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There’s good news for those traveling this summer: gas prices are significantly lower than last year.
“What a difference a year makes,” said Andrew Gross, a spokesman for AAA, a member organization for motor and recreational travel.
Since Friday, national average a gallon of gas is $3.58, down from $5 a year ago, according to AAA.
Last year’s high prices made headlines and even prompted politicians at the state and federal levels to call for them gas tax holiday.
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This year, those concerns have subsided. Barring any surprises during hurricane season, the outlook for gas prices is mostly stable, Gross said.
“Right now, we don’t see anything pushing prices up or down,” Gross said.
The national average will likely remain in the $3.50 per gallon range, he said.
That’s good news for travelers because prices in other categories, such as airfare and hotels, have risen this year, according to Ted Rossman, principal analyst at Bankrate and CreditCards.com.
A recent Bankrate survey found this out 63% of adults plan to take a summer vacation this year, up from 61% last year.
“People want to go somewhere, they want to do something,” Rossman said. “There’s still a lot of pent-up demand that was boosted during the pandemic.”
Still, higher costs are also forcing people to look for ways to save, he said.
A Bankrate survey found this out 80% of travelers plan to adjust their plans due to inflation.
Choosing to drive instead of fly was one of the most common changes, Rossman said. Other ways people want to cut costs are by choosing cheaper accommodation or destinations or traveling for fewer days.
Even though gas prices aren’t as high this summer, there are still a few ways to consider increasing your savings if you or your family are planning a road trip.
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Some credit cards can give you up to 5% cash back on gas, according to Rossman. That includes brands like Chase Freedom Flex and Discover it Cash Back, he said, which offer that rate from July through September.
Sam’s Club also offers certain cards that allow consumers to earn money back on gas.
It’s also worth checking the perks your existing credit cards may offer, Rossman said.
“You can have a good gas rewards credit card and not even realize it,” Rossman said.
It should be noted that it’s generally best to avoid gas-branded cards, which can have high 30% annual interest rates and limited discounts on gas purchases, he said.
In addition to using a credit card with good gas rewards, drivers can save by using apps to help them find better gas prices, such as Upside or GasBuddy.
Drivers should also look into bidding where they can. A credit card can offer 5 percent cash back on gas, and a gas station app can provide a 10 percent offer per gallon, Rossman said.
“That’s two ways to save instead of one,” he said.
Rental cars are also comparatively cheaper this year, Rossman said.
If you’re thinking about renting a car, be sure to double check that your credit card already offers insurance.
“Many times, credit cards have various travel benefits built into them that people may not even realize they have,” Rossman said, which can also include provisions for trip delays or cancellations, as well as lost or delayed baggage.