The median household in Singapore spends about S$1,500 to S$2,000 per year on petrol, according to the expenditure survey conducted by the government in 2013. Given that half or less of the population actually owns cars in the country, this could mean that the actual spending of a car-owning family could be around S$3,000 to S$4,000, assuming one drives about 17,500-20,000 km per year. However, with the petrol price continuing to increase, those numbers could increase by another 10-15% by this summer. Luckily, there are ways to reduce offset this impact and even decrease your total expenditure on petrol without driving less.
Find a Petrol Credit Card That Fits Your Lifestyle
Most petrol companies operating in Singapore have tied up with banks to provide special discounts on petrol for credit card payments instead of paying with cash. These discounts generally range from 15% to 20%, and are coupled with upfront discount from the petrol company and from the card issuer. While there are some cards with especially high levels of petrol discounts of up to 24-25%, these special deals tend to be limited to one or two purchases; otherwise, most of these discounts are quite similar to one another.
Examples of Petrol Deals from Credit Card Companies (excluding 1-time benefits)
- Citi credit cards: around 14% discount at Esso & Shell, up to 20.88% for Citi Cash Back Card
- Standard Chartered credit cards: up to 19.7% discount at Caltex, 21.04% for Unlimited Cashback Card, up to 25.07% for Visa Infinite Card
- HSBC credit cards: up to 16% discount at Caltex and 14% discount at Shell, up to 21% for HSBC Visa Platinum Card
- DBS credit cards: up to 14% discount at Esso, up to 20.1% for Everyday Card
- Maybank credit cards: roughy 20-21% discount with Maybank World Mastercard and Maybank Family & Friends Card
Not only that, petrol prices also tend to be very similar among the petrol stations as well. Therefore, your best bet is to to find a petrol credit card that provides other benefits that cater to your lifestyle. For example, if you spend most of your money on food groceries and restaurant bills, then you should pick a card that provides a lot of rebate or miles on those expenses. Alternatively, if you tend to spend mostly on entertainment and online shopping, you should pick a different card that caters to those categories of spending. A card that you pick based on this criteria is likely to already provide a petrol discount at 1 or 2 petrol station chains.
Read the Fine Prints
To receive the full benefit of your petrol credit card, it is highly important to read the fine prints of your card's petrol deals. For example, Citi cards seem to require at least S$120 of nett spend and 3 transactions on petrol every month and to qualify for its petrol discounts. Not only that, Citi Cash Back Card's 20.88% discount has a maximum limit of S$25 per quarter, and is lowered to 14% once you reach that limit. Other limitations include a lower rate of discount for 92 or 95 octane petrol compared to 98 octane petrol, so it's highly important for you to understand exactly what you need to do with these cards to actually receive your full discount.
Increase Your Fuel Efficiency Without Driving Less
Lastly, you can actually increase the fuel efficiency of your car quite meaningfully to reduce your petrol cost without reducing your car usage. For example, keeping your car light is known to reduce your automobile's fuel consumption. For example, every 50kg on your car has been known to increase your petrol usage by roughly 2%. Therefore, you should always try to declutter your car and clear out various luggage (i.e. sports equipments like golf clubs or other personal belongings) when you don't need them. Another way to reduce your car's weight is to fuel your car as infrequently as possible to reduce the average weight of your car.
Secondly, changing your driving habit can also reduce your fuel consumption. For example, we found an example of a driver who simply began accelerating and breaking more gradually to reduce his fuel consumption by 20%. Other tricks include making sure your tire is well inflated and maintaining a constant speed as much as possible (instead of constantly stopping every few seconds). Even if all of these tricks help you save about 20% of your fuel use, it would mean saving you about S$600 per year on petrol. Combined with another S$500 to S$700 of savings from using petrol credit cards, that's more than a thousand dollars every year that you can use to do other things like going on a vacation.