Where you should be buying fuel

The cost of fuel inflicted the most pain on retirees in the September quarter, according to the YourLifeChoices Retirement Affordability Index™, but there’s a way to minimise the pain, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says.

An ACCC report analysed average retail petrol prices in 2018, and compared the prices between high- and low-priced major petrol retailers in the eight Australian capital cities. It then revealed where you should be filling up.

The report found that motorists could save hundreds of dollars a year, simply by heading to low-priced retailers.

“The data reveals that independent chains were the lowest-priced retailers in all eight cities, while Coles Express was the highest-priced retailer in almost all cities,” said ACCC chair Rod Sims.

The independent chains with the lowest average prices in 2018 were United in Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Hobart; Speedway in Sydney; Liberty in Adelaide; Vibe in Perth, and FuelXpress in Darwin.

In 2018, a motorist in Sydney could have saved around $343 for the year by filling up at the listed independent retailers rather than the highest-priced player. Similar savings would have been about $148 in Melbourne, $229 in Brisbane, $211 in Perth and $159 in Adelaide.

Collectively, the ACCC estimated that savings to motorists from switching from a range of high to low-priced petrol retailers in the five largest cities (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth) could have totalled around $275 million in 2018.

“Motorists who want to save money on petrol should use fuel price apps and websites,” Mr Sims said.

“Consumers do not only benefit from the lower prices they find using these apps, but they also help reward retailers who actively compete on price.”

Fuel price websites and apps that provide information to drivers about petrol prices, include the NSW FuelCheck website and app, the Northern Territory MyFuel NT website and app, the WA FuelWatch website, the MotorMouth website and app, and apps operated by GasBuddy, the NRMA and RACQ, 7-Eleven and Woolworths.

The ACCC said consumers should remember that there are minimum standards for regular unleaded petrol (RULP) and that RULP sold by high and low-priced stations often came from the same sources.

In the five largest cities, the range between the highest and lowest-priced major retailer varied from 13.2 cents per litre in Sydney to 5.7 cents per litre in Melbourne. In the three smaller capitals (Canberra, Hobart and Darwin) the range varied from 10.4 cents per litre in Darwin to 2.6 cents per litre in Hobart.

The report also found that the range between the highest and lowest-priced retailers increased from 2017 to 2018 in the five largest cities. It attributed this to bigger movements in the international price of refined petrol in 2018.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg directed the ACCC to monitor the petrol prices, costs and profits in December 2017. It now produces quarterly reports.

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Written by Janelle Ward

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