Tips to avoid pricey gas stations

July 24, 2013 8:23:23 PM PDT
It's costing more to fill up at the pump these days but does where and how you get your gas really make a difference in the cost?

The national average for a gallon of gas is around $3.57. Here in Houston, it's about 12 cents lower -- still pricey. But we have a few money-saving tips to help you ease the burden at the pump.

"We've had crude oil prices rise in response to the unrest in Egypt, as well as declining inventories in the U.S.," oil consultant Andy Lipow said.

Lipow says even though prices have steadily increased in the past month, there is relief in sight.

"We're going to see a very slow but steady decline now through the Labor Day holiday," Lipow said.

So until then, here's a few tips you can use to save at the pump.

Tip 1: Purchase fuel from stations away from major highways.

"Usually those that are on the highway have a higher demand," AAA's Sarah Shimmer said.

Shimmer says stations further from highways tend to be cheaper.

Tip 2: Make use of smart phone apps.

"AAA mobile, it's free for anyone to use, and it's going to give you real time gas prices," Shimmer said.

Shimmer says it helps you compare fuel prices in the area.

Two other apps to check out are Gas Buddy and Gas Guru. Load them on the phone and they show you near by gas stations and the prices. But take note, not all gas stations may be listed and the information can sometimes be outdated.

Tip 3: Participate in retailer fuel programs. Places like Sam's Club and Walmart give discounted fuel prices, which add up over time.

"I think the minimum is 3 cents and I think that max I've done is 10 cents a gallon," Houston driver Lety Delacruz said.

Delacruz takes advantage of Kroger's fuel program, which gives you 10 cents off per gallon for every $100 spent at the store. You can also accumulate savings, potentially saving up to $1 off per gallon.

Tip 4: Read the fine print.

"You always want to check out and see what else is going on with that lower price," Shimmer said.

Some stations advertise lower prices if you pay with cash or gift cards. If you're not careful, you could pay 10 cents or more with your credit card and not even realize it.

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