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A record 43.2 million people are expected to travel by car during the July 4 holiday, according to AAAthe Automotive and Leisure Travel Members Association.
The good news for these drivers is that gas prices across the country are lower than they were last year.
THE national average for a gallon of gasoline is $3.54 as of July 3, down from $4.81 a year ago, according to AAA.
Last year’s high prices prompted politicians at the state and federal levels to call for gasoline tax exemptions.
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Although gasoline prices are currently still high relative to historical averages, drivers have no plans to reduce their road trips, according to AAA.
This summer is proving to be a particularly popular travel period. The busiest season has not been without its complications, including massive flight disruptions leading up to the July 4 holiday.
A recent Bankrate survey revealed 63% of adults plan to take a summer vacation this year, compared to 61% last year.
“People want to go somewhere, they want to do something,” said Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at Bankrate and CreditCards.com. “There is still a lot of pent-up demand that has held up during the pandemic.”
That demand has helped push up categories such as airfares and hotels this year, Rossman noted.
Bankrate’s investigation found 80% of travelers plan to adjust their plans due to higher prices.
Choosing to drive instead of fly was one of the most common changes, according to Rossman, along with choosing cheaper accommodations or destinations and traveling for fewer days.
Travelers hitting the road by car or other vehicle may also be looking for ways to reduce gas costs.
Those hitting the road this weekend may want to stock up if they pass through the cheapest markets, according to the recent AAA rating of Top 10 cheapest markets.
This includes Mississippi, with prices around $2.97 per gallon; Louisiana, $3.08; Alabama, $3.10; Tennessee, $3.10; Arkansas, $3.11; South Carolina, $3.17; Texas, $3.18; Oklahoma, $3.22; Georgia, $3.23; and North Carolina, $3.25.
Drivers around the world can save by using apps to help them find better gas prices, like Upside or GasBuddy, according to Rossman.
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Some credit cards can give you up to 5% cash back on gas, according to Rossman. That includes brands such as Chase Freedom Flex and Discover it Cash Back, he said, which offer that rate between July and September.
Sam’s Club also offers some cards that will allow consumers to earn money on gas.
It’s also worth checking out what benefits your existing credit cards may offer, Rossman said.
“You can have a good gas rewards credit card and not even realize it,” Rossman said.
It’s worth noting that it’s generally best to avoid gas cards, which can come with high annual interest rates of 30% and limited discounts on gas purchases, he said. .
Drivers should also look to stack offers where they can. For example, a credit card might offer 5% cash back on gas, and a gas station app might offer a 10% per gallon offer, Rossman said.
“It’s two ways to save instead of one,” he said.
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Rental cars are also relatively cheaper this year, Rossman said.
If you’re considering renting a car, be sure to check if your credit card already offers insurance coverage.
“A lot of times, credit cards have various built-in travel benefits that people might not even realize,” Rossman said, which can also include provisions for trip delays or cancellations as well as baggage. lost or delayed.