No matter how often you drive, fluctuating gas prices can be frustrating. If you’ve ever filled up your tank—only to see gas prices drop dramatically the next day—you may be all-too-familiar with this annoyance. The same applies if you’ve ever put off filling up your tank and were seemingly punished by a spike in gas prices the very next day.
These days, a variety of apps, such as flight tracker apps, and platforms make it possible to shop around for the best prices on goods and services. Why shouldn’t we have the same ability to shop around for the cheapest gas?
Actually, you do have the ability to shop around for gas using a platform known as GasBuddy. Learn more about GasBuddy, how it works, and how using it could benefit you.
GasBuddy: The Basics
GasBuddy has been around in its same basic form since 2000; of course, at that time, there were no smartphones or apps. Instead, the platform relied on a website database where users could report gas prices at different gas stations across the country in real-time. Users could then search their area for the cheapest prices.
Over the years, GasBuddy has evolved quite a bit—but its basic function remains the same: to help users find cheap gas. In recent years, GasBuddy has also formed partnerships that have allowed them to offer additional services to uses, including Pay With GasBuddy and Park With GasBuddy.
How Does it Work?
GasBuddy can be accessed either via the (mobile-friendly) website or directly through the free GasBuddy app, which is available for Android, BlackBerry, and iPhone. There is no membership required to begin using GasBuddy; you can simply enter your desired city or ZIP code to begin viewing gas prices in your area. You can also enable GPS-based tracking on the GasBuddy app to automatically be shown gas prices in your area, even while traveling.
So, how does GasBuddy keep its prices up-to-date? It relies mostly on user data; those who choose to create GasBuddy memberships (more on that in a minute) are able to log in and report gas prices in real-time. In addition to user data, some gas stations have partnerships with GasBuddy that allows them to automatically update their fuel prices as they rise and fall.
In addition to being able to view gas prices near you or enter a specific city/ZIP code, GasBuddy also offers an interactive map that makes it easy to see gas prices along a specific route of travel. This can come in handy if you’re on a road trip and trying to plan out where to stop for fuel.
GasBuddy users can also check out reviews for gas stations that have been left by members. This can make it easier to find fuel stops with clean bathrooms, great food, free Wi-Fi, or other amenities.
GasBuddy App vs. Website
The GasBuddy app and the website don’t differ too much, though most people will get the best use out of having the app on their smartphone rather than having to manually go to the GasBuddy website every time they need to find cheap gas.
One feature that the GasBuddy website does offer that the app currently does not is the “Trip Cost Calculator,” which allows users to estimate the total fuel costs for a trip. Users can simply enter their starting point and destination, as well as information about their vehicle’s mpg ratings, to calculate an estimated fuel cost for the trip. Users can also select to receive a one-way estimate or a round-trip one.
According to a June 2019 interview with a GasBuddy Senior Petroleum Analyst, GasBuddy is currently exploring options to add the “Trip Cost Calculator” or a similar feature to their app.
Participating as a GasBuddy Member
In addition to allowing non-members to access current gas prices and fuel station reviews, there is also the option to create a GasBuddy membership and begin participating by leaving reviews, reporting fuel prices, and more. There is never any cost to create or maintain a GasBuddy membership—and members actually have access to some additional features (like Pay With GasBuddy) that can save them even more money at the pump.
Reporting Fuel Prices and More
GasBuddy relies heavily on reports from its members to keep their information on gas prices as updated as possible. Members can keep the service going strong by reporting prices at their local gas stations. This is easy to do with the app, but obviously, you shouldn’t do it while you’re driving. Many members will update prices as they stop to fill up.
Members also have the ability to leave reviews of fuel stations, which can come in handy to other members. If a gas station has exceptional cleanliness or a great cup of coffee, consider making note of this in your review. Once published, your review will be immediately accessible by other members.
Another benefit of reporting fuel prices and leaving reviews for gas stations as a member is the ability to earn points by doing so. These points can be redeemed for discounts on fuel or used to purchase raffle tickets in a weekly drawing that GasBuddy runs; the winner of this drawing receives a $250 gas card.
Using Pay With GasBuddy
Members also have the ability to save even more on their fuel by enrolling in a free program called Pay With GasBuddy. This is not a credit card, but a free payment card that links to your checking account to pay for gas. The perk is that when you use your Pay With GasBuddy card, you’ll automatically enjoy 5 cents off per gallon at participating fuel stations. And as an added bonus, you’ll save 10 cents per gallon the first time you fill up at a participating location. Want more savings? Check out how to book cheap flights.
