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How To Get Free Or Discounted Gas

The price of gas goes up and down, but there's one thing you can always count on: As long as you have a car, you're going to need to fill it up. While many other maintenance issues come and go, fuel is constant. Unless you have your oil well, refinery and personal filling station, you're always going to have to pay someone else to feed your car.

Depending on where you live and how often you have to drive, that constant pain at the pump can be debilitating. For low-income car owners, in particular, having to shell out $30-$40 every time you fill up can be a huge drain on your limited resources.

Is there any relief for low-income families that need a personal vehicle, but struggle to keep it going? Thankfully, yes! You can save or even find free gas for your car.

Vouchers and gas money
Several nonprofit organizations will help low-income individuals and families obtain free or cheap fuel. The assistance is often temporary but can help during particularly hard times.

However, beware: some popular programs don't fully pass the smell test. Free Gas USA Inc and FreeGasHelp.com both have not updated their websites in several years and have had complaints filed against them. Free Gas USA, in particular, appears to have a combative relationship with the Better Business Bureau, which is a concern. If you plan to approach these organizations, be aware and be careful.

We do recommend the following:

The Salvation Army. Many local Salvation Army branches operate what they call their Basic Needs program. This program helps low-income families cover basic needs when they need it most. You may be able to obtain vouchers from your local Salvation Army branch.

Advertise on your car. If you do find you drive often, you can use your car as advertising space for a little extra cash. Companies will pay you to run advertising campaigns on your vehicle, as long as you drive a lot of miles on a regular basis. Earnings can be anywhere from $100 to $700, depending on the advertising campaign, your mileage and how many impressions your car generates. Reputable companies that do this include the following:

Carvertise
Wrapify
adverCar

Seek help from local churches. Most local churches provide assistance that may include helping struggling families in their communities pay for critical expenses. You may be required to attend church service, but it can't hurt to try.

Cheap or discounted gas
Your best bet to stretch your dollar is to use programs that give you free or discounted fuel. Some programs use a point system (e.g., points toward gas purchase for making other purchases) and other rewards programs.

Buy discounted fuel cards. Websites that sell cheap and sometimes heavily discounted fuel cards exist. These are like gift cards, except they only work to buy at specific gas stations. Sites where you can find discount cards include Groupon, CardCash, and GiftCardGranny.

Join a rewards program. Most gas companies and many grocery stores provide fuel rewards programs. You can save several cents per gallon by joining the rewards programs, and they are often free to join.

Use a credit card with fuel rewards. If you can obtain a credit card, you will find that many offer points towards spending, usually through money back or gift cards. Before signing up for a credit card, however, make sure you understand how to avoid credit card debt. Credit cards are not free money, and do come with some risk, but can be highly beneficial if you use them responsibly.

Use an app to find cheap gas. Dealers are always competing. Phone apps will help you find the lowest prices in your area. Apps that will help you locate cheap deals include:

GasBuddy
Gas Guru
Waze

Drive a little further outside of town. Fuel is often cheaper outside the city. In many cases, it may make sense for you to drive a few miles out of your way, as you may save money. You'll burn a little fuel going a bit further out, but you may find a deal that's cheaper by 10-25 cents a gallon, which can be a pretty big deal. You'll want to buy a full tank to get the most savings on your trip and combine errands if possible.

Change your driving habits
You can stretch your budget by changing the way you drive. Here are a few cost-saving tips that can help you lower your costs:

Keep your tires properly inflated. Deflated tires make your car work harder to move. Properly inflated tires can save you around 12 cents per gallon.[1]

Accelerate faster. Contrary to popular wisdom, slow acceleration uses more fuel, because your engine works harder to get up to speed to switch gears and uses more fuel in lower gears. Instead, try to accelerate faster, without going dangerously fast, of course. Accelerating too quickly will also hurt the fuel economy. Instead, accelerate at a good pace that brings you up to 50 mph in 15 seconds.

Close the windows at high speed. Open windows will create drag, which in turn requires you to use more fuel. At higher speed, close the windows and run the A/C.

Avoid ethanol fuel blends when possible. Despite what you may have heard, ethanol is not the ideal fuel. Instead, ethanol burns less efficiently. Ethanol blends will burn through faster than 100% gasoline, meaning you'll pay more over time.

You'll always need to fill your tank, but with some planning and a few good ideas, you can do it for less. Good luck!

Notes
1. "Saving Money" . RightPSI.com