As oil prices continue to rise and pandemic conditions improve, local gas prices continue their recent increases this week.
According to Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, for the first time in several months, gas prices are higher now than they were one year ago.
Barton County prices were well above the state average Thursday at $2.41 per gallon, which is also 10-15 cents higher than surrounding counties, which are reporting between $2.26 and $2.30 per gallon. In Great Bend, stations were reporting between $2.33 and $2.39 per gallon as of Thursday morning.
“Many factors continue to push oil prices higher, but at the foundation of the rise is the fact that the coronavirus situation continues to improve, pushing global oil demand higher as production continues to lag, pushing U.S. gas prices higher,” said De Haan.
Kansas gas prices have risen three cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.26 per gallon as of Thursday morning, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 1,329 stations in Kansas. Gas prices in Kansas are 18.3 cents per gallon higher than a month ago and stand 9.9 cents per gallon higher than a year ago.
Statewide, According to GasBuddy price reports, the cheapest station in Kansas was priced at $1.89 per gallon Thursday, while the most expensive was $2.64, a difference of 74 cents per gallon.
Nationally, the average price of gasoline has risen three cents per gallon in the last week, averaging $2.50 per gallon this week. The national average is up 15.7 cents per gallon from a month ago and stands 7.4 cents per gallon higher than a year ago.
DeHaan said even though the COVID-19 situation is improving, with slowing oil production, the long-term outlook may not be positive for consumers, especially with slow job recovery.
“Until OPEC intercedes and raises oil production in the months ahead, motorists should continue to expect rising gas prices, adding misery to the dire economic situation as millions remain jobless,” DeHaan said.
“The news won’t likely improve in the months ahead, with continued increases in gas prices as OPEC maintains a tight balance between reduced demand and supply, keeping prices on the higher side,” he added.
Study suggests 31% of Americans thinking more about gas savings since start of pandemic
Americans have always cared about gas prices given the nature of its volatility; it suddenly goes up, it suddenly goes down, all without an obvious explanation. Tuesday, GasBuddy released its annual Pump Habits Study that found that nearly a third of Americans care more now about saving money on gas than before the start of the pandemic.
“The more unpredictable life is, the more people think about gas prices,” says Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis. “Nobody can disagree that the past 10 months has been as unpredictable as it could get.”
Despite the major disruptions to traffic, commutes and household incomes that have occurred over the past year (all declining), GasBuddy’s 2021 Pump Habits survey found many of the same money-wasting behaviors when it comes to buying gas are still prevalent, leading consumers to overpay by as much as $300 per year.
Here are the four ways people are still overpaying:
Not Paying Attention
Eighty-three percent of drivers admitted to purchasing gas, only to drive by a cheaper gas station moments later.
“Shopping around for gas is one of the most valuable ways to save money. Gas prices commonly vary by over 10 cents,” said De Haan.
Drivers can save $200 per year by checking gas prices in their area before their fill-ups.
Going to the Same Place Because of Perceived Ease
Four out of five drivers go to the same station regularly; 58% of drivers say they do it because they think it has the cheapest gas around, but nearly 30% of them say that the reason they go to the same station is because it’s the closest one to their work or home, regardless of price.
“Going to a station because of location or convenience is a big money-waster, as drivers are missing out on the potential discounts from stations just around the corner,” says De Haan.
Overlooking Loyalty Programs
Another way to help bring down the price at the pump is to sign up for gas station loyalty programs. However, 44% of drivers do not belong to any gas station loyalty program.
“There are many gas station and grocery store loyalty programs out there that give you rewards on every purchase to use at the gas pump,” says De Haan. “If you frequent particular brands, signing up for one could save you nearly $50 a year. Many of these programs even stack with your payment method.”
Not Swiping Smart
How drivers pay for gas can largely affect how much they save. Credit cards continue to be the most popular payment method (46%) in line with previous years. Failure to make payments on a cashback credit card negates any savings they may have received due to the interest accumulated with missed payments.
Using debit cards is the second most popular way to pay at the pump (24%); however they often get charged the credit price and have no cashback rewards associated with them. Six percent of respondents use cash at the pump.
“The price is only half the story, the way we pay is other,” says De Haan.
Drivers can save $50-$100 per year on average by changing their payment method to a savings card option at the gas pump and making sure they pay off their credit cards in full every month.
Results were based on 2,362 responses from a GasBuddy survey issued on January 14. Amount of savings calculated by using Pay with GasBuddy data, including a 12-gallon average fill-up and an average gas price of $2.49/gal.