Enrolling in Pay With GasBuddy is quick and can be done either on the GasBuddy website or mobile app. You will need to provide checking account information, as this is where your fuel payments will be deducted when you use your card. You’ll also need to create a unique “driver ID” number, which is the PIN you’ll enter when you pay with your card. Once you’ve enrolled, your Pay With GasBuddy card will be mailed to you for free. It really is as simple as that!
Earning Special Deals With GasBack
GasBuddy members can earn even more discounts on their fuel by participating in the GasBack program. GasBuddy has formed a number of partnerships with major brands, including several luggage brands, that provide incentives to members. For example, members will often receive emails notifying them of special GasBack offers; by clicking on and completing an offer, members can instantly receive incentives in the form of discounted or free gas.
Members should be aware that all GasBack incentives are redeemed using a Pay With GasBuddy card—so if you don’t have one already, you’ll need to enroll in order to take advantage of any GasBack offers.
Park With GasBuddy
Another perk offered to GasBuddy members is the option of using Park With GasBuddy. This feature allows users to purchase discounted parking ahead of time while enjoying the added perk of earning GasBack points with each purchase.
To use Park With GasBuddy, users should enter the “My Car” section of the app and search by parking by entering their location. From there, you can “reserve” a parking start and end time, choose a spot, and book instantly. When using a Pay With GasBuddy card, the parking cost is automatically deducted from the checking account associated with the card.
Benefits of Using GasBuddy
Whether you drive a little or a lot, there are many benefits of using the GasBuddy platform.
Stay on Top of Changing Fuel Price Trends
The unpredictability of fuel costs can be frustrating. However, the GasBuddy app makes it easy to see trends in your area; if prices are on the rise, you can decide to fill up before they increase or wait things out until prices fall back down. The GasBuddy app also allows you to sign up for “price hike notifications,” so you can be alerted right away if prices in your area are beginning to rise.
Find the Cheapest Gas Near You
No matter where you are, GasBuddy makes it easy to locate the cheapest gas in your area. Using the GPS function on your phone, the GasBuddy app can automatically populate a list of nearby gas stations and their most recently updated fuel prices. You can then filter the list by distance, price, or even quality of gas. GasBuddy is truly the easiest and most reliable way to find cheap gas everywhere you go.
Find the Closest Gas Station in an Unfamiliar Area
If you’re running low on fuel in an unfamiliar area, the GasBuddy app can also be a lifesaver by showing you the closest gas stations based on your GPS location. This can really come in handy if your fuel light is on and you have no idea where the nearest gas station is. The GasBuddy app also has a map feature that allows you to view gas stations along your route.
Locate a Gas Station With Specific Amenities
Because GasBuddy features member reviews, taking the time to read reviews can help you find fuel stations in your area with specific amenities. For example, if you’re looking for a gas station that has clean bathrooms or a restaurant attached, you can use the app to find one. GasBuddy doesn’t currently have a way to filter gas stations based on amenities, though, so you’ll need to read through reviews manually to find what you’re looking for.
Plan Fuel Stops on an Upcoming Trip
If you have a road trip coming up, consider using GasBuddy to plan out your fuel stops along the way. Doing so can save you money by allowing you to select the gas stations with the cheapest gas and other amenities you need. And of course, having your stops planned out can make your trip go more smoothly while reducing your stress.
Earn Additional Benefits as a Member
In addition to being able to view gas prices and reviews without registering for a GasBuddy account, members have access to a number of extra perks. Signing up for a GasBuddy membership is completely free and takes just a few minutes. From there, you can take advantage of additional fuel savings by using free programs like Pay With GasBuddy, GasBack, and Park With GasBuddy.
Potential Drawbacks of Using GasBuddy
While there are many advantages of using GasBuddy, there are a few potential drawbacks to consider before installing this app or deciding to use the GasBuddy website.
App Reliance on Wi-Fi or Data Connectivity
If you’re on-the-go and don’t have reliable Wi-Fi or cell phone data, you may have trouble using the app. This usually isn’t an issue if you’re in a relatively populated area, but more rural areas with sparse cell service or Wi-Fi access can be a problem. In these instances, you may not be able to use any of the GasBuddy app features until you’re in an area with better service.
May Not Always Be 100% Up-to-Date
Because GasBuddy relies mostly on pricing updates from users, there is no guarantee that the price you see on the app is completely up-to-date. This is especially true when you consider just how suddenly fuel prices can rise or fall. However, GasBuddy does make it easier to determine which prices are most likely to be current by displaying how recently the posted price was updated by a user. For example, you can see if a price was updated less than an hour ago or six hours ago.
Some participating fuel stations also keep their prices on GasBuddy up-to-date by partnering with the app and thus feeding their updated fuel prices directly into the app itself (rather than relying on user data).
