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Hitting the road this summer? 4 ways to save money

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Use these tips to save big.

Key points

  • Many people have plans to take road trips during the summer.
  • It’s important to plan your trips strategically in light of higher gasoline costs.

It’s common for gas prices to spike at the start of summer, also known as prime road travel season. But this year, gas prices are pretty out of control due to a combination of factors like the Ukraine crisis and general inflation.

If you’re planning multiple car trips this summer, you may be more motivated than ever to save. That is how.

1. Have your car checked first

Planning to drive hundreds or thousands of miles this summer? You may want to change the oil and rotate the tires before you hit the road. Not only is this the type of standard maintenance you should be performing on your vehicle anyway, but it could also contribute to more fuel-efficient driving.

2. Research gas costs

Although gas is generally expensive no matter where you’re going right now, prices can vary from city to city and state to state. If you’re going on a road trip, do some research to see where it’s worth filling up. If you’re driving down the East Coast, for example, gas prices may be lower in South Carolina than North Carolina, in which case you may want to cross that border before you get to a gas station.

It’s also worth researching specific service stations once you arrive at your destination. Apps like GasBuddy can help you compare prices locally to see where it makes the most sense to fill up.

3. Avoid traffic

When you’re on the road for hours, the last thing you want to do is sit in traffic. Not only is it a waste of time, but it can also be a waste of gasoline. That’s why it’s worth implementing tools like Waze, which can divert you down busy roads and help you find the most efficient route to your destination.

4. Get the right credit card

Your credit card may offer a 1.5% cash back at the pump. But there may be a better deal, like a card that rewards you with 3% cash back on top-ups. Do some research to see which credit cards offer the best perks for drivers, and apply for the right one before your first road trip so you can use it when you need it.

Now, one thing to keep in mind is that some gas stations offer a substantial discount for paying with cash (think $0.10 off per gallon, for example). So while it’s a good idea to add a credit card to your wallet that rewards handsomely at the pump, you also want to make sure you have cash on hand so you can land a deal when possible.

Going on a road trip can be a fun experience, whether alone, with family or friends. And by using these tips, you can spend less to fill up your car, leaving you with more money to spend on local dining and entertainment.

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