Traveling for Thanksgiving? You’re likely going to pay the most you ever have at the pump for your drive to see the in-laws or whomever, but strategies exist to minimize the price point pain.
As of Sunday, AAA was reporting that gas prices averaged $3.67 nationwide (and as high as $5.27 in California), and GasBuddy recently predicted that Americans would pay $3.68 on average for Thanksgiving.
But from shopping around to taking advantage of credit card benefits and other loyalty perks, here are a few of the things experts say you can do to minimize the costs of getting where you need to go this upcoming holiday weekend.
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Find gas stations with lower prices
According to GasBuddy, prices in a neighborhood can vary as much as 30 cents per gallon, so it doesn’t always make sense to fill up at your regular spot or at the first pump you see.
The GasBuddy app, and others like AAA, Google Maps and Waze will sometimes list available gas price data, so drivers can plan to fill at the most economical stations.
Apps can have other savings benefits, too. GasBuddy offers discounts up to $0.25 per gallon to users who pay with the app.
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You don’t necessarily need a smart phone, or even a credit card, to save at the pump. Many gas stations offer cash discounts that can help you save $1 on average when you fill up a 12-gallon tank, according to GasBuddy.
Take advantage of rewards and rebates
Although some gas stations charge extra for drivers who fill up using a card, you could recoup those costs or even come out ahead if your credit card offers rewards or cash back on gas station purchases.
Some credit cards, like the Sam’s Club MasterCard, give drivers 5% cash back on gas.
Gas station loyalty programs and members-only stores like Sam’s Club and Costco are another possible avenue for savings. Rewards programs can get you discounts on your fill-ups, and the members-only stores also generally sell gas at lower prices to those who have paid their dues.
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Drive less aggressively
Another way to save at the pump is by filling up less, which you can do by driving in ways that increase your fuel efficiency.
According to AAA, most cars reach peak fuel efficiency at 50 mph, so not speeding on the highway can help you burn less fuel. Similarly, accelerating and braking less aggressively can help with fuel consumption, too.
The caveat here, of course, is that Thanksgiving weekend tends to be a busy one on the roads, so you may not have a chance to get to 50 mph anyway. Around 20% more people said they plan to drive for Thanksgiving this year than last year.
A vehicle that is well-maintained with properly-inflated tires is typically more fuel efficient, too.