Tuesday Tips: Shopping for the Cheapest Gas
Have you ever played the "find the cheap gas" game? My husband and I do it all the time when we're driving to the beach. All of a sudden one of us will scream out, "I see $3.97! I see $3.97!" How do you shop for cheap gas? I've been inundated with tips on how to cut back on my gas consumption and I've followed many of the tips. But let's be realistic. I still have to drive to get to certain places. Do you have a secret spot where the gas prices are always lower? Post a comment below. And while you're at it, answer the poll on what kind of gas shopper you are. I have a mere three tips for finding cheap gas and here they are:
Tip #1: Hit the Web. Several sites have launched over the last year that help consumers find the cheapest gas in their communities. Some the prices are based on findings from motorists driving around and calling them in and others are taken from the Oil Price Information Service, a source for petroleum pricing and oil news. I recently discovered that you can get pretty different prices from some of these sites. MapQuest's gas prices feature, which gets its prices from the Oil Price Information Service, found me the lowest price recently at $3.86. The station was 10 miles away from my house but the next cheapest gas price was a whole 7 cents more. MapQuest's prices are updated seven times a day and any price older than 48 hours is removed from the site. AAA's Fuel Price Finder is also pretty good, getting its data from 100,000 gas stations, credit card transactions and direct feeds. There's also GasBuddy.com, which uses a network of ordinary people who report gas prices in their community.
Tip #2: Hit some of the cheapest. It used to be that Hess was always my go-to station but lately their prices are not much better than the big boys. Liberty, a small independent company based in North Carolina, has stayed cheaper than its bigger competitors. Tom Alexander, one of the company's executives, said Liberty was started in 2000 as an "alternative to the higher prices being charged by the mainstream brands, such as BP and Exxon." The one near me always seems at least 10 cents cheaper than its big-name neighbors. Where are your favorite spots?
Tip #3: Hit the pumps on hump day. I've noticed that gas seems slightly, I repeat slightly, cheaper mid-week rather than on the weekends and Mondays and Fridays.
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