Power to the people!

This catch phrase is normally associated with various political movements and agendas.

You would not often think that people power can help you get cheap petrol and ease the pain at the bowser. Would you?

After all, it’s not like we as individuals can make our own petrol at home, right? 😉

Petrol prices are often at the top of people’s minds and dominate many political agendas and election campaigns as, like electricity, petrol is a product each and every one of us must consume (directly if you own a car or indirectly if you take public transport).

Furthermore, it is a major ‘input cost’ of pretty much any other product or service we use which means that the cost of petrol impacts the price of pretty much anything we buy.

We’ve had a reprieve recently from high petrol prices due to the fall in oil prices on global commodity markets.

However, many economists and industry insiders predict that this reprieve was only temporary in nature and prices will creep up again.

While there is no doubt that petrol prices will enter their final ‘death spiral’ once demand starts falling off a cliff due to electric & other green vehicles becoming mainstream and affordable to the average consumer, Queensland University of Technology predicts that even in 2030, most of the cars on Australian roads will still be running on petrol.

As you’re probably aware, petrol prices go up and down according to price cycles and those vary slightly between major metropolitan areas around Australia. For people in regional Australia, those price cycles are almost irrelevant due to lower population and therefore less competition.

Dropping a big portion of your pay at the servo just so that you can fill up your car and move around obviously sucks but here at Spending Hacker we don’t believe in bitching and moaning or even waiting on the government to act.

Instead, we are all about people finding ways to help themselves tackle the rising cost of living and getting the best deal they can possibly get.

Therefore, in this post I will introduce an easy way for you to ease the pain on your hip pocket from filling up your car.

Best of all, in order to benefit from it, all you need is to reach out for your smartphone!

Before we get cracking though, I strongly recommend you watch this video from The Checkout crew which provides great context to what I am going to cover next.

I really love these people! They do such a great job. 🙂

If you’ve ever watched the show, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s not only very informative but also highly entertaining, even if you’re not a ‘consumer affairs nerd’ like myself. 😉

Alright, now that we have the ‘big picture’ sorted, let’s jump straight in.

These apps will help you find the cheapest petrol

The apps I mention below rely on both petrol price information services (like Informed Sources and also the government-run Fuelwatch program in Western Australia) as well as information entered by the general public.

Furthermore, in order for those apps to be effective in doing their job (i.e. pointing you to the absolute cheapest petrol available in your local area at any particular point in time), this input from the general public is absolutely crucial pretty much anywhere in Australia outside of WA and NSW which has also recently introduced mandatory reporting obligations for petrol prices.

Here’s why:

  1. As the video above pointed out, Informed Sources only covers about 50% of the market as it is not compulsory for petrol companies to give them access to their prices. It is, however, mandatory in WA & NSW where all servos must participate in the scheme by law and provide their prices for the next day in advance to the government (but as you heard in the video, it doesn’t really result in cheaper petrol).
  2. Unlike the FuelWatch scheme in WA and FuelCheck scheme in NSW, which are run by the government, Informed Sources is a commercial for-profit business and if the companies behind those apps want access to their data, they gotta cough up the dough for that and some of the apps can’t afford that due to their business model.

The apps I mention below are available to anyone in Australia but do not give much of a ‘value add’ to people in WA or NSW as all prices there are known to the local state governments at all times.

This means that:

‘Crowd sourcing’ of petrol prices is not needed in WA or NSW.

If you live in WA, check the FuelWatch website.

Unfortunately, there is no official mobile app provided by the WA government but they do make their data freely available to anyone who wants it so this information is available through various third party apps, like the ones featured here.

If you live in NSW, check the FuelCheck website on either desktop or mobile.

FuelCheck have also recently launched official mobile apps for both iPhones and Android devices.

Android app:

NSW FuelCheck
NSW FuelCheck
  • NSW FuelCheck Screenshot
  • NSW FuelCheck Screenshot
  • NSW FuelCheck Screenshot
  • NSW FuelCheck Screenshot
  • NSW FuelCheck Screenshot

iPhone app:

For the rest of us, here is what’s on offer:

MotorMouth

MotorMouth is a name that will probably ring a bell for most people in NSW, Victoria & Queensland (and to a lesser extent, people in South Australia as well).

The unique thing about them is their ‘forecasting’ feature which works kinda like the weather forecast.

Basically, they aim to predict what stage we’re currently at in the petrol price cycle and advise people whether or not it’s a good time to fill up for the next few days.

These forecasts are available on their website and are also accessible through their app.

Here’s how:

MotorMouth obtain prices from Informed Sources but this obviously doesn’t come free.

As a result, here is how the price reporting works in the app:

  • You get 50 ‘price reveals’ free of charge per month.
  • If you want more than that, you need to either buy more credits from MotorMouth or earn them by updating prices at petrol stations you come across.

