Driving Around to Get the “Best” Gas Price

If you drive around to get the “best” deal on gas prices, you’re an idiot. (Unless that $2 per tank does actually mean something to you.)

Let’s do the math.

I have a 12 gallon tank, but usually I don’t put more than 10 gallons in it when I fill up.

We have a choice between two gas stations:

Gas station A is advertising a regular gas price of $4.399 per gallon. (That’s for regular fuel – why would I buy anything more expensive when my car doesn’t require it?)

-> $4.399/gallon x 10 gallons = $43.99 fuel-up

Gas station B is advertising a regular gas price of $4.189 per gallon.

-> $4.189/gallon x 10 gallons = $41.89 fuel-up

Price difference?

$43.99 – $41.89 = $2.10

Going to gas station B just saved you $2.10 on your fuel up. How far out of your way can you drive before this gets ridiculous?

Since I live and work in the city, I fill up my gas tank on average once a month. Sometimes two or three times, sometimes none at all. I don’t pay attention to gas prices. I have noticed though that this one particular gas station that I drive by occasionally has better prices and it’s on my way to somewhere I go regularly, so I will often stop there to get gas, but I don’t drive around the city to get gas.

Readers, do you drive around to get cheaper gas? Or are you mostly oblivious to gas prices like I am?

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23 thoughts on “Driving Around to Get the “Best” Gas Price

  1. Oblivious, although I should probably pay more attention. I find it more productive to carpool, which we are currently doing, and drive as little as possible. In our rental house we are doing a lot of driving because it is far from work and everything else we do. Once we move into our house next month we hopefully can go back to driving less. My car is almost 7 years old and barely had 40,000 miles on it!

    • I agree with you on driving as little as possible! I walk as many places as possible since parking in the city sucks. My car has been acquiring miles at a similar rate to yours :)

  2. Unfortunately petrol prices don’t vary here – everyone charges the same (ripoff) prices. At least we’re not in a small town or the country; it costs even more away from the main city centres.

    • What? That’s crazy! Here, gas prices tend to be worse in the city because there are all sorts of gas taxes imposed on us. So I usually try to fill up when I’m not in the city core.

  3. For a while I didn’t care, but then my grocery store started offering 10/20/30 cents/gallon off (depending on how much in groceries you’ve bought), so they get my business by default. Another gas station chain has a 0.03/gallon off for loyalty card members; it happens to be the one closest to my house or I might not have bothered, but they tend to be my secondary (if I’ve just used points for the other).

    When I was regularly making the 100 mile round trip between my SO and I, I would always fill up near where I lived not up by him, because it was never more expensive and often 10 cent/gallon or more cheaper.

    • The most convenient grocery store to me has a similar program, but it’s connected with a gas station brand that I hardly ever see, so it’s not much use for me. It seems like a great program if it is though.

  4. I can’t even get up the energy to enter in my 13 digit grocery store pin to save 10cents/gallon. I never do it correctly the first time and my time is worth more than the 60 cents I would save every 2-4 weeks.

    There are 4 easily accessible gas stations on my regular commute and I’ve figured out which one has the lowest prices generally and will go to that one, but I don’t check to see if they have the lowest price for that day.

    • You have a 13 digit grocery store PIN? I have a card I swipe or I could give them my phone number, if I’d actually filled out the form…

      • In theory there is a card I could swipe, but I don’t carry the card (and have no idea where it is since we must have gotten it 6 years ago), I carry the keychain thingy, which the gas station machines don’t accept.

        • Oh, crap. I don’t know where my non-keychain style one went either. I think it might just be in the ziploc bag of cards that I never use at least… Oh well. I don’t use the gas station points and my preferred grocery store will most likely change with my next move.

  5. I so agree with you. I was with a friend, and we were kind of on a time crunch, and she wanted to drive 15 minutes out of the way to save 10 to 20 cents per a gallon on gas. I usually just let people be, but I questioned if it was REALLY the best use of our time to save $2 total.

    • Sounds like my ex who made us almost late to something because his tank was running so empty that we *had* to get gas.

  6. I agree with you. My husband and I both have 40-45 minute commutes (one way), so I just check GasBuddy to see who has the lowest price that’s on our way to/from work and we’ll stop there. I’m not going to go out of my way to save 2-5 cents per gallon though. Our grocery store also offers the 10 & 20 cent discounts, but I noticed that I was getting far less mileage using their gas (Kroger) as opposed to other independent stations! With Kroger I’d have to fill up every 5 days, but with the BP near work I’m only filling up every 8-10 days.

    • Wait, you get less mileage with gas from a different gas station? Hmmm. That’s strange, but I don’t think that’s something I would notice since I can go over a month without filling up sometimes. I do track the mpg and miles on a tank, which gas station type it was and where the station was in my transaction history, so I could probably try to do some guessing, but my driving patterns aren’t consistent enough for that to really mean something.

  7. I’m oblivious to the prices and I go to just one gas station near my home. and that’s it. Also, I went from a 49 MPG car to a 24 MPG car. I miss my diesel, but I love busing to work and my fast car now too! BTW, my speeding ticket was dropped by the judge this week in return for online traffic school. Only possible because of a 5 year clean driving record.

    • 49 MPG to 24 MPG? Wow! I think I’m going to stick with my car that averages 34 MPG :)

      w00t at having your speeding ticket dropped!

  8. I usually go to the same gas station every time I fill up, the Kroger where I get my groceries. I can get between 10-40 cents off per gallon depending on how much I spend on groceries the previous month. Also the gas station there is already consistantly cheaper than the other ones near my apartment, and I already make weekly trips there. Though overall I don’t save more than a couple dollars per fill-up, I do like the convenience of it being next to the grocery store.

    • Wow, you must spend a lot more than me on groceries if you can get 40 cents off per gallon! I’m all for going to convenient gas stations.

      • You can get double points if you buy gift cards. I always get gift cards at Kroger for weddings, holidays, etc, and to stores that I frequently shop at.

  9. In Ontario where I live, I always know where the cheapest gas is consistently: Ultramar, and there’s like 10 of them in my area. I drive along the highway, see their price, check it against the prices of other joints as I do errands in town, then end up getting gas at Ultramar. They have a guarantee re: offering the lowest price in an area — and unlike most stores, they seem to stick to it 99% of the time.

    As for the US, it’s pretty much cheaper anywhere in the States compared to here. I paid $1.165 a litre yesterday. That works out to $4.42 a gallon.

    • $4.42 per gallon? The closest gas station to me said $4.339 per gallon today. So you’re not paying that much more.

  10. I get gas from wherever it is convenient. I’ve tried doing the Costco thing, but the line is forever and my time is worth more than the minimal savings to be had.

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