Shop Online to Find the Best Deal
Volunteers and credit card swipes help sites spot bargains
Gasoline hasn't been expensive enough to make Americans drive less, but fast-changing pump prices have convinced many drivers they ought to shop more before filling up. Here's where consumers can search for the best prices without burning fuel:
GasBuddy(http://www.gasbuddy.com), the most popular site, has a community of 1.1 million gas-price spotters, who log prices for about 120,000 gas stations a day. Old data are expunged after 24 to 48 hours. A new map allows users to scan prices over a wide area before clicking for the station address.
GasPriceWatch(http://www.gaspricewatch.com) has about 380,000 volunteer spotters. Prices are color-coded for freshness, and users can filter out old entries. Prices now link to outside map sites, but there are plans for an integrated map at the site soon.
AAA(http://www.aaa.com) is one of three sites relying on the Oil Price Information Service. (Navigate to the Triptik travel planner.) Data come from 100,000 gas stations daily, culled from credit card purchases by drivers of fleet vehicles, like delivery services. Timeliness varies by station, with data sometimes four days old. OPIS aims for more real-time pricing and now receives instant feeds from half of its stations.
MSN(http://autos.msn.com) and Automotive.com(http://www.automotive.com/gas-prices) also use OPIS data. MSN actually was the first to provide a gas station map, but now its map technology looks dated, and Automotive.com has no mapping.
This story appears in the April 30, 2007 print edition of U.S. News & World Report.