Outsmart your gas station
The right time to shop and how to make your purchase. Savings from those and other moves can add up.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- It's easy to feel out of control with gas prices hitting $3 nationwide - the second highest price per gallon ever recorded.
Today on Gerri's Top Tips we're going to help you outsmart your gas station and pay less at the pump.
1: Time your visits
You'll generally find the cheapest gas before noon. Gas retailers at large corporate stores sets their prices at about 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. when the first management shift begins, according to Brad Proctor, the founder of gaspricewatch.com.
According to Proctor, gas prices were raised before noon about 93% of the time. You have about an hour or two until all the smaller gas stations begin to follow suit and raise their prices.
You will also want to buy your gas when it's cooler outside because it will have more density. If you buy gas in the heat of the day, you could be losing as much as 1% of the gas you pump into your car.
2: Bring some green
We know how easy it is to pay with plastic. But here's a case where you may benefit from using cash.
Credit card transactions are painful to gas retailers and more and more stations are giving consumers discounts of up to $.04 cents if they pay in cash. Merchants like Visa and Mastercard generally charge retailers 2% on every dollar of gas that's charged. And with two-thirds of consumers using plastic to fill up, the numbers can add up. According to Proctor, the banking industry is getting about $60 million a day off of these transactions.
Jeff Lenard of the National Association of Convenience Stores says he expects more and more gas stations to offer these discounts to consumers.
3: Get the real numbers
We've already told you that the Environmental Protection Agency's Miles Per Gallon rating is outdated. But did you know that manufacturers test their own cars? And the cars that are tested are especially built to meet these ratings, according to Jonathan Linkov of Consumer Reports.
If you want to buy a gas-sipper, check out Consumer Reports at consumerreports.org. Cars are tested directly from the dealers and driven in real world conditions.
To get the lowdown about everything from fuel efficiency to whether hybrid cars are the way to go, check out Edmunds.com users' forum and find out what other folks have already discovered.