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Don’t be surprised if filling your car’s tank at the pump keeps gobbling up a growing portion of your budget.
Amid already rising gasoline prices, the average price you pay for per gallon could jump over the next couple of weeks, according to GasBuddy.com.
On top of elevated prices for crude oil — which accounts for more than half the price of gas — as demand recovers from a pandemic-induced drop and production remains lower, millions of barrels of refining capacity are now offline due to extreme cold in the lower half of the U.S.
“Much of the projected increase in gas prices is likely to play out in the coming days,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.
The current national average for a gallon of regular unleaded is $2.58 and could reach somewhere between $2.65 and $2.75 soon. That would put it about $1 above the $1.74 tallied in April 2020 amid plummeting demand as the pandemic took hold.
Additionally, the cost per gallon also tends to rise in the spring as demand increases and stations switch to cleaner and more environmentally friendly gas for the summer.
There are ways to save money on gas — beyond things like sticking to the speed limit and avoiding aggressive driving — that could translate into hundreds of dollars per year.
For starters, shop around. Depending on where you live, there can be big price swings between gas stations. And even if the difference in price per gallon may only be a few pennies, it still adds up.
“Too many motorists just pull up to the closest pump and end up overpaying,” De Haan said.
There also can be stark differences in price from one state to the next. For example, one gas station in Arizona is $1 less than a competitor across the California state line, De Haan said. (California’s tax applied per gallon is 82 cents and Arizona’s is 37 cents.)
Additionally, there are apps — including GasBuddy, Gas Guru and AAA TripTik — you can use to find the best prices along your route.
It’s also worth looking into loyalty programs, which many major chains have. They generally are free and can offer cents-per-gallon discounts, De Haan said.
However, credit cards that offer discounts for gas purchases might not be the best option unless you routinely pay off the card’s balance.
“If you’re not paying off your bill, you end up giving the bank more money than the discount is worth,” De Haan said. “The cards work if you’re paying it off, but not if you carry the balance month to month.”
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