Want to save money on a road trip? Check out GasBuddy to find the best gas prices.
Unless you’re driving a hybrid or an electric vehicle, gas is one of those evil necessities that’ll drain your wallet faster than a visit to Wrigley Field.
When I planned our first two Two Lane Gems tours I used RoadTrippers. One of its features is an estimated fuel cost calculator. Each time I’d add a destination I’d watch that number rise and I’d cringe as each extra mile translated into bigger expenses.
It didn’t stop me from adding that out-of-the-way destination. I figured that was the cost of doing business and I was on a mission. I wasn’t about to plan our trip based on how much gas was going to cost.
That’s just silly talk.
BUT, gas is a huge expense. And there’s little more frustrating than pulling off to fill your tank and then passing a station at the next exit or town that’s twenty cents cheaper.
Mile after mile, those cents add up to big dollars. When you want to calculate gas prices for a trip, I’ve got a favorite tool:
Gas Buddy shows gas prices near you that have been input and verified by users.
It began as a website in 2000 and iPhone and Android apps were added in 2009. Over the years it’s become an increasingly useful and accurate way to find the best gas prices.
You can use the website to calculate gas prices for a trip, see how prices compare across the country, and see historical data.
Mr. TLT and I swear by the Gasbuddy app to help us find the cheapest gas stations and it’s saved us gallons of money, both on the road and at home.
Here’s a quick tutorial on how to use the GasBuddy app and how you can find the best gas prices near you, whether you’re at home or on your next road trip.
All screen captures are from the Android app
Overview: What is GasBuddy?
GasBuddy is a website and an app for both iPhone and Android that lets you find gas prices in nearly real-time.
Gas prices are updated by users on the free GasBuddy app, and each listing will tell you how long ago it was updated. In urban areas, the gas price has often been updated within a few hours. Rural areas aren’t going to be updated as frequently.
While you can create an account and update prices yourself, you don’t have to if all you want to do is use the app.
With GasBuddy you can:
- Find the cheapest gas price
- Search by type of fuel
- Find the closest gas station
- Search for specific brands
- Find stations that sell beer and wine
- See which ones have air
- Include stations that require membership (Costco, Sam’s Club)
- Find propane
- Find restrooms
- Find restaurants
- Locate stations with convenience stores
How to use GasBuddy
In recent years GasBuddy has become increasingly easier to use. Previously you could only visit the website. Then you could use an app, but it just gave you a list of nearby gas stations with distances.
Now you can view a gas station map, filter by a number of criteria, and get directions. You can even earn points when you contribute by leaving reviews or updating prices.
It’s really a well-rounded tool that can make this road trip necessity easier.
Note: This should really go without saying, but ALWAYS have your navigator use GasBuddy while you’re driving. If you don’t have a navigator, pull over if you need to use the app.
Find Gas Near You
When you first open GasBuddy you can tap “Find Gas Near You” and it will bring up a list that’s closest to your current location. If you’d like to plan ahead, you can enter a location in the search field at the top of the screen.
Switch to Map View
On the top right corner of the screen is a map icon. When you tap on that, you’ll swtich to a map view.
Your location will be a blue dot and you’ll see prices at stations near you. This is really handy when you’re in an unfamiliar area.
Choose your fuel type
Do you need a specific type of fuel? You can filter for Regular, Midgrade, Premium Diesel, and E85.
Choose your brand
This filter comes in handy if you want to fuel up at a specific brand of station.
Mr. TLT and I have rewards cards at a few different brands, and sometimes we prefer one over the other depending on how many points or cents-off we’ve accrued.
Choose gas stations with amenities
Need to use the bathroom? Want to pick up some beer or wine for the room? Hungry?
Use the amenities filter to find stations with the amenities you need.
Check station details
If you want more information about a particular station, you can tap through to its detail page. This is also where you can leave a review if you’d like.
Gas Buddy Trip Calculator
When you’re planning a trip, visit the GasBuddy website to use their trip calculator.
You can enter your starting and ending points, as well as your vehicle information, and GasBuddy will estimate your total fuel costs.
Save more with Pay with GasBuddy
In addition to helping you find the best gas prices, Pay with GasBuddy Fuel Saver card can give you an additional discount.
To use the program, you connect your checking account to Pay with GasBuddy. They’ll send you a card in the mail, which you’ll then use at participating gas stations.
It looks like a credit/debit card. You insert it into the gas pump and enter your pin. If you want to track your gas mileage, you can input your odometer reading.
After you’ve finished pumping your gas, Pay with Gasbuddy will send you a notification letting you know how much you’ve saved. It’s typically anywhere from 3 to 5 cents per gallon.
Sometimes, it works in conjunction with other discount programs so you can save even more!
As you can see, GasBuddy makes it very easy to find the cheapest gas prices. You don’t even have to wait to go on a road trip to use this app; it comes in handy no matter where you are.
Do you have any favorite road trip apps? Please share!