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5 mistakes you’re making when buying gas

Gas prices are about 40 cents cheaper than they were a year ago. But lower gas prices are resulting in money-wasting habits at the pump. With gas prices hovering in the $2-a-gallon range for some time, drivers may be getting complacent. A recent GasBuddy survey found that most consumers are paying more than they should be when fueling up. We invited Vera Gibbons, senior correspondent for GasBuddy, to find out all the things we’re doing wrong.

#1 We’re not shopping around

We’re creatures of habit and 75% of respondents in GasBuddy’s survey say they have a station they go to either because the location is “convenient” or because they think their go-to station offers the cheapest prices. “Our research shows that most people can save 20 to 30 cents a gallon by shopping around. In some markets, the savings could be up to 70 cents a gallon,” says Gibbons.

#2 We’re not filling up when we see a good price

Less than a quarter of consumers in the survey said they fill up when they see a good price because they expect those low prices everywhere — 19% wait until the gas light comes on. But procrastinating will only force you to get gas at the first station you see, and you can end up at an expensive station.

#3 We’re treating our cars to premium gas

“Consumers feel like treating themselves and their cars to more expensive fuel, but there is no point filling up with premium unless your car requires it,” says Gibbons. “And the difference between regular and premium gas has increased over the past year.” You can always follow what’s mentioned in your car’s manual, but even then, if it says premium, it’s usually just a recommendation; your car will likely adjust.

#4 We’re not paying in cash

Nearly 90% of consumers pay for gas with credit cards. But you won’t get the cash discount of 10 to 15 cents per gallon if you pay with plastic, so consider carrying cash with you for that extra bit of savings.

#5 We’re not getting cash back for our purchases

If you don’t have a credit card that offers at least 1% to 3% cash back on money spent on gas, you’re losing out. Most credit cards, such as the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express and Discover It Chrome card, give consumers rewards for regular purchases and even more when you spend at the gas station or supermarket. Check out lowcards.com, creditcards.com, or cardratings.com to find the card right for you.

What are some ways you’re saving at the pump? Share them with us in the comments below.


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