or around town 

Use the Gas Buddy app (for iPhone or Android phones) or the GasBuddy.com website to find the lowest priced gas stations (you can also go to Seattle Gas Prices.com, which is run by Gas Buddy, but shows you averages of prices for the Seattle area). The Gas Buddy app is one of the apps that I use the most with my Android phone, especially when we’re on a road trip & need to find where the best prices will be on gas. If you plan your route ahead of time or at least have your navigator/passenger check it out as you’re driving, you could save a fair amount of money by finding the cheapest options for gas along your trip route.

2) Fill up your tank regularly so you don’t get too low & have to find the first available gas station to fill up. 

This is a reminder for me as much as you – I have a very bad habit of not watching my gas tank & then realizing that my gas gauge is on empty at the most inopportune times. I then need to find the first available gas station (forget looking at the Gas Buddy app as this usually happens to me in an area where there aren’t as many choices or I’m running late & need to find something quickly). All it takes is being aware of how much gas is in your car & keeping it at least half full. When you’re traveling, think ahead to how far your full tank will get you & start looking at Gas Buddy to find the best location to stop & fill up.

3) Have a plan before you leave for your destination

Whether you’re just driving out to a new friend’s home for a playdate, visiting a new park, or if you’re on the road for a vacation, make sure you know where you are going. You can waste gas by driving around if you get lost, so it’s a good idea to print off directions or a map before you leave home. Or use your GPS or GPS feature/map feature on your phone to figure out where you need to go (just make sure you won’t be in an area that you will lose cell phone service)

4) Take advantage of store loyalty programs for fuel discounts

Several stores have been offering special fuel discounts and rewards, so this is one of the best ways to reduce your gas budget by buying things you already need & taking advantage of these special programs they are offering at their stores.

Safeway:  Safeway has one of the best programs available right now for saving money at the pump.  You can earn up to $1 off a gallon in gas rewards, so for every $1 that you spend, you will earn 1 point in rewards. Make sure to read the FAQ section for full details on how the Safeway Fuel Rewards program works, but basically, every 100 points will earn you a $.10 per gallon reward on a single-fill up. You can earn up to a $1 per gallon reward (1000 points or $1000 spent). You can earn rewards all month & then have until the end of the following month to use your rewards.

*Right now, though, Safeway is offering 2x the Fuel Rewards (use the in-ad coupon to get this started) – this means that your points are doubled. Say you spend $400 in groceries this month at Safeway, this will be worth 800 points. This will then translate to $.80 off a gallon at the pump to use in a single fill-up.

*Also, just in time for Father’s Day, Graduation gifts & more, they are offering 4x the Fuel Rewards when you buy gift cards.  So, if you buy $100 in gift cards, you will then get 400 points, equal to $.40 off a gallon at the pump. Just remember that you can only use up to $1/gallon on each fill-up, so if you accumulate more points, then they will be carried over to your next fill-up.  Make sure to think about other ways you could use those gift cards, too – maybe purchase Lowe’s gift cards if you have some work you need to do around the house & you’d be spending the money anyways. Or purchase gas gift cards (at my store, they had Arco & Shell gift cards) – you know you’ll need them (if you have one of those gas stations that you would go to regularly) & this way, you can also fill up at the Safeway gas station & receive that discount.  {I took advantage of this deal today as I had some gift cards to buy for upcoming gifts along with my regular groceries for the month & I was able to get an $.80/gallon discount on my fill-up today.}

Fred Meyer – Fred Meyer also has a Fuel Rewards program where you’ll earn $.10 off a gallon when you earn 100 fuel points. You can earn this discount at any Fred Meyer station or participating Shell station. If you haven’t earned the $.10 off a gallon, you can still get $.03/gallon using your Fred Meyer rewards card.

QFC – QFC has a similar program in that you can earn $.10 off a gallon when you spend money at QFC. Every $1 in groceries equals 1 point & you can redeem up to 100 points in 1 transaction, which equals 10 cents/gallon off your purchase.  For a limited time, if you spend $100 in gift cards at QFC, you can earn $.40 off a gallon at the pump (which is similar to Safeway’s 4x gift card promo going on right now, too). You can use this fuel discount at QFC gas stations, but also participating Shell gas stations.

5) Check into whether your hotel offers a gas card promotion

Many hotels are now offering incentives for people to stay at their hotel with gift cards for gas as part of their summertime promotions. If you plan to be traveling, make sure to ask your hotel if they offer some sort of gas gift card or discount.   Hotels such as the Comfort Inn are offering a gas gift card when you stay multiple  nights at their hotel. The offers vary by location, so make sure to check with your hotel to see what they are offering.

What are your favorite ways to save money at the pump?

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