Some Posted Prices May Be “Member-Only”
Another potential drawback to keep in and when using the GasBuddy app is that sometimes, the cheaper fuel prices listed are “member-only” prices. Some stores require a membership to use their fuel pumps or take advantage of special pricing (such as Costco), so the prices posted at these locations may not be accessible to non-members. To combat this issue, GasBuddy has added the option to report prices as “member-only” so that this information is displayed to users when comparing fuel prices.
Still, if the reporting user fails to check the “member-only” box, other users could still be misled by inaccurate and member-only pricing.
GasBuddy Cards Not Accepted Everywhere
For those thinking about using the Pay With GasBuddy card, it’s also important to understand that this card isn’t universally accepted at every pump. While it is accepted at most locations, it’s always a good idea to have a back-up form of payment available just to be safe. Of course, if you can’t use your Pay With GasBuddy card, you won’t get to enjoy the per-gallon discount—so you may end up paying more for your fuel.
Ads Can Be Frustrating
The GasBuddy app has ads, and there is no option to go ad-free. Some users have reported that the ads can be disruptive to using the app, so this may be something to consider before you decide to download it.
Should You Start Using GasBuddy?
Still not sure whether you should start using GasBuddy? There are a few things to consider. For starters, remember that you have two main options for using GasBuddy. You can choose to create a free membership (which unlocks additional perks) or use the platform’s basic features without creating an account.
There really isn’t anything to be lost by using GasBuddy without creating an account. You can either install the free app on your phone or use the mobile-friendly website to find cheap gas in your area at any time. You can also read reviews of fuel stations and find gas stations based on distance, price, or fuel quality without creating a membership.
What about creating a membership? Doing so is free, and you only need to provide limited personal information to do so. From there, you’ll have the ability to partake in additional GasBuddy programs, such as Pay With GasBuddy and GasBack. As a registered user, you’ll also be able to leave reviews for gas stations and report updated pricing information to help others.
If this sounds like something you’d enjoy, then there’s really nothing to be lost by creating a GasBuddy account, either. If you decide to enroll in Pay With GasBuddy, however, there are some things to consider. For starters, you’ll need to provide your checking account information—so be aware of the inherent risk involved in providing payment information over even a secure server.
Furthermore, while you’ll enjoy a discount of 5 cents per gallon when you use your Pay With GasBuddy card, this may not be worth it if you already have a credit card that rewards you for buying fuel. You’ll need to compare the benefits and determine which is better for your needs.
Additional Tips For Saving on Fuel Costs
In addition to using a platform like GasBuddy to find the best prices on gas in your area, there are some tips and tricks you can follow to help you save on gas.
Maintain Your Car
A little preventative maintenance can go a long way when it comes to improving your vehicle’s fuel economy. Make sure your engine is tuned up regularly and that you schedule routine oil changes. At least once a month, check your tire pressure and add air as needed. Properly inflated tires can have a major impact on your fuel economy.
Reduce Excess Bulk
When was the last time you cleaned out your car? If it’s been awhile, removing excess bulk can actually improve your fuel economy. That sporting equipment or luggage you haven’t used in months adds unnecessary weight and drag to your car, so why keep lugging it around?
Drive the Speed Limit
The optimal speed for fuel economy is typically around 55-60 miles per hour. When you push 70 or even 80 miles per hour, your fuel economy takes a sharp nosedive. By sticking to posted speed limits and never driving faster than you need to (especially on the highway), you can optimize your fuel economy. And of course, you’ll stay safer on the road and be less likely to be issued a speed citation. It’s a win-win for everyone!
Use Eco-Mode (If Available)
Many newer cars have fuel-saving features, such as an “eco-mode” or a mode that will automatically shut off the engine when the vehicle has idled for a certain amount of time. If your vehicle is equipped with these features, use them to save on fuel and reduce your carbon footprint in the process.
Minimize Heat/AC Usage
Using your vehicle’s heat or air conditioning also has a negative impact on your fuel economy, so be mindful of how often you use it. Rolling the windows down on a hot day may be the better option, especially if you’re driving on city streets. At highway speeds, however, having the windows rolled down can increase drag—so you may actually be better off using your vehicle’s fan instead.
Consider a Carpool
Share your ride and your fuel costs with other commuters who have similar places to go. There are plenty of carpooling services available that will match you with other drivers and passengers based on your destination and times of travel. Carpooling can not only be a great way to save on fuel costs, but to cut down on gas emissions and reduce wear and tear on your vehicle as well!
Overall, GasBuddy is one of the better (and free!) platforms out there that makes it easy for you to stay on top of changes in fuel costs and locate the cheapest gas near you. Whether you choose to use GasBuddy for these purposes alone or take advantage of additional features (such as Pay With GasBuddy and GasBack), you can save big on your fuel costs.