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Ways to Cut Fuel Expenses on Your Next RV Trip
You’re ready to take a road trip in your RV, but the high fuel price has you feeling stuck. It’s no secret the cost of fuel has been on the rise recently. This makes it harder and harder for people to travel in their RVs. But there is hope! There are many ways to save money on fuel during record-high fuel prices.
We’ll tell you how to use discount fuel cards for RV owners and give you even more fuel-saving tips to keep money in your pocket and still enjoy a fantastic RV trip.
The Best Diesel Fuel Discount Card
Open Roads (formerly known as TSD Logistics) is a discount fuel card for diesel only that uses an app to find discounts at participating commercial truck stops like Loves and Pilot.
This popular diesel fuel discount program issues you an EFS fuel card, a debit card tied to your bank account. The app will show you nearby truck stops that accept the card and the price.
The card is accepted in the commercial truck lanes, which the big rigs use. It does not work at the regular gas/diesel pumps for cars, so make sure your vehicle can take a high flow pump nozzle.
The savings can be significantly more than the 5% credit cards offer, and one of the best diesel deals you will find – 50 to 60 cents savings per gallon is not uncommon.
NOTE: There is a fee for reimbursement (10% of savings) and a transaction fee ($0.65) for each transaction. Even with the fees we regularly save a little over 10% using the Open Roads card.
Fuel Program Requirements
- The program is free and does not require a credit check.
- Social Security Number (SSN) and a bank account must be provided to apply.
READ NEXT: Get our full review and breakdown of the TSD Open Roads fuel card and find out why this is our go-to for saving on diesel fuel as RVers.
Alternative Diesel Fuel Card
Pay with GasBuddy is a similar free program that issues a debit card good on gas and diesel fuel.
GasBuddy savings aren’t as good as Open Roads (TSD fuel card), but they claim to be accepted at 95% of gas stations.
Diesel Fuel Discounts Included in Other Memberships
You may already be entitled to a discount on fuel as part of Good Sam and Escapees RV clubs.
Good Sam has partnered with Pilot FlyingJ for a $.05 gas and $.08 diesel discount. Escapees has an app to find participating gas stations and requires a $4 monthly fee for an average of $0.29/gallon discount on diesel and $0.12/gallon discount on gas. If you are already paying for one of these annual memberships, take advantage of this benefit.
Update: The Escapees Discount Fuel Program was discontinued Feb 2023.
Don’t overlook wholesale warehouses and grocery stores. Sam’s Club and Costco memberships give you access and discounts to their already consistently more affordable gas with locations all over the country.
Walmart’s membership program, Walmart+, gives $.05 off their often competitive gas price.
A Kroger shopper card can be used with their Fuel Points. One dollar spent at Kroger is equal to one point. One hundred points get you $.10 a gallon off at Kroger family gas station and even some Shell locations.
The Best Credit Card Rewards Program for RVers
Using a rewards or cashback credit card for fuel purchases can help you save money on your next RV trip.
The Citi Custom Cash is the best gas card offering 5% off your top spending category. When used exclusively at gas stations, you will get 5% back on up to $500 of gas per billing cycle (dropping to 1% on gas spent over $500). Also, note this card can be used in several different ways, but this is the best to maximize fuel savings.
Similarly, Discover card typically offers 5% back at gas stations during one quarter of the year as part of their quarterly savings program.
The Chase Freedom Flex card also usually has gas stations as a 5% category during one quarter.
NOTE: The categories for 2024 for the two above credit cards have not been announced, but past years indicate each of these credit cards will feature 5% back at gas stations for at least one quarter of 2024.
In addition, the Flex card also offers 5% back at gas stations for up to $6,000 in purchases for the first year you have the card.
(The quarterly categories for the Discover and Chase Freedom Flex cards have a limit of $1,500 which is eligible for cashback for the quarter. This applies to any purchases at a gas station, not just fuel.)
Have Monthly Fuel Spending Over $500 Per Month?
If you spend more than $500 per month at gas stations, it would be beneficial to have more than one Citi card (if you and a partner can both apply) or apply for both the Citi and Discover or Freedom Flex cards to give you more than $500 eligible for cashback.
NOTE: Credit cards can hurt your finances if you’re not financially responsible. Be sure you understand how credit works before applying. Applying for a credit card requires a credit check.
Fuel Discount Savings Apps
The GasBuddy app lets you find cheaper fuel prices nearby or along a route.
