The price of fuel is one of the main running costs of your car – and the one that you can rely on to be a regular charge on your weekly budget.
How much is too much to pay for fuel?
Australia has a lot of natural resources – but crude oil really isn’t one of them. That means that we have to import most of our refined fuel from South East Asia, Japan and India. This is charged at the Singapore Benchmark Price – the main refining and distribution centre for the Asia Pacific region.
When you see the oil price at the end of the news, that’s usually based on the West Texas price of crude oil – useful for investors, but with ultimately no bearing on what goes into your cars tank. If you search for ‘Terminal Gate Pricing’ – you can see the base price of getting the fuel off the ship before it’s put into the tankers to be delivered to individual stations (and after it’s been hit with the federal government’s fuel excise of 40c per litre and GST).
The weekly fuel price is dependent on where you live, closer to the city, you’ll receive the benefit of a price cycle that can change the cost of fuel over a week – with monthly prices hitting peaks and troughs, some netting a neat profit for the retailer, other times just more than the cost of getting the fuel into the pump. Regional petrol stations are less sensitive to price changes, but it doesn’t hurt to shop around, as there are always differences in retailers trying to get you to their pumps.
Sites like Motormouth and PetrolSpy help to aggregate fuel prices across the region, with the exception of a few retailers who don’t make their pricing data freely available. The RACQ also offers a Fair Fuel Price – based on the average in your region, even giving a recommendation on whether to wait to refuel.
It’s hard to remember a time before the 4 cent discount shop-a-docket – it’s certainly increased the rubbish in our cars with receipts jammed into the centre console. But, depending on where you fill up, you can increase your discount:
Some Shell stations are partnered with Coles, sometimes offering another 2 cents per litre on top of your docket if you buy something/spend over a certain amount in store at the station. Flybuys is also linked to Coles, so keep an eye out for any discounts offered through their program; plus, you can also grab $10 discount for every 2,000 Flybuys points by converting them online.
Some Caltex sites accept Woolworths vouchers (although there are negotiations to offload the business to BP - so this may change in the near future) and if you use a Woolworths Rewards card, the good thing is you don’t have to keep your receipt stubs – the discount is stored on your card for the next 28 days. And if you have it enabled, you get $10 off your purchase automatically for every 2,000 points you accumulate.
BP stations seem to be more expensive than other sites during the fuel cycle of a week – maybe because they’re not partnered with any supermarkets, so the 4-cent discount doesn’t apply. BP does use the Virgin Velocity Rewards program, though, which can earn you 2 points per $1 (up to 150 litres of fuel) – and you can claim from $10 (1667 points) to $60 (10,000 points) to spend on filling your tank.
7-Eleven lets you lock in a price through their app, by locking in an amount of fuel up to 150 litres. If you get to a 7-Eleven station that’s lower than your app, you can use that price – but it’s great for people who don’t like to drive out of their way to find cheap fuel.
Puma/United/Freedom Fuels etc
Smaller retailers are a bit hit and miss: sometimes they have the best prices for miles, other times they’re not worth driving to. Puma has partnered with RACQ & free2go to offer members 4c/litre discount when you show your membership card at the check out, while some independent stations do a "discount match" by accepting competitor fuel discount dockets from the supermarkets.
They are often better at being more transparent, so you can often compare them on apps/websites like Motormouth, PetrolSpy or GasBuddy. The Queensland Government just launched a website with a list of apps and websites where that have signed up to receive data under the fuel price reporting trial.
If you think you’re using more fuel than you should be, mention it to our friendly service advisors next time you’re dropping your car in and they can get our expert technicians to have a look.
All exchangeable point amounts/conversions correct as of December 2018.
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