Gas prices hit record highs earlier this year. And though they’ve been trending downward lately, they still aren’t inexpensive. In a recent survey, more than 72% of Americans said they’ve had to make some tough financial choices due to the extra expense at the pump.
If you want to save money when filling your gas tank, here are some of the apps and programs that can help.
Best gas apps
There are a lot of different apps that can help you save money on gas — either directly, like GetUpside, or indirectly, like Receipt Hog. Here are some of the apps (available for Android and iOs) most worth exploring so that you don’t have to pawn a kidney the next time you need to fill the tank.
Best overall: GasBuddy
GasBuddy is sort of like the Target Red Card, but for gas. After downloading the app and signing up for a card, you connect the app to your bank account. Then, when you are at the pump, swipe the GasBuddy card instead of your regular debit card. The discount is automatically applied, and the money comes out of whatever account you’ve connected to the card. The app also features ways to get “GasBack” savings, find cheaper gas, etc.
Get the free GasBuddy card here.
Important to Know: They will ask you for your driver’s license number to verify your identity.
Best to find the nearest cheap gas: Gas Guru
Gas Guru does one thing: it helps you find the cheapest gas in your area. It does this thing very well. After downloading the app, allow the app to access your location (you can choose “only while using the app” if you’re worried about data/battery/security issues). You’re done! Now, when you open the app, you’ll get a list of gas prices nearby. The app also will let you know things like whether or not there’s a convenience store or an ATM at the location.
Best for functionality: Waze
Most people know Waze as a map/directions app with social networking built in. Well, in addition to being alerted to traffic slowdowns, potholes, etc., Waze users can also set up the app to show them nearby gas stations. Waze also has a built in “contactless payment” platform in place so you can use your smartphone to pay at participating gas station locations.
Best cash back apps
While not specifically catering to gas buyers, these apps do come with features that will help you save money on site, offer cash back after making a purchase, help you find cheaper prices, etc.
Best if you’re organized enough to act quickly: GetUpside
Upside is a cash back app that focuses on gas and restaurants. What makes Upside different than other apps is that each offer has a relatively small window for use. Typically, an offer must be used within four hours of claiming it on the app.
You can sign up for the app here.
Best for hyperlocal deals: Trunow
Trunow helps you find cashback deals within ten miles of your current location. The deals are for money back from gas and retail purchases. The app is a little older, so there aren’t a lot of offers. Still, every little bit helps, right?
Download the Trunow app here.
Best if you have paper receipts: Receipt Hog
Receipt Hog offers points in exchange for receipts. There are a few options available for submitting your receipts. You can connect your email. You can link your store rewards accounts to Receipt Hog. You can use the app’s “scan” feature to take a picture of your shopping receipts and upload them. The more points you earn, the more cash you’ll get back. The nice thing about Receipt Hog is that it doesn’t care where you shop. Every receipt you submit will earn you something: coins/points for cash back, spins on “Hog Slots”, or entries into the app’s sweepstakes program.
Download the Receipt Hog app here.
Best for in-app gift card purchases: Ibotta
Ibotta is one of the best-known cash back apps. It also offers more cash back than most other apps. Ibotta features offers on specific items from specific stores. One of the best ways to use it is to check the app before you go shopping. Ibotta also offers a wide variety of “bonuses” which earn you extra cash. You can also earn cash back by shopping online — as long as you shop via the app’s link.
Sign up for Ibotta here.
Best gas station programs
Many of the gas chains have their own rewards programs. Some offer discounts on gas at the time of purchase, some offer points that you can accumulate and redeem for rewards, etc. The good news is that you can usually stack these deals with a paper receipt app like ReceiptHog to get a double discount.
Murphy Drive Rewards
Murphy’s is a convenience store/gas station chain in the south and the mid-west (and it has a few outliers in Nevada and Utah). Murphy’s works a lot like Ibotta — you can redeem offers on specific items available at Murphy’s stores, get points to use for discounts on gas, etc.
Download the Murphy Drive Rewards app here.
Exxon Mobil Rewards+
Exxon Mobil Rewards+ is an extremely generous rewards program. You earn up to 3 cents for every gallon of fuel you purchase. You also earn 2 cents for every dollar you spend in their convenience stores. Once you accumulate 100 points, you can turn them in to get $1 off. If you buy gas a lot, you can qualify for even better rewards. Exxon also allows members to combine their Mobil Rewards with other rewards programs like AARP and Frequent Filler.
Sign up for Exxon Mobil Rewards+ here.
Shell Fuel Rewards
Shell has one of the best and most generous rewards programs out there. In addition to earning points every time you buy gas, you can also earn points by dining in program-participating restaurants, online shopping, grocery shopping, and travel expenses (like flights, hotel bookings, etc.). Gold Members can earn up as much as 75 cents off per gallon.
Learn more about Shell Fuel Rewards here.
Like Shell, the Speedway Fuel Rewards program offers members a bunch of ways to get points — buying fuel, shopping in their convenience stores, etc. Speedway also has a club that offers perks like free car washes, free coffee, free snacks, and a bunch of other stuff. What makes Speedway different is that you get to choose how you use your points. You can use them on discounts at the pump or on merchandise/more savings.
Register for the Speedy Rewards program here.
The main thing that you need to know about Chevron’s app is that it allows members to pay for their gas using PayPal or Venmo when they pay via the Chevron app. If you want to save money on gas, you’ll need to sign up (and be approved) for the Chevron Techron Advantage Visa or the Techron Advantage Credit Card. One other option is accumulating points by grocery shopping in participating grocery stores (more on this below).
