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Gas APPeal: More and more consumers are turning to phone apps to save at the pump

Discount programs and phone apps have become a must for many struggling to keep gasoline in their vehicles.
Credit: Maksym - stock.adobe.com

TEXAS, USA — When Hollywood releases a "Mad Max" prequel in a couple of years, it probably won’t involve a lot of long, wordless shots of Charlize Theron or Tom Hardy frowning at their cell phones while switching between gas apps and trying to figure out the best way to “earn points.”

It’s not exactly exciting, but here we are. In 2022, "highway robbery" happens legally, but with snacks available for purchase, and being a “road warrior” apparently means being a thrifty consumer… for now, anyway.

In a few years, we may be all about desert demolition derbies and flame-throwing guitars for some reason, but one problem at a time, people.

The popularity of gas apps and loyalty clubs has skyrocketed in the last year, with the national average gas price currently hovering around $5 a gallon while experts predict no real relief any time soon.

And with summer officially here, as of Tuesday, many parents are looking for a way to hit the road and gain some family vacation memories without losing their children’s college tuition.

Here’s a quick roundup of some of the most popular gas apps. 

GasBuddy

The O.G. of gas apps, GasBuddy has been around (in website form at least) since 2000, is the most downloaded and gives you the basics right away, letting you know who has the cheapest gas in your area and if it’s worth it to drive past a few other stations. But it also offers some other features, like a trip cost calculator, outage tracker and vehicle recall info.

GasBuddy’s big push is their “Free Forever” gas card, which isn't required to use the app, but advertises “up to 25 cents off per gallon” and although it doesn’t involve a credit check, your bank info and driver license number are required if you want the card.  

Its Google Play Store rating is 4.3, with most of the complaints focusing on intrusive ads.

Mudflap

A gas app for trucking and commercial vehicles, if you’re looking for deals specifically on diesel fuel and a lot of it, this might be the app for you. It offers “up to 50 cents a gallon instant discount” with a rewards program and bonus fuel each month, without waiting for rebates.

Its Google Play Store rating is 3.9, with some users complaining about hard-to-reach customer service and frequently meager discounts.

Gas Guru 

Gas Guru is a pretty straightforward app that gives you all the basics, including easy price comparisons, a more detailed look at gas station amenities and the ability to search for cash discounts available from different locations.

The big difference here is that the prices are provided by the Oil Price Information Service, as opposed to being crowdsourced by other users. 

Its Google Play Store rating is currently 3.2, with many complaints centering around a buggy user interface. 

Upside

If bargain hunting and strategic refueling gives you an appetite, Upside is here for you. It describes itself as “a free app that gives you real cash back on gas, groceries and restaurants.”

Claim offers through the app, pay as usual with a credit or debit card, submit a photo of your receipt and cash out via PayPal, e-gift card or bank transfer. 

Its Google Play Store rating is currently at 4.4, with some complaining about inaccurate fuel prices and slow transaction times.

Credit: sofiko14 - stock.adobe.com

At the pump discounts

There are also discount programs available at various convenience store pumps without having to buy a soda or a snack to get the deal.

High Octane Rewards 

High Octane Rewards is a fairly straightforward program at participating DK/Alon stores. Sign up for a "loyalty ID number" which is basically your cell phone number and get 3 cents off per gallon by entering the number at the pump.

On Saturdays and Sundays, gas and diesel is discounted further, according to texts sent from the rewards program. 

Shell Fuel Rewards

Shell partnered with AAA to offer this program, which promises 30 cents a gallon off your first fill-up at Shell and you make your first transaction within 30 days of joining. In addition, AAA members get an extra 5 cents per gallon. 

Credit: Randall Case

Do any of these programs or apps work for you? Leave a comment on our Facebook page and let us know. 

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