Gas prices are pinching family budgets, and drivers are constantly looking for the best prices at the nearest gas stations. But understanding what drives gas prices and learning some basic strategies for saving at the pump can turn that hunt for gasoline into a money-saving exercise and might just be a little fun.
How do I find gas prices near me?
So, the first thing you might ask yourself is how can you find the lowest gas prices near me. Lucky for you, we live in the modern age of apps and websites for every need.
A small army of companies want to help you find cheap gas. The first place to look is the map software you are already using. For example, in Google Maps, you can search for “gas stations near me” and it will return a list places to fuel up within your general area, and most of them will have the price for a gallon of regular right in the search results.
Popular map app, Waze also allows you to look for the nearest gas station by clicking the pump icon in the search area of the app. When the results come up, they also come equipped with recent pricing data and is even color coded to help you find the lowest gas price.
You can even use a setting to rank the search to find the gas station near me, or list it by ranking of price.
Although it doesn’t do much to answer the question of where to find diesel fuel near me, unfortunately.
When most people find themselves asking “where is the cheap gas near me,” the website and app GasBuddy.com comes to mind. And while you can search for accurate prices for local gas stations, it doesn’t come equipped with a navigation app, which might leave you questioning which is the closest gas station near me.
What factors go into setting local gas prices?
Why does all this matter? Because, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve, gasoline accounts for about 5% of total household expenditures for the typical family, averaging more than $2,500 per year for most households. That’s a good incentive to find the best price at the closest gas station.
The season you are in and the weather can both effect gas prices. For example, in advance of the summer driving season, many oil refineries go off line for maintenance and to get ready for summer gasoline formulations. That downtime means there are fewer refineries available and prices can creep up at your local gas stations.
Severe weather can also effect supply, such as when a major hurricane causes workers to evacuate from oil rigs or refineries near coastlines.
Crude oil is the biggest factor driving gas prices – accounting for more than 50% of the cost. Next comes federal and state taxes, at a little less than 20% of the cost. Refining adds a little more than 10 percent of the cost, and distribution and marketing accounts for the remainder.
The role taxes play in local gas prices is significant. Federal taxes are a flat 18.4 cents per gallon all across the country, but the local tax can range from as low as 8 cents per gallon in Georgia to more than 41 cents per gallon in Pennsylvania and California.
If you are in an area with a lot of gas stations bunched close together, they have a better incentive to aggressively compete with each other to drive gas prices down. But if a gas station is in a prime location, such as right near the airport rental car drop off, or if they are the only gas station for miles, then you may end up paying more for every gallon of gas.
What else can I do to save on gas?
Some common sense tips can help reduce the amount of gas you use – drive slower, don’t crank the AC, check your tire pressure, don’t carry excess cargo, keep your car in good working order. But there are some other strategies you can use to save at the pump.
One strategy is to look for credit cards that give you rewards for your purchases.
Another is to look for grocery stores and clubs that might discount your purchase based on loyalty or club memberships.
And of course, don’t hesitate to use your favorite online tool when wondering where the cheapest gas near me can be found. You should absolutely use those apps to monitor the area gas station pricing, but beware of driving several miles out of your way just in the name of saving a few cents per gallon. What you saved at the pump may have been burned on the way there.