Sign up for Chevron’s program here.
Grocery store fuel rewards and points programs
Grocery store loyalty programs are a great way to save money on your “everyday” purchases. A lot of these programs are partnered with gas stations to offer discounts on gas when you accumulate a specific number of points via your grocery purchases.
The easiest programs to join are those associated with national grocery chains, like Safeway/Albertsons, Kroger, and Stop & Shop.
Safeway and Albertsons offer one point per dollar spent in their stores. It takes 100 points to qualify for a gas discount. 100 points nets you 10 cents off per gallon. If you don’t need to fill the tank right away, you can stack points. The cap for this is 200 points or 20 cents off per gallon. These rewards programs also offer fantastic in store savings, personalized savings, etc.
Sign up for Safeway’s program here.
Kroger’s program also offers one point per dollar spent in their stores. Every 100 points you accumulate will net you 10 cents off per gallon—when you fill up at a Kroger partnered gas station. In some states, Kroger does not limit the number of points you can stack together each month. In others, you’re limited to a maximum of 1,000 fuel points per fill-up (or $1 off per gallon.) Kroger’s reward program also offers discounts on individual grocery items, personalized recommendations and, sometimes, even a voucher to use on a future purchase.
Learn more about Kroger Fuel Points here.
Stop & Shop
Like the others, Stop & Shop gives you 10 cents off per gallon for every $100 you spend at Shell stations and Stop & Shop convenience stores. Stop & Shop does limit your stacking, but their limit is more than generous. It tops out at $1.50 off per gallon. The catch is that your parts can expire every month, so you’ll have to plan ahead to get the most of out of this program.
Learn more about Stop & Shop’s program here.
Many regionally based grocery stores also have loyalty and reward programs. Make sure to check with customer service the next time you shop, so you can save as much money as possible.
How to maximize your savings
Stores create loyalty programs to reward shoppers for returning to the same store over and over again. One of the ways they reward shoppers is by giving them lots of opportunities to earn extra points and offering extra discounts. Here are some things you can do to maximize your savings at the pump via strategic loyalty program use.
- Buy gift cards to accrue double (or even quadruple) points: Stores often offer double gas points in exchange for buying gift cards. Some, like Kroger, will regularly offer 4 times the points when you buy gift cards. You don’t have to give the cards to anybody. You can just buy the cards for places you already regularly shop, like iTunes or Amazon. Keep an eye out for these deals and stock up when you see them.
- Pay attention to expiration dates: Expiration dates are a real thing. Most gas points expire every month. Even loyalty vouchers and rewards coupons have expiration dates. Pay attention so that you don’t lose out on an opportunity to save.
- Fill up with as much discounted fuel as possible: When you finally qualify for a significant discount on fuel purchases, you want to get the most bang for your buck, right? The best way to do this is to get your tank as close to empty as possible. You could also take an extra gas can to get an extra gallon out of the deal. Note that many programs will cap the number of discounted gallons you can purchase, mostly in an effort to stop families from filling up two vehicle tanks in one transaction.
- Shop on the weekend: Weekends are for sales. Even if there isn’t a holiday coming up, stores will find excuses to offer deeper discounts Fridays-Sundays. They might also offer extra fuel points, double rewards points for later purchases, etc.
- Get a credit card with a cashback bonus on gas: There are a lot of credit cards out there that offer discounts or cash back on gas purchases. The aforementioned Chevron Techron Visa is one example of this. Costco Visa offers 4% back on every gas purchase. Kroger’s Visa offers double gas points on everything, allowing you to earn more off at the pump. There are also cards like Chase Freedom that offer quarterly bonuses on fuel purchases.
- Stack deals to maximize savings: It’s possible to use more than one deal at a time. For example, you can redeem 1,000 Kroger fuel points for $1 off per gallon, pay with your Costco Visa for 4% cash back and upload your paper receipt to ReceiptHog for more savings.
- Pay cash: It’s cheaper for the gas station to take cash than it is to run a credit or debit card. To encourage customers to choose to pay with cash, stations will offer gas at a discount. The savings can be significant, too!
Only do what makes sense for you
Do the math and make sure that the work you’re doing to save money is actually saving you money. For example, if you have to drive to the next town over to take advantage of your gas rewards program, is it worth it? Or does the increased fuel use offset the savings you’re trying to get? And if your credit card gives you 4% cash back on gas purchases but you’re carrying a balance, it will probably be a better deal to use cash and avoid paying the high interest rate.
Want to save even more on gas? Here are some hacks to help you save money and improve gas mileage.
The bottom line
Gas prices are going to continue to fluctuate for the foreseeable future. Make sure you’re taking advantage of every possible opportunity to save money. Pick what works best for you and try to take advantage of loyalty programs when possible.
There are lots of things that will help you improve your gas mileage. Driving more efficiently, keeping your car properly maintained, use cruise control, turn the car off (don’t let it idle), and even filling your tank when the weather is cooler will improve your mileage.
The federal tax is 18 cents per gallon for gasoline and 24 cents per gallon for diesel.
Gas prices can vary significantly from state to state because each state taxes gasoline at a different rate. While everyone pays 18 cents a gallon in federal tax, states can set their own rates. Pennsylvania has the highest state gas taxes in the nation at 57.6 cents per gallon, while Alaska has the lowest rate at 8.95 cents per gallon. The American Petroleum Institute (API) has a great interactive map you can use to figure out state gasoline taxes.