5 Ways to Save Money on Transportation When You Can't Ditch the Car

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  • Working together with friends and others in your household can help you reduce how often you have to drive.
  • There are gas stations and apps that will reward you with discounted fuel prices for your loyalty.

You don't have to settle for whatever the nearest gas station is charging.

Everyone's looking for ways to save on transportation costs these days, but the conventional advice, like walking and taking public transportation, doesn't work for everyone. If you live in a small town like me, your nearest grocery store might be 10 miles away and there might be no bus or subway system to speak of.

But that doesn't mean you're at the mercy of your local gas station. Here are a few tricks you can use to save money while still driving your car every day.

1. Combine errands

Whenever possible, be strategic about your car trips. Try to anticipate where you'll need to go and when and combine as many trips as possible. See if you can do all your grocery shopping for the week on a single day, perhaps on your way home from work, so you can minimize the amount of time you have to spend in the car.

Coordinate with other members of your household as well. Have a centralized shopping list somewhere where everyone can access it and work together to complete other errands as efficiently as possible.

2. Carpool

Carpooling is a great option to consider if you have any coworkers or neighbors living near you who often travel to the same places. One person can drive and the other can chip in a little gas money. You can trade off who drives on what day if you're worried about putting too much wear and tear on a single vehicle.

If you plan to do this, you need to communicate well with the others in your carpool so everyone knows where you're stopping that day. If that schedule doesn't work for you, you may have to drive on your own some of the time.

3. Compare costs at nearby gas stations

There are apps, like GasBuddy, that can help you compare rates at nearby gas stations so you can find the best price. Even if you're familiar with most of the gas stations in your area, this is still worth a try because rates can change at any time. Checking an app is a much faster and more cost-effective way to identify the current lowest rate than driving all over town to check.

Some of these apps also include their own rewards programs, which can help you save on fuel over time. This is worth looking into if you do a lot of driving and find yourself filling up more than once per week.

4. Look into gas station rewards programs

Some gas stations offer their own rewards to encourage customer loyalty. This could also save you money over time, as long as you're not opposed to sticking to the same gas station brand. Possible perks include discounts at the pump and free food and merchandise. Rewards program members may also receive exclusive discounts.

You could enroll in a few different rewards programs if you'd like, but this might make it more difficult to accumulate a significant amount of rewards with a single company.

5. Use your credit card rewards

If you have a gas credit card, you can use this to pay for fuel and earn a percentage of your spending back. Or if you have a cash back credit card, consider redeeming your rewards for a gas station gift card. This may not help you save on gas routinely, but it can take care of filling your tank once in a while.

Hopefully, fuel prices won't stay this high for too long, but in the meantime, thinking outside the box and trying some of the tips above can help you keep your gas bills a little more manageable. See if you can brainstorm any more ideas of your own to help you save during these challenging times.

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