As the summer driving season approaches, gas prices show no signs of slowing down.
The national average for unleaded gasoline hit a new high of $4.59 a gallon on Thursday, according to AAA. For the first time ever, the average price was $4 a gallon or more in all 50 states this week, according to AAA data. Last year at this time the price was $3.04 per gallon.
Soaring crude oil prices are largely to blame, the auto group said. “The high cost of petroleum, the key ingredient in gasoline, is driving these high pump prices for consumers,” AAA spokesman Andrew Gross said in a statement.
How to save gas
If you’re still considering hitting the road, there are ways to protect yourself somewhat from soaring prices at the pump. Consumer savings expert Andrea Woroch has these tips:
- Track gas prices. Apps like GasBuddy, Gas Guru, and AAA TripTik can find the cheapest price per gallon between gas prices. Even if the difference seems small, it can still amount to hundreds of dollars a year.
- Pay in cash. The price per gallon can be 10 cents to 15 cents more per gallon for credit card transactions. Instead, pay cash to get the lowest price or use a gas rewards credit card to get cash back on these charges. (CNBC’s Select offers a comprehensive roundup of the best cards for refueling based on your drinking habits.)
- Drive strategically. Carpooling between work and school or playing sports can significantly reduce your time on the road. You can even find rideshares using sites like ZimRide, RideJoy or eRideShare.com, Woroch advised. Plus, order online and look for free shipping to reduce the cost of groceries, takeout, and other everyday essentials.
- Sign up for loyalty programs. Additionally, loyalty programs, which many large gas station chains have, can help offset the price at the pump. Some grocery store chains may also offer cents per gallon rewards. For example, Kroger and Shop & Stop give fuel points for every dollar spent on groceries, which can be redeemed at participating gas stations.
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