Most drivers are familiar with the never-ending dance that goes on at the gasoline pump, where fuel can fluctuate in price multiple times a day. But despite our constant grumbling, unless two stations are side-by-side, few of us go to the effort to actually find the cheapest gas around.
Now BillShrink, a startup that offers a variety of comparison engines designed to help users save as much money as possible, is looking to help you find the cheapest gas in your area, without forcing you to drive miles out of your way.
To get started, BillShrink initially asks for your home address and your most-visited destination, the make of your car, and how much gas you typically fill up when you visit a station. It plots your most commonly driven route on a map, locating nearby gas stations along the route and pulling data from partner services to get the latest gas prices from each station. It then looks at how far out of the way each station is, analyzing how much gasoline would be used in order to drive to a cheaper station and determining if the cost savings would be worth the trouble. You can also filter gas stations by the amenities offered (for example, if you wanted to make sure that the location you were visiting accepted credit cards or had a convenience store). After the initial setup, the service will monitor price fluctations on a daily basis, and you can elect to receive regular updates notifying when your ideal gas station switches.
It’s a neat idea, and BillShrink’s interface is very slick. I was initially skeptical about how much people would actually save, but BillShrink estimates that commuters could save as much as $200-$300 a year simply by regularly monitoring their ideal gas station, assuming they fill up on a weekly basis. This may be easier said than done (I suspect many people would rather pay an extra dollar or two if it saved them a ten minute drive), but I also know quite a few people who would walk half a mile to their bank branch to avoid an ATM fee, and this service would be right up their alley.
In any case, BillShrink isn’t planning to use the service to directly generate revenue, but instead sees it as a good way to drive traffic to its site. Unlike BillShrink’s other cost-saving services, which cover credit cards and mobile phones, gas is something people worry about on a day-to-day basis. BillShrink is hoping that this will lead them to come to the site more often, and hopefully stumble across its other (revenue-producing) services.