Five best apps to track cheap petrol
Sometimes it feels as though you need a PhD in geopolitical science to understand how the price of fuel fluctuates.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission chairman Rod Sims said last year the main effect on the price of fuel was the overseas cost of crude oil and getting it here.
"Unfortunately, we've got an overseas cartel from the oil producing nations. You know, the Middle East, Russia, countries in Africa," he said.
"And they get together and control how much fuel gets sold on the world stage, and that pushes the price up enormously."
Mr Sims said that reason alone accounted for an "easy 10 to 20 cents per litre", though it was hard to calculate an exact figure.
These fluctuations mean the watchful and savvy among us can enjoy significant savings if we know when and where to fill up our hungry beasts.
A number of apps are available for free to help you navigate this. Here are my top five:
MotorMouth claims to be the "original and the best", with the app including more features than most but is still easy to use.
It has tabs to track market trends and forecasts as well as allowing the user to collect prizes and rewards.
"The introduction of the dot-e-maps interface makes it easy to compare the price of fuel at one servo with the others, highlighting the cheaper and more expensive service stations right across the region," the MotorMouth site says.
"Tapping on any coloured dot will now open the site details and reveal the price. This feature along with Dashboards for your current and favourite locations ensure the prices you really want to know are only a tap or two away."
As with most, the Fuel View app uses your GPS to locate cheap petrol being sold nearby.
What's handy about this app is it has a button on the main interface that says "take me to best station", which directs you quickly to the closest and best price.
From there you can be directed straight to your map application and guided to the station.
This handy little app claims to have helped drivers save $1.5 billion on fuel last year. I have no idea how they could work that out but if they say it, it must be worth a try. Right?
"Never overpay again," the app promises.
This app is slightly different to the others because it doesn't allow you to access it without starting an account. Soz buddy, Mark Zuckerberg already stole all my data.
It is, however, one of the more ubiquitous apps on the market and the signing in feature does allow its users to collect points and save on petrol.
FuelMapAustralia is another quick and easy to use app. It looks just like the regular map application and it's probably the clearest and easiest to use.
The icons clearly show what the petrol station is nearby and what the price of fuel is there, which is handy if you have points or a fuel card.
It even comes with a handy little YouTube video. Enjoy!
COMPARE THE MARKET
We all know those annoying ads with the cute little meerkat, but the comparison site Compare the Market also has its very own app for tracking down the cheapest fuel.
The main interface locates the closest fuel stations nearby and can be adjusted to quickly flash what the price is at each.
"In order to help you find the best prices nearest you, comparethemarket.com.au has provided an easy-to-use tool that lets you enter your postcode and type of fuel you use, returning information on some of the cheapest fuel close to you," the site says.
"It takes only seconds, and by checking in and using this often you could really start to save on your fuel bill over time."
The prices are updated three times a day and is available in all capital cities as well as the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast.
There are also a number of apps linked to fuel providers including Caltex, BP, Woolworths Fuel, and 7-Eleven.
These allow the user to track when fuel will be cheapest at the associated stations, while some give the consumer the chance to pay directly from the app when refuelling.
There are also government or insurance company run apps, such as NRMA and the NSW Government's FuelCheck.