Gas apps like the popular crowdsourced GasBuddy have always been a useful tool for lowering fuel expenses, but current events and the resulting high gas prices lately are making them indispensable for finding the cheapest gas available.
According to AAA, the national average of gas prices is $4.25, although odds are it’ll climb higher. A year ago, the national average was $2.79. A month ago, it was $3.46.
As anyone following world news knows, the higher gas prices are generally due to fallout from the Russia-Ukraine war. Earlier this week, for instance, President Joe Biden ordered a ban on Russian imports as a response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile, crippling sanctions on Russia from numerous countries throughout the world have also curbed the flow of oil. So demand continues to be high for oil, and there’s currently less of it to go around. Ergo, gas prices are going way up.
The question is: How high will gas prices go? Usha Haley, professor of international business at Wichita State University and an expert on the energy sector, says, “Consumers should be prepared to pay more at the pump for several months. High gas prices will probably linger through Labor Day and could easily reach $4.50 or $5 a gallon before they start to retreat.”
Fortunately, Haley doesn’t see gas prices increasing more than that. “However, if we are involved directly in a global conflict, all bets are off,” she adds.
That said, you probably won’t see prices climb to, say, $10 a gallon. Dave Gulley, professor of economics at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts, says that when prices rise too high, they’re hard to sustain. “Elevated energy costs will slow the economy and reduce overall demand for energy,” he says.
Gulley thinks the national average will hit $5 per gallon in the next month or so. But he adds that he has seen dire projections of gas going up to $6 or $7 a gallon, and that isn’t out of the realm of possibility — all of which makes gas apps even more valuable to motorists. In fact, between gas station loyalty programs, credit cards that offer cash back and gas apps, there’s almost no reason to pay a gas station’s full price.
Read on for more information on unique features of the following gas apps, which are all free to download:
— Gas Guru
— AAA TripTik Travel Planner
— BPme Rewards
— Shell Fuel Rewards
— Speedy Rewards
GasBuddy is arguably the most well-known gas app, and it’s been around since 2000. To use the app, users type in their ZIP code, and gas prices pop up for various gas stations in their area. The app relies on other users to report prices as well as data furnished by gas stations, so while the app is generally well-regarded, it may not always be accurate. Still, it’s generally on the mark.
GasBuddy also offers a card that connects to your bank account. You’ll have to furnish your address as well as driver’s license information and checking account routing number. Currently, the card is promising up to 25 cents off a gallon of what you’ll pay at the pump.
The phrase “up to” is key, however. You may get 25 cents off a gallon, or you could get less.
If you’re really a GasBuddy disciple, you could sign up for its premium service, which saves you a guaranteed 20 cents a gallon on fuel (up to 50 gallons a month) and sometimes as much as 40 cents. The premium service costs $9.99 a month or $99 a year.
Is it worth spending money with the aim of saving money on gas? You’ll want to crunch the numbers and determine whether you drive enough and will save enough to offset the cost. GasBuddy’s premium service covers 95% of the country’s gas stations and offers roadside coverage.
As you would expect, Gas Guru shows you gas prices in your area. In the app, you can filter by the price of the gas, fuel grade and distance. The data comes from the Oil Price Information Service, or OPIS, a fuel-pricing service firm, and Gas Guru is owned by the Yellow Pages. So it’s another reputable app with a friendly interface. You can also see what’s near the gas station, so if you need to run errands or grab a bite to eat, Gas Guru can help you out there as well.
Are you one of those drivers who always has Waze turned on and are constantly reporting issues like potholes or disabled cars on the shoulder of the road? If so, you probably already know that your beloved navigational app can show you the nearest gas station along with prices.
Waze, which was founded in 2008 and has been owned by Google since 2013, will give you directions on how to get to the gas station you’re seeking. It also has a contactless payment feature at participating ExxonMobil and Shell stations. So once you arrive at the gas station, and your vehicle comes to a complete stop, you can pay for your fuel on your phone.
AAA TripTik Travel Planner
A paid membership to AAA means that if you get a flat tire or run out of gas on the road, you’ll be sent help, like a tow truck or a mechanic. Well, the AAA TripTik Travel Planner, which used to be only available to paid members, is available to anyone for free.
This app shows all of the gas stations and their gas prices in your area. It can also help you plan road trips, which AAA is famous for doing. The app has the prices of 85,000 gas stations throughout the country.
It’s easy to take this website for granted, which launched in 1996. While it’s known for being a tool to help drivers get from here to there, the MapQuest mobile app can also find gas stations along the route, check prices and choose the cheapest option. It also has other helpful features, like information on traffic, and you can make reservations at restaurants through the app.
[Read: 15 Creative Ways to Save Money.]
To encourage you to download the app, GetUpside’s website says you will save up to 25 cents a gallon. To get your savings, though, you’ll have to take a photo of your receipt in the app. That may sound like a pain, but keep in mind that unlike with the GasBuddy card, you don’t have to furnish your bank account information.
It’s also worth noting that GetUpside has a feature called “check in,” where sometimes you don’t have to take a photo of the receipt and instead you pay with a saved credit or debit card in a couple of clicks.
The app can also help you save on groceries and at restaurants (up to 35%). You get your cash back through PayPal, a check or a digital gift card. Note that there’s a $1 fee for withdrawing from PayPal (if you cash out under $15) or receiving a check (if the check is less than $50).
If you drive a lot, you may be interested in this app. Fuelio will help you find cheaper gas, but it also tracks your fill-ups, gives you a mileage log and in general allows you to manage your vehicle expenses, including trips to the mechanic, tolls and parking fees.
If you tend to fill up at BP gas stations a lot, you could save with the BPme Rewards app. You’ll save 5 cents a gallon during the first month and every month after that, provided you spend at least $100 in gas at BP, which is getting easier to do these days.
Shell Fuel Rewards
This app will get you 3 to 5 cents per gallon off at Shell stations. You get 5 cents off if you achieve “gold status,” which, like with BP, means you’ll have to fill up at Shell somewhat regularly.
The convenience store and gas station Speedway has locations throughout the country, and its app will give you 10 points for every gallon of gas you buy and 20 points per dollar you spend inside the store. Because you’re getting points and not cash back, you see savings right away, and depending what you redeem the points for, you may never see savings. But according to Speedway’s website, you could redeem 1,750 points for a fuel savings discount of 10 cents per gallon. Or instead those 1,750 points could get you a free hot breakfast or lunch sandwich.
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Update 03/10/22: This story was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.