A combination of rising crude oil prices, bigger retail margins and a stronger global economy has meant Aussie petrol prices have continued to climb over the past month. The result? Aussies are having to spend an extra $20 a month on petrol compared to the same time last year.
If you're looking to save money at the bowser, here's a few apps that can save you big time.
FuelMap's opening welcome message tells you what it's all about: "A crowdsourced database containing petrol stations and fuel prices around Australia. All users are able to update station details and prices and therefore the information contained within this app should be used as a guide only."
Yes, a guide only, but in terms of crowdsourced prices, FuelMap is pretty impressive. It is easy to sort through the cheapest prices or closest stations and it gives you a wide field of view that displays user-sourced prices across the whole region you're after. You can also use it to get directions to the petrol station if you desire.
This one is less relevant for users in SA, the NT or Tasmania, but the 7-Eleven Fuel app - which you can download at the Apple Store and Play Store - is useful because it allows you to lock in local petrol prices for up to seven days. You simply select the fuel you're after and let the app show you the cheapest in your local area. Once that is determined you can lock in that price and head into any 7-11 within a week to redeem the offer. If petrol dips after you've locked the price in, no stress - you always pay the lowest price.
There are a few niggling issues - the first is that the app forces you to have location services on. That makes sense, but it also limits the field from which you can nab cheap petrol to a relatively small range (from what I can tell, less than 5km). It also doesn't help me quite so much if I am trying to look for cheap fuel near work or further out from the city - even though I have to go through both those locations if I were to drive. Second, prices aren't necessarily up-to-the-minute correct, so there is potential lag between a price changing at the store and on the app.
Check Fuel Prices
Most states in Australia have dedicated sites that allow you to check fuel prices on your mobile or on desktop. Here's where to go to quickly check the sort of prices you'll need to pay:
- SA: RAA
- NSW: Fuel Check
- VIC: RACV
- WA: FuelWatch
- ACT: Fuel Watch (prices via PetrolSpy)
- TAS: RACT
- NT: MyFuel
- QLD: Fair Fuel Prices
You can access PetrolSpy online or on your mobile device and this is, yet again, a service that allows users to self-report petrol prices around Australia. Why would anyone drive around reporting fuel prices? The draw card is that you can win a $25 fuel card by reporting the prices you see. PetrolSpy's map is one of the most comprehensive, along with FuelMap (mentioned above), though it is a little cluttered because of the sheer amount of petrol stations its user report and it can, at times, have wild fluctuations between the reported price and the actual price at the bowser.
Yeah, we don't call it 'Gas' down here but GasBuddy does work in Australia and can provide some respite from climbing petrol prices. GasBuddy does provide prices, but for the most part, it is a community-based app that requires users input to ensure prices are correct. The Sydney CBD was full of locations where I could find cheap petrol, but wen I checked prices closer to home, further outside of Sydney's CBD, I kept running into 'report price' issues for Unleaded petrol. Not one I would necessarily recommend straight up, but helpful in a pinch.
This story has been updated since its original publication.