Rising fuel costs certainly aren’t making the owner of your local servo richer. Turbo-charged fuel prices are the result of an unfortunate combination of factors. The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) – the world’s largest supplier of oil – is restricting its supply of oil onto world markets. The COVID-19 pandemic has fuelled supply chain issues, and the invasion of Ukraine by Russia – one of the world’s leading oil producers – has added to soaring prices.
The upshot is that the price of Brent crude oil – the global benchmark for oil costs – has skyrocketed. As a guide, Brent crude was sitting at $US94 per barrel on 25 February 2021 – just prior to Russia’s attack on Ukraine. By early March, it had leapt to $US124 per barrel.
The bad news is that petrol prices aren’t expected to hit reverse gear any time soon. That leaves it to motorists to drive their dollar further by hunting for the lowest fuel prices possible. And it can be done using fuel apps.
While some once-popular apps like GasBuddy no longer operate in Australia, newcomers to the line-up are filling the gap. They can also help fill the hole in your bank account left by higher petrol prices.
As a guide to potential savings, the FuelCheck NSW app revealed that in Parramatta to the west of Sydney CBD, fuel costs in early March ranged from $1.75 to $1.89 per litre for unleaded petrol. That’s a difference of 14 cents per litre at servos separated by just a few kilometres. So there can be healthy savings up for grabs even if it means driving slightly further afield to fill up. With this in mind, here are a number of apps that can help you put more in the tank for less.
Availability and rating: iOS (3.2) and Android (3.4)
How it works: MotorMouth relies on roaming drivers, major fuel retailers, and service station operators to provide details of the price of fuel at an outlet. Users who submit prices are rewarded with credits that can be exchanged for premium features within the app.
MotorMouth claims to report prices for around 4,500 service stations Australia-wide, using a colour-coded system where servos with prices in the cheapest price band are indicated by a green dot, mid-range prices are coloured yellow, and the most expensive prices are shown in red dots. Tapping on a coloured dot reveals the site details and fuel price.
Availability and rating: iOS (3.4) and Android (3.5)
How it works: Petrol Spy also relies on users to submit fuel costs at various service stations. By sending in a report, contributors go in the daily draw for a $25 fuel card. The app includes historical fuel price cycle graphs for unleaded and E10 fuel prices.
Fuel Map Australia
Availability and rating: iOS (4.6) and Android (4.5)
How it works: Fuel Map is another crowd-sourced database of petrol stations and fuel prices nationally. It also shows real-time fuel prices for Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland, sourced from government resources.
Locations of petrol stations are shown on the in-app map as a branded pin with the last known fuel price displayed above. A slide-in site list can be used to find the cheapest petrol price in your area.
The Fuel Map app comes with a useful fuel log feature to track your fuel purchases as well as your vehicle’s fuel economy.
Availability and rating: iOS (4.8) and Android (4.7)
How it works: The app searches the five closest 7-Eleven fuel stores near you, noting your preferred fuel type, and displaying the best local price. A Fuel Price Lock feature lets users select the type of fuel they want, then search for the best local fuel price, and lock it in for up to seven days. 7-Eleven claims this feature has saved drivers across Australia over $24 million since 2016.
While the 7-Eleven app only covers its own service stations, users can pocket more than savings on fuel. A loyalty feature offers motorists a reward on their seventh visit, and eligible purchases can earn Velocity Points.
Vroom Fuel Price Compare
Availability and rating: iOS (4.4) and Android (4.0)
How it works: Vroom Fuel Price Compare is not a national app – its coverage is limited to fuel prices in Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland. However, unlike other apps that rely on crowd-sourced details, Vroom uses government data to provide up-to-date fuel pricing for petrol stations near your location, plus directions to your chosen servo.
State-based apps and sites
Other apps are coming onto the market, such as newcomer Pumped Fuel, which at present is only available for Android devices. However, there is also a variety of state-based fuel apps or web pages that motorists can check out to cut costs at the bowser.
Queensland: RACQ Fair Fuel Finder iOS (3.5) and Android (3.4)
New South Wales: NSW FuelCheck iOS (4.7) and Android (4.6)
Tasmania: FuelCheck Tas iOS (4.7) and Android (rating not available)
It can also help to time your trip to a service station in line with petrol price cycles. Consumer watchdog – the ACCC – displays historical fuel data helping motorists estimate the next possible low point in the fuel cycle when prices can be cheaper.
Extracted in full form: 8 Fuel Apps that can Help you Save Money | Canstar