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As gas prices rise, Long Island drivers turn to gas apps to save money

Mobile apps such as GetUpside and GasBuddy's Pay with GasBuddy program are "essentially like an after-the-fact coupon for filling your tank," an expert says. 

Lacey Patnaude, of Babylon,  uses the app

Lacey Patnaude, of Babylon,  uses the app GetUpside at a BP gas station in West Babylon on Tuesday.

The more Lacey Patnaude works, the more it costs her.

Over the past several months, the Lyft and Uber driver saw her fuel costs hit new highs as gas prices rose to levels not seen in years.

“I probably spend about $150 to $200 a week [on gas] depending on how much I drive,” said Patnaude, 37, a Babylon resident.

She is now among the 350,000 consumers using GetUpside, a cash-back app for gasoline that recently became available on Long Island.

Every penny back helps, Patnaude said.

Consumers are turning to free apps, such as GetUpside, Gas Buddy and those offered by gas stations, including Shell and Cumberland Farms, that offer discounts or give cash back.

Though the price of regular gas on Long Island has fallen since hitting a 2018 peak on Memorial Day weekend, Tuesday’s average of $3.05 a gallon was the highest for a June 19 since 2014, said Denton Cinquegrana, chief oil analyst for the Gaithersburg, Maryland-based Oil Price Information Service.

‘Worthwhile’ tools

Gas apps are a worthwhile, money-saving tool, said Courtney Jespersen, a consumer savings expert at NerdWallet, a personal finance information company based in San Francisco.

“They’re essentially like an after-the-fact coupon for filling your tank,” she said.

Gas apps can add more time to a transaction, said Jespersen, whose suggestions for maximizing savings include checking the terms of the app deal, reading customer reviews online and not driving too far out of the way to save a few cents.

In September, GasBuddy, a Boston-based tech company that provides fuel price data, launched the Pay With GasBuddy program, which saves 5 cents on each gallon of gas at most gas stations. The program is used through GasBuddy’s app, and now has 300,000 users in all states.

Pay with GasBuddy users sign up to receive debit cards linked to the checking accounts that they use to buy gas.

“The month of March is when gas prices started to go up. We saw a 38 percent increase in enrollment in Pay With GasBuddy” from February to March, spokeswoman Allison Mac said. “And we kept that high rate of sign-up through April and May.”

In New York State, enrollment doubled from February to May, she said.

GetUpside, founded in Washington, D.C., in 2016 by two former Google engineers, partners with gas stations to offer discounts of up to 25 cents per gallon.

Rising gas prices have boosted consumer signups for the company, which has “a couple thousand” on Long Island, said Wayne Lin, GetUpside co-founder and chief operating officer.

“It’s definitely helpful, but it’s just become a more and more significant component of people’s household budgets,” he said.

Using GetUpside

After viewing GetUpside deals on their smartphones at participating gas stations, consumers drive to a station, pay for the gas with a debit or credit card, and then upload a photo of the receipt to a GetUpside account. They accumulate the savings, which vary by user and gas station, and cash out via a check or PayPal.

Average annual savings range from $80 to $100, Lin said.

On Long Island, 150 BP and Valero stations are participating, and more will be added, GetUpside said.

David Jaffe owns three BP stations — two in West Babylon and one in Hicksville — that are GetUpside participants.

“The thing that was appealing was it is designed to be a way to get customers who normally don’t come to our stations to visit them,” he said.

His stations are getting about six GetUpside customers a week, and most have been new customers, he said.

GetUpside receives a share of sales made with the app from the gas stations, Lin said.

GetUpside is also available in Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and the metro D.C. area.

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