Here’s how it works:

Get the app

For the Android app:

MotorMouth
MotorMouth
Price: To be announced
  • MotorMouth Screenshot
  • MotorMouth Screenshot
  • MotorMouth Screenshot

For the iPhone app:

MotorMouth
MotorMouth
Price: Free
  • MotorMouth Screenshot
  • MotorMouth Screenshot
  • MotorMouth Screenshot
  • MotorMouth Screenshot
  • MotorMouth Screenshot
  • MotorMouth Screenshot
  • MotorMouth Screenshot
  • MotorMouth Screenshot
  • MotorMouth Screenshot
  • MotorMouth Screenshot

GasBuddy

This is one of the biggest names in the world when it comes to reporting petrol prices and as you can imagine by their foreign sounding name, they come to us from “the land of the free and the home of the brave” (USA for those not familiar with the American anthem 😉 ) where they have been operating since the year 2000.

Since Informed Sources was forced by the ACCC to provide their data to anyone who is willing to pay for it (and not just the servo operators) as discussed in The Checkout’s video above, this mob decided it is time for them to open up shop in Australia and pretty much ‘rinse & repeat’ their business model from the US and a few other countries they operate in.

You can read more about the circumstances and reasons for GasBuddy’s arrival to our shores in these articles from News Limited & the Sydney Morning Herald.

You can also watch this report from channel 7 news.

Here is a quick promotional video from GasBuddy explaining how the service works.

In Australia, GasBuddy buys data from Informed Sources and also entice their users to report prices at servos by holding a daily draw where you can win a petrol (or is it ‘gas’? 😉 ) voucher.

Each entry to the draw ‘costs’ 1000 points and in order to get points you need to report and update prices at servos you come across.

In order to cover their costs of buying data from Informed Sources, cover other operating expenses and generate a profit (they are a massive money making machine in the US!), GasBuddy will show you ads in the app.

Pretty simple really:  It’s kinda like Facebook who let you use their service for free in return for submitting content (your photos, videos and other posts) and putting up with ads.

Given GasBuddy decided to stick to their existing name for their Australian launch, which sounds very unusual here as nobody uses the word “gas” for petrol here, they’ve launched a slick advertising campaign to coincide with their Australian launch explaining that, when it comes to saving money, there is no difference between Aussies & Yanks and therefore people shouldn’t be put off by their strange sounding name.

Here is one example for those ads:

Get the app

For the Android app:

GasBuddy - Find Free & Cheap Gas
GasBuddy - Find Free & Cheap Gas
  • GasBuddy - Find Free & Cheap Gas Screenshot
  • GasBuddy - Find Free & Cheap Gas Screenshot
  • GasBuddy - Find Free & Cheap Gas Screenshot

For the iPhone app:

GasBuddy
GasBuddy
Price: Free
  • GasBuddy Screenshot
  • GasBuddy Screenshot
  • GasBuddy Screenshot
  • GasBuddy Screenshot
  • GasBuddy Screenshot
  • GasBuddy Screenshot
  • GasBuddy Screenshot

Fuel Map

Unlike the previous two apps, this mob does not pay Informed Sources for its data feed.

However, it does get pricing information in WA from Fuelwatch as it’s a state government-run service and the data is provided free of charge.

In all other states, they rely exclusively (at least for now) on the app users to enter price data when they visit, drive by or walk past a service station.

You would think that as a result, they will be offering some kind of incentives for people to do that but surprisingly enough, they don’t!

As a result, the price data on this app for anywhere outside WA is often out of date and sometimes even by weeks.

They do, however, offer a nifty little feature to help you calculate the actual fuel economy of your vehicle and also to maintain a logbook which can be useful in some circumstances (such as tax time for example).

I’ll leave it to you to decide whether that is enough of an incentive for you to have this app on your phone.

Here is a 4 minute video overview of the app to help you make a decision

Get the app

For the Android app:

Fuel Map Australia
Fuel Map Australia
Developer: WikiCamps
Price: Free+
  • Fuel Map Australia Screenshot
  • Fuel Map Australia Screenshot
  • Fuel Map Australia Screenshot
  • Fuel Map Australia Screenshot
  • Fuel Map Australia Screenshot
  • Fuel Map Australia Screenshot
  • Fuel Map Australia Screenshot
  • Fuel Map Australia Screenshot
  • Fuel Map Australia Screenshot
  • Fuel Map Australia Screenshot

For the iPhone app:

Fuel Map Australia
Fuel Map Australia
Price: Free+
  • Fuel Map Australia Screenshot
  • Fuel Map Australia Screenshot
  • Fuel Map Australia Screenshot
  • Fuel Map Australia Screenshot
  • Fuel Map Australia Screenshot
  • Fuel Map Australia Screenshot
  • Fuel Map Australia Screenshot
  • Fuel Map Australia Screenshot
  • Fuel Map Australia Screenshot
  • Fuel Map Australia Screenshot

Petrol Spy

This app is pretty much identical to Fuel Map above in the way it sources its prices.

In WA, it gets data from FuelWatch whereas everywhere else, the pricing information is 100% ‘crowd-sourced’ (they don’t pay for the feed from Informed Sources).

