With gas prices rising all over the country, the GasBuddy app has exploded in popularity as a way to find lower prices. But is it actually worth using? It’s safe to say that there’s a smartphone app for just about anything. Want to turn yourself into a cartoon drawing? The Prequel app lets you do that. Trying to watch live sports while on the train? You’ve got the ESPN app. There’s even an app that turns your iPhone into a virtual can of beer. And that’s just scratching the surface.

Among those examples, there’s also a niche of applications dedicated to helping you save money. Rakuten is one of the most popular — allowing users to shop at major stores and get cash back on their purchases. The RetailMeNot app is a great place to find coupons and promo codes, Receipt Hog scans your shopping receipts to turn them into cash, and you can earn a little side money by sharing data and taking surveys with the Pogo app.

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As of 2022, one of the most popular apps in this field is GasBuddy. Since it launched in 2000, the GasBuddy app/website has been helping users find cheap gas prices in their area. While it’s nothing new these days, the recent rise in gas prices has made GasBuddy one of the most popular apps on the App Store. If you’re new to GasBuddy or haven’t used it in a while, navigating the app is pretty simple. After downloading it on your iPhone or Android device, log in to the app or create an account. Once you’re on the home page, tap the big ‘Find Gas’ button at the top of the screen to see gas prices in your area. Users can see a list of gas prices at nearby stations, look at a map view of those stations, and narrow their search with filters for price, distance, fuel type, and payment options at the gas stations.

Why You Should (And Shouldn’t) Use GasBuddy

That’s GasBuddy in a nutshell. Download the app, tap the ‘Find Gas’ button, and you’re off to the races. But just because GasBuddy is the most popular way to find cheap gas, does that mean it’s the app you should use? There are a few things to consider here. For one thing, GasBuddy really pushes its users to sign up for its Pay with GasBuddy service. This is essentially a free debit card that links to your checking account and only works at gas stations. If you have the Pay with GasBuddy card, you can activate in-app deals and save up to 25 cents per gallon on each fillup. It’s a good value if you’re OK giving GasBuddy your bank information, but if you aren’t, being pestered to sign up for it can get annoying.

There’s also concern around how much personal information GasBuddy collects from its users. According to a lawsuit from 2017, GasBuddy was selling user data to marketing company Reveal Mobile. This included people’s IP addresses, latitude and longitude, and more. GasBuddy’s privacy policy confirms that it also collects things like your phone’s device ID, how you use the app, your notifications, and other ‘technical data.’ The kicker? GasBuddy says it collects this information “even if you are not logged in” to the app. Users can make the app more secure by revoking certain permissions (and blocking cross-app tracking on iOS), but using GasBuddy means needing to hand over vast amounts of your data.

Some people might be OK with that, and for them, GasBuddy works well. It shows gas prices clearly, has powerful search tools, and lets you get gas even cheaper if you’re comfortable using the Pay With GasBuddy service. But if all of that sounds too invasive, there are alternatives to GasBuddy. If you have Google Maps on your phone, searching for a gas station there shows that station’s current prices. You can also find gas prices with nothing more than Google Search. Search for a nearby gas station, select the one you want, and you can see its prices. If you’d rather not rely on Google for something else in your life, the Waze app has gas prices, too. GasBuddy works well enough for what it is, but if you value digital security, it’s not a bad idea to look elsewhere.