Over the recent Christmas and new year period, my beloved and I visited my family in northern New South Wales. As we approached town, we realised that we would soon need petrol. So, I kept my eye out for prices at all of the petrol stations along the way.
Throughout the roughly 5 kilometre stretch, I observed a significant range of petrol prices throughout the town of up to 16 cents per litre for standard 91 octane unleaded fuel. Needless to say, I was pretty dumbfounded by this price difference within such a small radius.
This made me think about how silly I’ve been in the past by not shopping around for my petrol. As a flawed consumer, I would often just go to the most convenient petrol station without giving a thought to the possibility that I could be being ripped off unknowingly.
Fortunately, for me and you, there are plenty of options available these days for checking local petrol prices before filling up. The below options are just a few of my favourites:
Fuel Check (NSW)
MotorMouth (available as app)
PetrolSpy Australia (available as app)
USA and Canada
GasBuddy (USA and Canada)
These days it’s pretty easy to shop around for fuel prices. The availability of fuel price comparison websites and apps has reduced the need to physically compare fuel prices significantly.
However, it is important to keep in mind the distance you’ll need to drive to get the cheapest price.
If you’re going to need to drive 5 kilometres to save 4 cents a litre, then chances are you’ll spend more on the fuel used to get to the cheapest station than you’ll save by going there.
Another thing to think about is whether you can incorporate topping up your fuel into an existing trip to an area with lower fuel prices.
For example, the cheapest fuel prices in my area are usually about 4 kilometres away, yet my closest petrol station is 800 metres away.
When the difference in price is only a few cents per litre, it’s not worth me driving to the cheapest fuel station to get fuel; however, when I do have a need to drive that distance to go to the library or buy seafood, etc, it is worth it for me to fill up with the cheapest fuel whilst in this area.
So far, using fuel price check websites and apps to find the cheapest prices has saved me $2-$7 per fill up. On average, we fill up once every three weeks. So, on an annual basis this is equivalent to saving $35-$121. This might not sound like a lot, but I’d much prefer it be in my/your pocket than someone elses!