How to Make the Most of Australia’s Record-Low Petrol Prices

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petrol pricing
Image: Getty Images

If you’re looking for some light in these grim times, one could point to the dramatic drop in petrol prices around the country. The ACCC has released a new report showing just how far it’s dropped but warns some petrol stations are still reaping in high profit margins. Luckily, there are some tools you can use to find the cheapest price in your area.

The ACCC’s report found the average price across Australia’s major cities for the June quarter came in at 109.0 cents per litre (cpl) — a stark drop of 28.8 cpl from the previous quarter.

For regional Australians, the figure is less enticing as it sat at 116.5 cpl, higher than the average across the major cities.

accc petrol prices report
Image: ACCC

For many, a dollar for a litre of petrol is something of a bygone era but a perfect storm of falling oil prices amid a global pandemic has seen its welcome return.

While the news is mostly good, the ACCC’s chair, Rod Sims, said analysis of the prices revealed that while the global cost of oil had sunk to all-time lows, it wasn’t necessarily being reflected in consumer petrol prices.

“Many Australian motorists benefited from lower petrol prices over the first half of this year, but we have some concerns about the higher gross margins that petrol retailers seem to be holding on to,” Sims said in a media release.

“While less petrol being sold during COVID-19 restrictions may be a contributing factor to the record high gross retail margins, we’re not convinced that this fully explains the levels we’re seeing.”

While there’s really not much we can do about a potential unfair inflation of prices on an everyday level, there are tools to make sure you’re at least getting the best price in your area.

How to find the cheapest petrol price in your area

To make sure you’re not getting ripped off at the bowser, the ACCC recommends you use apps to figure out where the best prices are.

“The ACCC has long supported fuel price transparency schemes, as real-time price information helps motorists find the best deals on offer. We want consumers buying from petrol stations with the cheapest fuel as it rewards the price-competitive retailers,” Sims said.

“Fuel price transparency schemes are particularly relevant to motorists in the larger capital cities as the petrol cycles see prices fluctuate day-to-day.”

While most of Australia’s states and territories have committed to implementing petrol pricing transparency schemes, its usefulness varies depending where you are.

NSW is the only state to offer its own petrol pricing app, called NSW Fuel Check, but there are others that use a mixture of government-supplied data and crowd-sourced data.

Some of these apps include Fuel Map Australia, Petrol Spy Australia, Fair Fuel, MotorMouth and Gaspy. Each app’s performance will depend on the data supplied to it, whether it’s from users or government agencies so it’s best to give them all a try out and see which one works best for you.

The savings might only be minimal but after a number of refills, it’ll really start to add up.

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