Travel is often part of the holiday experience for people. Even though gas prices are lower than they have been in recent years, filling up your car’s tank can still add up, especially if you’re traveling far and wide to visit family and friends. Finding ways to save money on gas this holiday season means making use of rewards programs and taking the time to plot your trips in advance so that you get the most mileage for your buck.
Know Where You’re Going
One surefire way to save money on gas during the holidays is to limit the amount of unnecessary driving you do. You may have to travel across two states to visit your in-laws, but that trip doesn’t have to take twice as long as it should, provided you plan it right. Good trip planning means choosing the right time of day (or night) to travel and choosing the most fuel-efficient route. It also means making sure that you have clear, easy-to-follow directions. Getting lost puts a strain on both your nerves and your wallet, since it means using up extra fuel.
If you have a GPS in your vehicle, you can program it to choose a route that uses less fuel, based on your car’s typical gas mileage. If you’re looking up driving directions online before traveling, you can choose the route that will get you to your destination in the shortest amount of time.
Plan Your Fill-Ups Carefully
Every driver’s been there—your gas tank is nearing empty, so you pull into the first fueling station you see. Then, it turns out that the station down the road is selling gas for 10 cents cheaper. Fortunately, you live in the modern age and there are plenty of tools available to help you find the best gas prices without having to drive all over town. One option is to get an app on your phone that shows you where the closest gas stations are and what the price of fuel is at each. Some apps let you program in your preferences, too, such as a preference for regular or diesel gas, and will show you appropriate results. There are countless apps available for both Android and Apple devices.
Make the Pump Pay Off
Although using a credit card to pay for fuel can backfire on you, in many cases, it can help you save money on gas. Most gas stations, including BP, Shell, and Texaco, offer credit cards that give you a discount on the price of gas, often up to a certain amount each month. Some gas cards also give you cash back or rewards points, which can further cut your fuel costs.
If you decide to get a gas card, remember that the 10 percent or so that you save on gas can be quickly eaten up by high interest rates. Use the same caution with your fuel card as you would with any other credit card. One way to keep the card’s balance from creeping up on you is to only use it for filling up, and to pay it off after each visit to the pump.
This holiday season, a bit of planning, combined with lower than usual gas prices, can mean big savings for you. Before you head off on your holiday adventures, make sure you know how to get to where you’re going and where the gas stations are along the way.
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