Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Gas Station Statistics

Every time I refuel my car - a 2015 Subaru Forester that I've owned for just over two years now - I log it in a spreadsheet. The idea was mostly to track things like how much money I spend on gas, my Forester's MPG, that sort of thing. (By the way...$105 per month and 29.6 miles per gallon, so far.) But I've never really looked at the gas stations themselves. So, let's dive in and talk gas station statistics!

As of today, I have refueled the Forester 92 times in 2+ years. Here are the gas station brands I've refueled at the most:

Shell - 25
Mobil - 19
BP - 13
Kroger - 9
Exxon - 7
Sheetz - 4
Citgo - 3
Sunoco - 2
Circle K - 1
Flying J - 1
Pilot - 1
Gate - 1
Marathon - 1
Speedway - 1
Wawa - 1
other* - 3

(* - These are "Mom and Pop" gas stations that are unaffiliated with a major brand name.)

Lately, which type of gas station I go to has depended on, more than anything else, one thing:

Publix has a deal every two or three weeks (on average) where if you spend more than $50 on groceries, you can get $10 off a $50 gas card. It's a pretty sweet deal, way better than Kroger's fuel rewards program that only gives you roughly $1 back for every $100 you spend. I take advantage of this deal every chance I get, and that means I am normally awash in gas cards. (The most gas cards I've ever possessed at one time is six. Right now I have two, one of which is half used.)

So, anyway, Publix doesn't sell gas cards for every type of gas station, of course. Usually they have Shell, BP, and ExxonMobil (good at either Exxon or Mobil, of course). They also have a couple other brands like Marathon and RaceTrac that don't have enough stations around here to make it worth getting one of their cards. (Unless I'm making a trip to Ohio soon, perhaps. LOTS of Marathons up there. There are even more Speedways in Ohio, but Publix doesn't sell Speedway cards.) So, I always stick with Shell, BP, and ExxonMobil. This is why Shell, Mobil, BP, and Exxon are ranked #1, #2, #3, and #5, respectively. And, 34 of my last 36 fillups have been at one of those types of stations.

Between Shell, BP, and Exxon/Mobil, Exxon/Mobil is the most convenient when at home, because I pass by one every day. (17 of the 19 Mobil fillups were at the same gas station, the Mobil closest to home.) Shell is most convenient when traveling, because Shells are usually easier to find on the road than BPs, Exxons, or Mobils. BP kind of gets the best of both worlds, except it's not as close to home as the Mobil down the street, and there aren't quite as many BPs out there as there are Shells.

With gas prices as low as they've been - even though prices have been going up some lately - I almost can't use the gas cards fast enough! And, it is kind of a pain to feel like I have to fill up at one of those types of stations, as opposed to more awesome gas stations like Sheetz. If only Publix sold Sheetz gas cards! But, I still say it's worth it: so far, I've saved over $250 by way of the Publix gas card discounts.* And that's just for my car; we've saved even more than that using these gas cards to also refuel Amber's car.

(* - Generally speaking, shopping at Publix is more expensive than shopping at Kroger, so exactly how much money I've actually "saved" here is debatable. Also, sometimes gas at Shell/BP/Exxon/Mobil is more expensive than at other stations...but, saving $10 out of $50 is better than saving 10 cents per gallon, or even 20 cents per gallon, by going to a different station.)

Speaking of the price of gas: I also kept a gas log with my previous car, although not for the entire life of that car - basically, from 2008 to 2014. During that time, the average price I paid for gas was $3.17 per gallon. Now, that includes some fillups in Canada, where gas is more expensive...but still, there's no debating gas has been cheaper of the last two years. Since I bought the Forester, the average price of gas has been $2.33 per gallon. So even though the Forester doesn't get the MPG that my old Honda Civic did, I am actually spending less on gas on a per mile basis with the Forester due to cheaper gas - so far. (And also a per month basis, but that's more from taking fewer long road trips. We aren't planning to drive the kids to Alaska any time soon.)

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