Inflation May Be Soaring -- but You Can Finally Save on This Key Expense

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  • Earlier this year, the average gas price topped $5 a gallon.
  • Now, consumers are paying a lot less at the pump.
  • On Dec. 19, the national average cost of gas fell to $3.14 per gallon. 

There's at least some relief to be had.

It's fair to say that inflation has been wreaking havoc on consumers since the start of 2022. In fact, inflation actually began to surge in 2021, but things really got out of hand in that regard this year. 

One thing that made matters worse earlier on in 2022 was soaring gas prices. The Russia-Ukraine conflict sent the cost of gas upward, to the point where consumers were paying more than $5 a gallon on average back in June. 

But these days, it costs a lot less to fill up a car. On Dec. 19, the national average cost of gas fell to $3.14 a gallon. And given that many consumers are now dealing with holiday expenses on top of soaring inflation, that dip in gas prices couldn't have come at a better time.

Even more ways to save

It's estimated that 21 states now have gas for sale at below $3 a gallon. And given that many people no doubt have plans to travel for the holiday later this month, that dip couldn't have come at a better time.

But even though gas prices are down across the country, there are still steps you can take to spend less at the pump. For one thing, always look to see if there's a cash discount available. It's perfectly legal for gas stations to charge a different price for cash fill-ups versus credit card fill-ups as long as they post their prices clearly. But in some cases, using cash instead of a credit card could save you a good $0.10 per gallon. 

That said, not every gas station offers different pricing for gas versus credit card fill-ups. So in that case, you might as well swipe your credit card and score some cash back in the process.

In fact, if you do a lot of driving, it pays to get a credit card that gives you extra cash back at the pump. Some cards will offer 3% or 4% back on fill-ups of up to a certain annual limit, but that limit may be more than reasonable given the amount of driving you do.

Another way to save money on gas? Get savvier about planning out your errands. Bundling trips to the store and changing your routine could help you spend less at a time when you might already be carrying some holiday debt.

What does 2023 have in store for gas prices?

It's really hard to know. If the conflict overseas escalates, it could be enough to drive gas prices upward again. And other factors can come into play that influence how much you're forced to spend at the pump. Even weather events can have an impact on gas prices. 

Your best bet, therefore, is to stick to a careful budget so there's wiggle room in case the cost of gas rises. At the same time, do what you can to eke out savings at the pump, whether by using the right payment method or changing your driving habits.

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