Unlike Fuel Map, however, they do offer an incentive for users to update pricing data by holding a daily draw for a $25 petrol card between everyone who entered pricing data that day.

As a result, the pricing information you get through Petrol Spy is often more up-to-date than what you’ll get through Fuel Map.

One annoying thing about this app is the fact that you must enable the GPS on your phone if you want the app to automatically detect your location. If you don’t wanna do it (because you want to preserve your battery ‘juice’ or due to privacy concerns), you need to enter the suburb you’re in manually.

Get the app

For the Android app:

Petrol Spy Australia
Petrol Spy Australia
Price: Free
  • Petrol Spy Australia Screenshot
  • Petrol Spy Australia Screenshot
  • Petrol Spy Australia Screenshot
  • Petrol Spy Australia Screenshot
  • Petrol Spy Australia Screenshot
  • Petrol Spy Australia Screenshot
  • Petrol Spy Australia Screenshot

For the iPhone app:

Petrol Spy Australia
Petrol Spy Australia
Developer: Pinecone
Price: Free
  • Petrol Spy Australia Screenshot
  • Petrol Spy Australia Screenshot
  • Petrol Spy Australia Screenshot
  • Petrol Spy Australia Screenshot
  • Petrol Spy Australia Screenshot
  • Petrol Spy Australia Screenshot
  • Petrol Spy Australia Screenshot
  • Petrol Spy Australia Screenshot

Go2 Rewards

Like Fuel Map & Petrol Spy above, this mob doesn’t buy data from Informed Sources. They also don’t use the free data from WA’s FuelWatch scheme.

Instead, they’ve chosen to go down the path of incorporating a loyalty scheme.

Here is how it works:

  1. You download their app and become a member instantly. Membership is free.
  2. You either update prices of service stations in your local area or buy products and services from participating small businesses in your local community. Some of these merchants will even give you special offers and discounts available only to Go2 Rewards Members.
  3. Every time you update petrol prices or buy something from participating businesses, you obtain reward credit. This reward credit gives you discount on each litre of petrol you buy. The discount can be accumulated up to $1 a litre and the cool thing is that you are not locked into buying your petrol from any particular service station so you can still shop around and buy from the servo which offers the best price at the time.
  4. You buy petrol at your chosen servo as usual and if you have supermarket discount vouchers, you are free to use them as well.
  5. After you buy and pay for your petrol, you take a photo of your receipt through the Go2 Rewards App and nominate how much of your accumulated discount you want to use (up to $1 off per litre). Go2 Rewards will then refund your nominated discount by direct deposit into your bank account within 72 hours.

Sounds complicated? The video below will explain it perfectly in less than 60 seconds 🙂

Here are the additional T&Cs to be aware of with Go2 Rewards:

  • The discount is limited to 50 litres per purchase.
  • You need to have an iPhone or an Android smartphone.
  • You will only accumulate fuel discounts when shopping with businesses who participate in the scheme. The amount of merchants who take part may vary depending on where you live. As the scheme first started in and around the Gold Coast area in Queensland, most of the participating merchants are still located there.

If you are a small business owner and would like to take part in the scheme as a merchant, you can get in touch with them by filling out this form.

The video below explains what’s in it for you as a business owner.

Get the app

For the Android app:

Go2 Rewards
Go2 Rewards
Price: Free
  • Go2 Rewards Screenshot
  • Go2 Rewards Screenshot
  • Go2 Rewards Screenshot
  • Go2 Rewards Screenshot
  • Go2 Rewards Screenshot

For the iPhone app:

Go2 Rewards
Go2 Rewards
Price: Free
  • Go2 Rewards Screenshot
  • Go2 Rewards Screenshot
  • Go2 Rewards Screenshot
  • Go2 Rewards Screenshot
  • Go2 Rewards Screenshot

So which of these apps should you use?

Well, as you probably realise by now, the usefulness of any of these apps is entirely dependent on how up-to-date the petrol pricing information is.

Unless you’re in WA or NSW, this will depend on the following two factors:

  1. Do they buy pricing data from Informed Sources? and

  2. How many users the app has and how incentivised are they to report prices through the app?

As far as point #1, you already have your answers after reading this guide as you know which apps pay for Informed Sources and which apps don’t.

As far as point #2, your best bet is simply to test how up-to-date the prices in your local area are in each of the apps.

However, you’ll be safe to assume the following:

  • Apps who buy data from Informed Sources will always have up-to-date pricing information for at least some of your local servos; and
  • Those who have bigger marketing budgets to acquire users and also to properly incentivise them for reporting prices, will probably have more up-to-date information than those who don’t.

Based on the testing me and my small team conducted (which you should only use as a rough guide to the potential situation in your local area), it seems that the American giant GasBuddy wins on that front.

Given they are big player with quite deep pockets, and a proven business model which has been working well overseas for quite some time now, that should be hardly surprising.

Which of these apps is giving you the best results in your area? Let everyone know through the comment box below (and maybe also include your postcode or suburb to make it more useful).

Photo by the real yomcat 

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