Do you ever flinch when you see the price of petrol? You’re not alone, but you can save yourself money by checking the price boards outside petrol stations for the cheapest fuel prices and talking to others about where the best prices are on the day. Discounts can save you money on petrol or diesel, typically 6 to 7 cents per litre off the price you pay for your petrol. But beware, as even with a discount you may be paying more for your petrol than if you had shopped at a competitor site down the road. It pays to shop around for the best price.
The Commerce Commission has responsibilities for monitoring and regulating the fuel markets to promote competition for the long-term benefit of consumers. This regime was set up by the Government in 2020 in response to the cost-of-living crisis and the relatively high price of fuel.
As part of our work at the Commission, we have asked companies to explain why there are large price variations across the country and within cities, as we cannot explain these differences by looking at costs. Our most recent monitoring report has case studies that shine a light on different types of discounts and which ones offer the best value for consumers. This work tells us that shopping around for the cheapest price is key. Here are some things you can do:
- Are you using the correct type of fuel for your car? Regular 91 is generally cheaper than Premium fuel, so if your car can run on Regular 91 using that fuel will save you money at the pump.
- You are often best off simply choosing the petrol station with the lowest board price or the site with a one-off ‘discount day’.
- Consider changing your shopping habits. If a competitor site down the road has cheaper prices why not support them and save yourself money.
- Consider buying petrol on a day when discounts are larger.
- Loyalty programme benefits can be complicated, with minimum and maximum purchases required, and rules around accumulating discounts. Most consumers are unlikely to get the most benefit from these programmes.
- There is a really useful smartphone application called Gaspy which helps you find the cheapest prices in your area that day. If you are not comfortable using a phone app perhaps you have a friend, neighbour or family member who can look up the prices. This is something that you could do as a community, spreading the word on which petrol station has the cheapest prices. You can also add information to Gaspy on the prices you see to help others.