As every new car owner soon learns, the purchase price is only part of the cost of vehicle ownership. It doesn’t take long for the costs of driving and maintaining a vehicle to run into thousands of dollars. However, managing car expenses over time can keep those expenses to a minimum. Simple steps like using rewards credit cards, shopping around for insurance, and changing driving habits have a dramatic impact on auto costs.
Buy Car Insurance the Smart Way
Despite the fact that auto insurance costs can vary widely from company to company, studies show that a mere 39% of Americans comparison shop. Experts suggest getting at least four quotes before choosing from a list of insurers that have the lowest number of complaints. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners will provide names of insurers and statistics about them. Owners can also save by lowering insurance coverage on older vehicles and bundling auto policies with other insurance.
Use Cash Back Credit Cards
Credit cards that are used wisely can help owners control auto expenses. For instance, rewards cards issued by companies like American Express offer as much as 3% cash back on gas purchases. The highest paying cards often include annual fees but most also offer new user bonuses that more than offset the fee for the first year. As a bonus, the cards also offer hefty cash-back rewards on other purchases, like groceries. If credit cards offer discounts for general purchases, customers may also earn rewards when paying for auto repairs or maintenance.
Learn to Drive Sensibly
Over time driving habits can also affect the cost of auto ownership. Rapid acceleration, hard braking, and speeding all waste incredible amounts of gas. They will reduce gas mileage by as much as 33% during highway driving and 5% in town. Research shows that simply eliminating these bad habits can result in savings of about $477 annually. It is also a good idea for drivers to avoid idling, which takes far more gas than restarting. In fact, just breaking that one habit can save an average driver $140 a year.
It can be expensive to own and drive a car, but there are steps that will lower costs. Owners can buy insurance strategically to get the best deals. They can also save by using rewards credit cards for car expenses and eliminating bad driving habits that decrease gas mileage.