Petrol Savings Guide
Beat the Petrol Price Cycle and find the cheapest fuel in your area with these handy tips for Australian motorists.
The easy way to always find the cheapest Petrol
The price of petrol can vary by as much as 20c a litre between petrol stations, and it’s often said that it “rises like a rocket and drops like a feather”.
So filling up at the right petrol station at the right time can save you big money over the course of a year.
How can you sniff out the cheapest petrol without driving long distances checking the signs? Thanks to technology, you can now use price comparison websites or apps to save time and money.
Here are the major ones so far (with new updates coming almost every month) and their Pros and Cons. (By the way, they’re all FREE.)
Best for: outside NSW & NT
Where to get it: App Store, Google Play.
PRO: The most comprehensive national app for petrol prices. Claims to report prices for around 4,500 Australian service stations each day
PRO: Covers both metro and regional areas
PRO: Shows graphs of the price cycle, suggesting the best days to fill up.
CON: You have to click on a station to see the price: doesn’t automatically display them.
CON: Mainly focuses on unleaded, diesel, e10 fuel
CON: Only updated twice daily outside NSW & NT
PRO: Offers the choice of 11 different fuel types across all brands, because the state/territory government makes all petrol stations contribute prices.
PRO: Provides up to the minute information and data as well as fuel price history.
PRO: Predicts price trends and suggests the best days to fill up.
CON: Only offered in NSW and NT at present.
PRO: Tells you whether you should fill up now, or wait for prices to drop.
CON: It’s a website so it’s not as simple as checking an app on your phone.
CON: Only updates 3 times a week – Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
CON: Does not cover regional areas. Capital cities only.
CON: Only shows one fuel type per city.
How to ride the petrol price cycle to your advantage
Petrol prices in Australia tend to follow an up-and-down pattern, so if you know a bit about this ‘cycle’, you can predict the cheapest time to fill up.
Petrol price cycles rise much quicker than they drop, which many motorists consider evidence of “price gouging”. But the upside of the price cycle is that the pattern gives savvy drivers some clue to when petrol will be cheapest.
Take a look at the below graph from the Motormouth petrol app of 60 days worth of average prices in Sydney, and you’ll see how there is a degree of predictability.
Fill up while the price is on the way down, but don’t leave it too long or it will spike back up again.
We’ve listed some of the apps and websites that track the cycle for you in our Guide on “The easy way to always find the cheapest petrol”
The duration of petrol price cycles across each state varies, and has increased in recent years. For instance, in 2017 alone, price cycle durations ranged from 11 days to 61 days.
Pump prices at your local servo are influenced by the Singapore wholesale price of petrol, plus taxes and importing costs, but the daily bowser numbers are also shaped by old-fashioned supply and demand in each region.
More competition in bigger cities usually means greater choice and lower prices for the consumer, however in small towns with fewer retailers rural motorists often pay more.
8 Ways to Save on Petrol
Average fuel prices have almost doubled since 2002 when they were around 87 cents per litre, according to the Australian Institute of Petroleum.
Meanwhile, the petrol price cycle has become less predictable and the old idea of ‘cheap Tuesdays’ has seemingly disappeared.
So car owners need to get smart if they want to minimise their petrol bill. We’ve pulled together 8 top tips to help you save at the bowser:
- Petrol price apps
These apps help you find the cheapest petrol prices near you. Many include a price map, a 7-day buying outlook and plenty of information to compare prices. They don’t cover all the petrol chains in all areas, but it’s a great headstart. See our guide on “The easy way to always find the cheapest petrol”
Discounted fuel is available via the 4c/L shopper docket discounts from Coles and Woolworths. These can sometimes be combined with in-store offers at petrol stations to make up a 8c/L or even a 14c/L discount. BP and 7 Eleven/Mobil also have loyalty card schemes that offer discounts. For full details, see our guide to “Cash in on the Shopper Docket Discount”
- Fill up when fuel is cheap
Don’t wait until your petrol tank is running on empty to fill up. Fill up when the price cycle is at its lowest. If you wait until the red light appears on your dashboard before you start searching for the nearest petrol station you could pay more than you have to. Read our guide on “How to ride the petrol price cycle to your advantage”.
- Cut back on driving time
It’s an obvious one, but fewer kilometres clocked up means more fuel in the tank. Also, a cold engine sucks up more fuel as it warms up. So combining all your daily errands and short driving trips into one long journey will improve fuel efficiency.
- Avoid Peak Hour
No one likes to be stuck in peak hour traffic at the best of times and constantly shifting between low gears eats up extra juice, as does repetitive braking and accelerating.
- Carpooling and car-sharing
Carpooling or ride-sharing is exactly that. So if you have a nice workmate or friendly neighbour, why not arrange to take turns driving and share the load – and the petrol bill?
Smaller cars have a smaller engine, which means they are cheaper to run. So if you don’t need that big gas-guzzling 4WD, you could consider downsizing.
- Lay off the Air Conditioner
AC in sweltering Aussie summers can be a godsend but it uses extra petrol so there’s no need to use it all year round.
Cash in on the Shopper Docket Discount
The shopper docket craze was sparked by supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths in 2003.
It has calmed down in recent times, with discount supermarkets such as Aldi providing stiff competition and petrol discounting now capped at a disappointing 4c/Litre (unless you combine offers, as is sometimes possible).
But there are still some savings to be had for motorists keen to save a few bucks.
For car owners who haven’t used the shopper docket discount before, here’s a little background:
How does it work?
Since 2003, Woolies have had a relationship with petrol giant Caltex whilst Coles joined forces with Shell. (Woolies have since sold their petrol stations to BP, but we’re yet to see what impact that will have…)
Customers who spend at least $30 at each supermarket earn a discount on fuel. Your supermarket receipts contain a fuel discount offer on the back that is redeemable at all Coles and Woolworths applicable service stations within Australia.
Just show the voucher to your service station attendant and receive a discount off the pump price of fuel, whether LPG, diesel or petrol.
Where can I redeem my discount?
There are currently 520+ Caltex Woolworths fuel outlets available for discount holders to pick from. What’s more, there are 100+ additional Caltex redemption sites.
Woolworths Supermarket Customers can redeem their 4c/L fuel discount at any of these locations, and combine it with another 4c/L offer for spending $5 in-store at the petrol station, making a 8c/L discount overall.
There are nearly 700 Coles Express stores around Australia. With Flybuys you can also earn points on fuel: 2,000 points for every $10 spent.
Meanwhile, if you spend $20 at any participating Coles Express store, you can save 10 c/L on fuel. Add that to your Coles Supermarket 4 cent fuel discount docket and you can save 14c/L on fuel.
BP gives BP Plus cardholders 6c off per Litre for the first 7 months, and has a partnership with Velocity Frequent Flyer that means you can get 2 Velocity Points per litre and 2 Velocity Points per $1 spent in-store.
7 Eleven/Mobil has a fuel app that allows you to lock in a cheap price for 7 days if you have one of their fuel cards and pre-load it.
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