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Gas: How to save on a road trip

How to plan your gas stops, which method of payment to use & your speed.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Whether it’s to the beach, the mountains, the East Coast, the West Coast, or somewhere in between, a whopping 90 percent of us have travel plans this summer. If your plans include a road trip, Consumer Reports has tips to help you save money, stay safe, and manage those unexpected bumps!

While many gas stations will offer a lower price if you pay with cash, a credit card with cash-back rewards on gas could be a better deal, especially if you’re spending more on gas than you typically would in a month.

And while you won’t be charged to “check a bag” when road-tripping, it is still a good idea to pack light so your car isn’t heavier—and therefore less fuel-efficient—than it needs to be.

You can also make your car more fuel-efficient by reducing aerodynamic drag. Take off your roof rack or bike rack if you’re not using it. And don’t hate us, but if you just stick to the speed limit, you’ll save fuel!

Consumer Reports’ tests show that cruising at 75 mph instead of 65 mph can cost 6 mpg or more. Driving the speed limit is also safer.

Speaking of safety, if you have mechanical trouble or a flat tire far from home, you’ll appreciate having roadside assistance, and it may save you money! Paying out of pocket for long-haul towing can run in the hundreds of dollars, while most roadside assistance plans cost around $35 to $120 per year.

Some newer cars come with roadside assistance for a period, and a few credit cards and auto insurance policies include it. Just make sure you’re covered before you hit the road.

And along with packing enough underwear, be sure to pack rapid antigen COVID-19 tests, N95 masks, and hand sanitizer! If you do get sick while traveling, head home. If you’re too far away, quarantine in a hotel, mask up, and order food in.

    

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