The app collects gas prices submitted by users to tell you the best prices along your route. This app is totally free and does not require the Pay with GasBuddy card mentioned above.
Mudflap is another app that shows gas station locations as part of their discount program, but payment is made through the app using your credit card or bank account.
It is aimed at truckers and requires a participating truck stop found in their app. You’ll also need a vehicle that can handle a high flow nozzle. Unlike the TSD card, there is no ‘pay-at-the-pump’ option. You must go in and provide a code to the fuel desk.
Gas Station Loyalty Rewards Programs
Most major gas station chains offer a rewards club with a fuel discount program. By signing up for these programs, you can save money on fuel every time you fill up.
Signing up is usually quick and requires filling out a small form. Getting a discount is generally as simple as typing in your Alternate ID (your phone number) at the pump. It makes saving easy once you are signed up for all your favorite gas stations.
Fill Up in States with Lower Gas Prices
Gas prices vary significantly from state to state. Some states have high gas prices while others have relatively low gas prices.
For example, the average price of diesel today (3/14/22) in Colorado is $4.64 per gallon as opposed to $6.28 per gallon in California. That is a huge difference of $1.64 per gallon.
AAA has a handy free map with color-coded states. A quick glance shows the most expensive states are Arizona and west all the way up the coast. The East coast is slightly better with the central states from Texas up to North Dakota and Minnesota having the best price of all the US.
If you are traveling through Illinois, it is better to fill up before and after because it is significantly more expensive than surrounding states.
Explore Local Attractions
You can save the most on RV fuel expenses by visiting the RV destinations in your own backyard!
The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Yosemite are some of the most visited national parks, but they can be hundreds or even thousands of miles away. You may be surprised by other options nearby with all the amenities you need.
By exploring closer to your home base, you can gain substantial cost savings. For example, diesel to and from our current location in New Mexico to Yellowstone would cost us $1,200 (yikes!). If we choose instead to go to Lost Dutchman State Park in Arizona, it is a much cheaper $370. Even better, a round trip to Guadeloupe Mountains National Park is only $112 in diesel.
Exploring close by or traveling slower is a great way to save on fuel costs, time, and stress. Instead of spending hours on the road, you can spend your time exploring the area around you.
Other Ways to Save and Conserve Fuel
Here are a few more quick tips to save money on gas and conserve the fuel you put in your tank.
Pay in Cash
If getting a discount gas card or app isn’t your style, consider paying in cash in-store. Many gas stations give discounts on cash, so they don’t have to pay credit card companies. These aren’t huge discounts compared to other options, but it is simple if you carry cash.
Keep Tires Inflated
Keeping your tires inflated properly saves on gas money. The U.S. Department of Energy says that you can save up to 3.3% on your fuel costs by doing so. That might not seem like a lot, but it adds up over time!
Reduce RV Weight
Keep your RV as light as possible for the best mileage. Even though most items weigh a small amount, they can add up fast. In addition, travel with empty tanks if possible to reduce your weight on long travel days.
Park in the Shade
Parking in the shade is a great way to reduce the amount of AC usage in your RV or tow vehicle, which in turn saves on gas. It keeps the inside of your vehicle cooler, but it also prevents the sun from damaging your RV’s exterior.
Planning your stops ahead of time to take the most direct route will also help cut down your miles and, ultimately, gas costs.
Use our RV Gas Cost Calculator to estimate fuel costs and budget appropriately for your upcoming trip!
The Way You Drive Makes a Difference
One of the easiest ways to save on fuel is by changing your driving habits. Gas mileage can vary drastically depending on how fast you drive, how far you push the pedal, and what kind of terrain you’re traveling over.
If you want to get better gas mileage, there are a few tricks that will help:
The Department of Energy has published several driving tips to save money.
Final Thoughts on Getting the Most Fuel Savings
Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a full-time RVer, there is no such thing as too much information about how to save on fuel expenses.
The tips we compiled are some of our best for saving money on gas, including the best fuel card for RV owners. You can even use these tricks if you’re not an RV owner and just want to save some money on your next road trip.
We recommend combining or ‘stacking’ some of these fuel savings ideas to get the ultimate savings!
We hope that it helps cut down on the cost of fueling up along your next adventure. The open roads await!
Want to learn more about how to go full-time RVing on a budget?
For tips on cheap RVing, including finding deals on campsites, calculating your fuel cost, and more – view our complete guide.
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