iGasUp - Though the fluctuation in gas prices is a baffling part of economics as far as I'm concerned, it stands to reason that it could be beneficial to know the prices at the local pumps at all times. Seeing as how one corner station may be higher than the next, having an app like iGasUp on your iPhone can maybe help keep fill-ups in check.
Using some form of technology that I am apparently ignorant to, iGasUp by Oil Price Information Services (OPIS) collects price data from credit card transactions at thousands of stations across the US and gives time stamped price updates throughout the day.
When using iGasUp on iPhone, GPS location is used to determine your current location and provide the 10 closest stations, the 10 cheapest stations, and the approximate distance to each. You can choose your radius for distance depending on how far you normally travel or enter the zip code for where you'll be stopping at a later time. iGasUp can be used with iPod touch, but no data can be pulled without a wi-fi connection.
When I gave iGasUp a run through for the first time, I found that it loaded fairly quickly, but the prices seemed to be only moderately accurate, though clearly more accurate than sites that rely on user updates. The station nearest me had gas for $0.04 less than iGasUp listed, but the next nearest station had accurate pricing. I had originally set the distance to five square miles to begin with and gas prices fluctuated by about $.05 between stations. I then reset it and discovered that within 10 square miles there were stations that were as much as $0.15 cheaper than the closest one — if in fact the prices were accurate. That’s useful information, but you are relying on accuracy and your willingness to drive an extra 9.4 miles to save the difference.
A few times while using iGasUp out and about, it failed to find my current location. This wasn't a consistent issue, but a minimal annoyance. If this happens, you can always default to entering a ZIP code, but if you're traveling you might not know the ZIP you’re in.
Providing iGasUp can pick up your current location, you can search for stations nearby when your tank gets low. If the updated prices are accurate you could possibly save a few bucks by comparing prices before deciding to stop. From what I understand, iGasUp is a subscription based service, which you apparently get to keep for a year from the time you download it. I don’t know what happens after that time, but with summer travel in full swing, iGasUp appears to have the potential to give you more bang for your travel buck.