While the price of gas has been dropping from $4.00 down towards $3.00 in recent weeks, I still pay attention to which stations offer lower prices when I go to fillup. I’ve found differences of up to 20 cents per gallon between stations that are just within a mile or two of my home in Colorado. That savings can add up quickly if you’re careful about where you buy gas.
There are a couple of iPhone apps that attempt to help you find the cheapest gas, wherever you happen to be, by combining pricing information from the internet with the location services of the iPhone. I looked at GasBag, iGasUp, and Where to see which one would help me find cheap gas, particularly when I was in an unfamiliar part of town. In my usage for a week, I found iGasUp to have the most complete and the most current pricing info, even if it was a little glitchy in map mode. It had more stations in my area (Denver, CO) and the pricing was consistently more accurate than the other apps.
The difference is found in the source of the pricing data. iGasUp uses OPIS data, which is compiled automatically from actual credit card transactions. GasBag and Where both rely on user submissions to their web sites (Where uses the data from gasbuddy.com). The data in these two apps was inconsistent and sometimes out-of-date, as you might expect when you are relying on volunteers to take the time to record what they paid. Both apps were also missing a fair number of stations in my part of town, which was frustrating at times.
iGasUp did show some glitches with occassional bad data, which would show up as a outlier in the data with a price drastically below the next lowest station. Usually this was limited to one bad entry and it was fairly obvious that there wasn’t really a station offering gas a full 20 or 30 cents under the lowest price to be found elsewhere. iGasUp was also buggy in map view (the default view is a list of stations sorted by lowest price). I couldn’t get the map to stay at a certain zoom level. I just stayed in the list view to avoid this situation. You can still click on the address of a particular station in list view to get to a map with directions to that location.
iGasUp is available in the iTunes App Store for $2.99. Because the underlying data is not free, iGasUp includes price updates for one year. You’ll have to rebuy sometime next year. Still, you’ll save the $3 pretty quickly if you take the time to check prices when you need to fill up.