AAA is predicting fewer consumers will travel by car this Fourth of July - primarily due to higher gas prices. If you're braving the road this weekend, here are some tips to save some dough.
First, pay in cash if possible. Gas station owners get walloped by transaction fees for every credit card purchase. Many are offering discounts of up to 14 cents per gallon for consumers who pay by cash. Ask if there's a discount before you fuel up.
Don't count out your credit cards just yet, though. Some credit cards offer gas incentives. A good cash-back card or gas rewards card gives you about 3% back on purchases at the pump. Given the current average of more than $4.00 a gallon, that's like getting a discount of 12 cents a gallon.
Also, consider staying at hotels that offer gas incentives. If your road trip includes a hotel stay, check for promotions to offset the cost of driving there. Hotels and bed and breakfasts are worried consumers will stay home, so many are offering $25.00 station gift cards, or knocking a percentage off your room rate.
Do your best to pack light. Just because you're driving doesn't mean you can load up everything but the kitchen sink. Every 100 pounds of extra weight in your car reduces fuel economy by about 2%. And that rooftop cargo carrier knocks off another 5%. Knocking out 100 extra pounds of beach chairs and other stuff would save about $17.00 for a 1,300-mile trip.
Finally, keep calm in traffic. While this may sound difficult, it's important to remember that aggressive driving is a huge waste of fuel. Rapid acceleration, hard braking and speeding can easily reduce your fuel economy by more than 10%. Being a kinder driver could save you nearly $200 over the course of the summer.
For more tips on saving money on your summer vacation, as well as additional personal financial advice, click here to visit www.SmartMoney.com
By Kelli Grant