With the price of oil skyrocketing to their highest level since 2008, drivers around the country are looking for any and all ways to find the cheapest possible gas.
Historically, gas prices this high precede a recession, and while oil settled higher on Friday, it capped a week of whipsawing sticker shock — which translated to some parts of America paying up to $7 per gallon just to fill up.
So how do you find the lowest possible price near you? While some of it may depend on where you live — different states have different taxes on fuel — some of that “pump pain” can be alleviated by familiarizing yourself with the best apps for finding cheap gas.
We tested almost a dozen apps this week and found that five of them stood out head and shoulders above the rest.
GasBuddy Didn’t Make the Cut For Best Gas Price Apps
The biggest shocker? One of the most popular gas pricing apps, GasBuddy, was our least favorite, primarily because its app (not its browser version) was siphoning our personal data like no tomorrow.
You can read more about exactly how much the company was draining out per person in a deep dive the New York Times wrote, but because of this unsavory practice, we didn’t rank it in our top five.
What to Look For in a Gas-Money Saving App
Almost all gas pricing apps operate in similar ways, primarily by pinpointing your locations and then doing a quick search of local stations and ranking them by what’s cheapest and closest to you.
Once you know that’s how they work, picking the ones that work for you will basically depend on what you like about their features, points programs, range and dependability.
Here Are Our Favorite Gas Pricing Apps
A cliche as old as the internet is that if something is worth doing digitally, Google (GOOGL) – Get Alphabet Inc. Class A Report has already done it. That certainly was the case for us in testing two apps: Google Maps and Waze.
If you have an Android phone, you likely already have both of these installed — but if not, they are easy enough to find and download.
What Did We Love?
Our tester particularly liked that both of these apps are already on the phone, so you don’t have to download a whole new app and its memory-sucking functions — or expose yourself to more data loss of malware right as Russia’s cyber war starts ramping up.
That being said, the way the two work is almost identical, likely because Google owns Waze, though for a variety of legal reasons (mostly the popular “cop watch” feature on Waze), they remain largely siloed.
Each time we tested them, and from different zip codes, they managed to find both the closest gas stations and the cheapest gas stations quickly and easily.
The only real drawback was that with Google Maps you had to pull the screen out a bit far to see all the options, a clunky thing to attempt while driving.
There Were Some Surprises
The biggest surprise for our testers was Geico’s Gas Search. Despite having Geico (BRK.A) – Get Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Class A Report as auto insurance in some cases, the existence of the app was news to us until we read rapturous reviews about it and gave it a try.
It did a wonderful job of immediately finding the cheapest gas locally, but there was a catch — right now we could only find and use the browser-based version of it.
That might make it the best choice for someone getting ready to leave the office and grab gas on the way home, but it could be a little tricky if you’re using your phone’s browser options in the car.
Longtime Favorites Made the List
It is beloved for a simple interface and a color-coded system of red, yellow or green for ranking the best choices for gas locally.
Each station has its corporate affiliation listed in case you are a member at that particular grocery store or convenience chain.
Even more appealingly for the luxury car drivers, it also has a filter for the type of gasoline on offer, including everything from regular up to diesel.
Another blast from past that is still holding strong? Gas Prices by MapQuest (SST) , which has been a stalwart for drivers since at least 2007, when one of our testers used it to drive cross-country.
It works best for trip planning, because it allows users to put in multiple destinations and chart out the cheapest possible gas throughout the voyage.