here have not been many silver linings over the past year but one of them is that petrol fell to 1990 prices – even if most of us were not driving anywhere too much.

However, those days now appear to be well and truly over.

As the world starts to travel again, pushing up global demand for crude oil, petrol prices are on the march again.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says that average fuel price across state capital cities rose by 12 cents a litre last quarter, compared to the end of 2020.

So, once again, it is crucial to know every trick in the book to save money on petrol.

There are a bigger range of petrol discount options available than ever before. However, the two fundamentals of saving on petrol remain – you need to fill up at the right place, at the right time.

Mobile phone apps with up-to-the-minute data in every state except Victoria are making that process easier.

About one-in-five drivers now use apps when they are shopping for petrol.

Among the best national apps are Motormouth and FuelMap but there are many other good products available, including GasBuddy and PetrolSpy.

Most state governments have also created their own apps – FuelCheck in NSW, MyFuelNT and FuelWatch in WA – as have motoring clubs including NRMA, RACQ, RACV, RAA and RACWA.

Before you pull out of the driveway, make it a habit to check an app to see if the petrol price cycle is at its peak or trough.

A petrol price cycle is a movement in retail price from a low point to high point and back to a low point. In these cycles, prices steadily go down for a period followed by a sharp increase.

The cycles are the result of deliberate pricing policies of petrol retailers and are not directly related to changes in wholesale costs.

In 2019, cycle durations in capital cities ranged from a low of 13 days to a high of 38 days.

If the petrol price cycle is near its high, then try to hold off filling up until that changes.

Once you see prices nearer to the bottom of the cycle, use the app to see which local petrol stations are cheapest.

This week in south-west Sydney, there was a 38 cents a litre price difference between petrol stations a few kilometres apart. That is a potential saving of more than $22 on a 60-litre tank so, if you fill up weekly, it translates to savings of more than $1100 a year.

In Melbourne’s east, there were 20 cents a litre differences between various petrol stations.

The cheapest petrol is usually offered by the independent companies.

Recent research by the ACCC suggests the price gap between the big petrol chains and the independents is getting larger.

The average price of BP petrol in Sydney was 17 cents a litre more than the average price of Speedway fuel last year. In Melbourne, the Metro brand was on average 12 cents a year cheaper than BP.

If you prefer to stick with one of the main petrol brands, there are still savings to be had.

Regular grocery shoppers at Coles, Woolworths, IGA or a members of motoring organisations RACV and NRMA can get discounts, too.

Coles Express allows you to stack 4 cents a litre discount vouchers with 4 cents a litre member offers to the or Linkt toll-road apps in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to make an 8 cents a litre discount. If you also spend $20 or more in-store, they will give you 10 cents a litre off.

Woolworths offers 5 per cent off their Wish Gift Cards via various rewards programs and clubs, which you can then use at participating Caltex Woolworths petrol stations in tandem with their regular 4 cents a litre supermarket discount vouchers. That adds up to about a 10 cents a litre off.

Ritchie’s also owns about 60 IGA grocery stores on the east coast, most of which have a 4 cents a litre discount with local fuel stations.

Motoring clubs NRMARACRACQ and RACT have member offers with 3-6 cents a litre discount at partner chains, including Caltex, Puma, Better Choice and United.

And, finally, 7-Eleven offers its “fuel price lock” for app users, where you can lock away a cheap price for a week, effectively eliminating some of the ups and downs of the regular fuel price cycle.

The best option for you will depend on where you live, shop, drive and earn rewards.

However, doing a little research for the best prices and filling up at the right time can ultimately lead to savings of thousands of dollars.

Extracted in full from: How to save more than $1000 a year on petrol (