Crude oil prices are surging again as commodities traders respond to the continued tension between Iran, Israel and the United States. According to NBC Nightly News, the fear of any kind of military action in the Middle East drives up the price of fuel despite no real shortage of supply. Just recently, the price of gasoline rose three-and-a-half percent and is up 42 cents from one year ago.
As winter subsides into spring, consumers should gear up for another pricey summer with gas prices expected to peak just in time for weekend getaways. But before you cancel your vacation plans, consider these tips for saving on fuel.
1. Use your smartphone.
Look up gas prices in your area and pinpoint the least expensive options on your route by using GasBuddy.com. The site also offers a mobile app that uses GPS to provide current gasoline prices per gallon based on your location. Another option is the CheapGas app which guides you to the least expensive gas station in your proximity, an invaluable resource when driving in unfamiliar areas.
2. Travel with cash.
Many gas stations advertise the price per gallon to cash-paying customers and those who use credit cards are charged an additional 10-cents per gallon. Pay with cash when you can to save.
3. Stock up on discount gift cards.
You can purchase gift cards at less than face value from sites like GiftCardGranny.com including gas gift cards for popular brands like Chevron, Shell and Exxon. For example, the site is currently selling a Hess gift card for 8-percent off. These cards go fast, so set up an alert to receive an e-mail when new gas cards become available.
4. Fuel up at the warehouse.
Membership-based stores like Costco, Sam's Club and BJ's Wholesale Club have discounted gas. In some cases, you can use affiliated credit cards to get a double-dip discount: Pay less at the pump and get a cash back bonus. For instance, the Costco-branded TrueEarnings American Express card lets customers earn three percent cash back on up to $3,000 in gas per year.
5. Find a gas reward credit card.
If you are going to swipe your credit card at the pump, look for one that offers a high reward like Chase Freedom Visa, which offers 5 percent back on gasoline purchases. For other options, check out PTMoney's "The Best Gas Rewards Credit Cards of 2012."
6. Go for grocery and gas discount programs.
Many supermarket chains have partnered with name-brand gas stations to offer reward programs. Ralph customers can get 10-cent per gallon savings at Shell stations in Southern California after redeeming 100 grocery points at the pump. Other grocery chains like PriceChopper, Kroger and ShopandStop offer similar programs. Speak with a store manager to find out which local gas stations will honor the reward program, as some franchise-operated stations may not participate in the programs.
Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc. As a nationally recognized media source, Andrea has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC's Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more.
I'm a former 7th grade Science teacher turned stay-at-home mom that lives in Houston, Texas. I am married to my college sweetheart and have a beautiful daughter named Riley, who definitely keeps me on my toes! I am also involved in starting a small business which would both manufacture and sell an invention that I've patented, called Toothpaste 2 Go. I love interacting with my readers and hope to learn as much about you as you learn about me!