Gas prices eating at your wallet? Try visiting the pump on a Wednesday, before 10 a.m., as well as these other tips
Feeling a pinch from the gas pump? No wonder. According to the American Automobile Association, gas prices rose every day from Jan. 17 to Feb. 20 – a 15 percent jump to $3.778 per gallon, the fastest run-up since 2005.
Not surprisingly, I’ve been hearing from a lot of folks who have “tips” for how to track, and maybe even help manage, the sticker shock. For example, there is an app called Gasbuddy.com that can provide you with a list of gas stations in the area and their latest prices so that you can compare prices before you fill up the tank. In some cases, you can save 20 cents or more per gallon, which can quickly lead to big savings.
I also liked looking at the gas “heat map” on their website, which shows where the highest prices are in the country in case you’re planning a road trip. Massachusetts was definitely on the warmer end, though nothing like California.
Mapquest has a similar function. At the top left corner of the map that shows up on Mapquest.com, you’ll see a series of icons. Click on the one for “travel services” and it will give you a menu that includes “Gas stations.” Click on that, and it pulls up a list of stations with prices.
Local retailer Cumberland Farms also recently introduced a new payment program called SmartPay Check-Link that the company says saves drivers 10 cents on every gallon of gas, every day. You have a choice of downloading the SmartPay app or picking up a plastic SmartPay card at a Cumberland Farms/Gulf location after registering for the program on the company’s website and syncing it up with your checking account. Each time you fill up your tank, the payment is automatically withdrawn from your bank account.
Chris Faulkner, who is CEO of Dallas-based Breitling Energy Co., also wrote to me about a few different tips he’s come up with to help with the higher gas prices.
According to Faulkner, gas prices rise on Thursdays in anticipation of weekend travel, and 10 a.m. is when most station owners make their price change for the day. So he suggests filling up the tank on Wednesdays or Thursdays before 10 a.m. – and avoid the pumps on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays.
Faulkner said gas stations on the highways tend to charge 15 cents more per gallon, so avoid them, and check to see if the cost is higher for using a credit or debit card vs. paying with cash. Self-serve stations also tend to have lower prices than full serve.
In terms of being fuel efficient, avoid idling your car and be sure to remove unnecessary items. Every 250 extra pounds uses an extra mile per gallon of gas, Faulkner says. Also keep your windows closed when driving on the highway because open windows can reduce gas mileage by as much as 10 percent.
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