Cut down on car and travel costs

Money Advice Service

Travel isn’t something you can avoid and buy later when you’ve saved up – we all need to get around. But if you’re clever about it, there are a lot of things you can do to save money.

Cut the cost of driving

You can save money on almost every aspect of using a car – from insurance to the way you drive.

Shop around for cheaper car insurance

Use price comparison sites when buying car insurance.

This will help you to get the best deal possible – while still getting the level of insurance cover that you need.

Bear in mind that a few insurers don’t let their products appear on comparison sites, so check their prices separately.

For more information, read our guide: Car insurance – how to get the best deal.

Cut the cost of fuel

Saving just 5p a litre on the price of petrol or diesel could save £100 a year for the average driver.

Supermarkets will often give you a discount at their petrol pumps when you spend a minimum amount in store.

Prices have varied by as much as 42p a litre for petrol across the UK.

Fuel economy

The average household has a weekly income of £572.60 – and spends nearly £80.80 of that on transport.

Source: Office for National Statistics, 2019

You can save a surprising amount of money by changing the way you drive.

An AA test found that the average driver could go 10% further on a tank of fuel by changing a few habits, and the best drivers could go 33% (one third) further.

That means that, if you usually get 600 miles on a tank of fuel, you could get 200 miles further before needing to fill up again!

Driving to save fuel:

  • Don’t drive too fast.
  • Drive in the right gear.
  • Take the roof rack off.
  • Don’t over-rev the engine.
  • Don’t use air conditioning.
  • Get the car serviced when it’s due.
  • Keep your tyres at the right pressure.
  • Don’t drive around with heavy things in the boot.
  • Block shift gears to brake – don’t go to each gear individually.
  • Don’t stop and start aggressively – try to smooth out your acceleration and braking.

Car sharing

If you commute by car, consider sharing your journey and the cost with others on the same route.

It’s simple if you can find workmates who live close to you – or if you share the school run with other parents nearby.

There are online services that will help match your journey with others.

Car clubs

If you drive less than 6,000 miles a year, joining a car club could save you over £3,000 compared to running your own car.

Source: Car plus, Zipcar and City Car Club

Car clubs let you hire a car by the hour or by the day.

They have cars in special parking spaces around cities so there’s likely to be one near you.

You open the car with a special membership card, so it’s much more flexible than having to visit a rental office during working hours.

You pay a joining fee and then pay for usage and fuel, so if you only want a car occasionally it can be a cheap alternative to owning your own car.

You can save money on:

  • repairs
  • insurance
  • parking costs
  • breakdown cover
  • regular servicing
  • vehicle excise duty (commonly known as car tax or road tax)

Public transport

Public transport is cheaper than driving, but even so, there are ways to save significant amounts of money – mainly by planning ahead.

Saving on train tickets

  • Get a season ticket if you travel regularly.
  • Always check for advance tickets. Some cheap advance tickets might still be available the day before you travel.
  • Buy advance tickets. You can usually buy a ticket up to three months before you need to travel, and it’s often cheaper.
  • Look out for special offers, discounts and deals. Look for cheap travel deals on Money Saving Expert.
  • Get a Railcard. You get a third off on many routes, so you might save £20 on a ticket that would have cost £60. You’ll often find that the cost of a Railcard pays for itself over one or two long trips. Get a Railcard now.
  • Split your ticket. For longer journeys, it’s sometimes cheaper to buy several tickets for different segments of the journey. But remember, you must stop at each of the stations on your tickets.
  • Use contactless to pay as you go or get an Oyster Card if you travel in London. You can use both on the Tube, on buses and on most local overground trains, and it’s cheaper than buying paper tickets. For example, a short Tube journey in Central London will cost you £4.90 in cash but just £2.40 on an Oyster Card or using contactless payments. Find out about Oyster Cards on the Transport for London website.:target=’_blank’}.
  • Think about going by coach instead. It usually takes longer, but if you have time then going by coach is often cheaper than making the same journey by train.

Go by bike

Travelling by bike is almost free – plus, it keeps you fit!

If you don’t have a bike and are thinking about getting one to commute with, then you might be able to benefit from a tax-free bike through the Cycle to Work scheme.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.

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