Save money on car and travel costs

Travel isn't something you can avoid and buy later when you've saved up – we all need to get around. But if you're clever about it, there are a lot of things you can do to save money.

So stay MoneyFit, whether you’re driving or using public transport. Read on to find out how you can make your money go further.

Cut the cost of driving

You can save money on almost every aspect of using a car – from insurance to the way you drive.

Shop around for cheaper car insurance

Use price comparison sites when buying car insurance. This will help you to get the best deal possible – while still getting the level of insurance cover that you need - see What to look for

Bear in mind that a few insurers don't let their products appear on comparison sites, so check their prices separately. See Choose the right cover for tips on buying insurance. Some insurers offer insurance for Service personnel while others offer special discounts to the Armed Forces, so don't forget to ask.

Cut the cost of fuel

Saving just 5p a litre on the price of petrol or diesel could save £100 a year for the average driver.

Supermarkets will often give you a discount at their petrol pumps when you spend a minimum amount in store. These discounts can be as much as 5p to 10p a litre.

Fuel economy 

You can save a surprising amount of money by changing the way you drive. An AA test found that the average driver could go 10% further on a tank of fuel by changing a few habits, and the best drivers could go 33% (one third) further.

That means that, if you usually get 600 miles on a tank of fuel, you could get 200 miles further before needing to fill up again!

Source: Telegraph

The average household spends nearly £65 of its weekly income of £473 on transport.

Driving to save fuel:

  • Don't drive too fast  
  • Drive in the right gear  
  • Don't stop and start aggressively – try to smooth out your acceleration and braking
  • Don't over-rev the engine
  • Block shift gears to brake – don't go to each gear individually
  • Don't drive around with heavy things in the boot
  • Keep your tyres at the right pressure
  • Get the car serviced when it's due
  • Don't use the air conditioning
  • Take the roof rack off

Read more tips on saving fuel on the AA website.

Try our Car costs calculator to see how much your car costs you and find out where you can make savings.

Car sharing

If you commute by car, consider sharing your journey and the cost with others on the same route. It's simple if you can find workmates who live close to you – or if you share the school run with other parents nearby. There are online services that will help match your journey with others.

However, if you regularly share a car on the journey to work with another Service person, or civil servant you cannot both claim allowances for that journey. Check with your unit HR.

Car clubs

Car clubs let you hire a car by the hour or by the day. They have cars in special parking spaces around cities so there's likely to be one near you. You open the car with a special membership card, so it's much more flexible than having to visit a rental office during working hours.

Source: Car plus, Zipcar and City Car Club

You could save over £3,000 a year by joining a car club if you drive less that 6,000 miles a year.

You pay a joining fee and then pay for usage and fuel, so if you only want a car occasionally it can be a cheap alternative to owning your own car. You can save money on:

  • Insurance
  • Car tax (commonly known as Road tax)
  • Breakdown cover
  • Regular servicing
  • Repairs
  • Parking costs

Public transport

Public transport is cheaper than driving, but even so there are ways to save significant amounts of money – mainly by planning ahead. 

Saving on train tickets 

  • Get an HM Armed Forces Railcard. For a small fee you'll save 1/3rd on adult fares and 60% on kids' fares throughout Great Britain including London Tube trains and buses. Remember to renew it each year. 
  • Get a season ticket if you travel regularly.    
  • Always check for advance tickets. Some cheap advance tickets might still be available the day before you travel.
  • Buy advance tickets. You can usually buy a ticket up to three months before you need to travel, and it's often cheaper.
  • Look out for special offers, discounts and deals. Look for cheap travel deals on MoneySavingExpert.
  • Get a Railcard (if not eligible for a Forces Railcard). You get a third off on many routes, so you might save £20 on a ticket that would have cost £60. You'll often find that the cost of a Railcard pays for itself over one or two long trips. See National Railcards.
  • Split your ticket. For longer journeys, it's sometimes cheaper to buy several tickets for different segments of the journey. But remember, you must go through each of the stations on your tickets. See for more information. 
  • Get an Oyster Card if you travel in London. You can use an Oyster Card on the Tube, on buses and on most local overground trains, and it's cheaper than buying paper tickets. For example, a short Tube journey in Central London will cost you £4.90 in cash but just £2.40 on an Oyster Card.
  • You can assign your HM Forces Railcard to your Oyster Card to get travel at a 1/3 discounted rate - you need to take it to a tube station and ask that your Railcard is added to your Oyster card. If you have an HM Armed Forces Railcard you can also buy discounted Off-Peak Day Travelcards for yourself and up to four children aged between 5 and 15 to travel at anytime on weekends, and public holidays; and after 9.30 Monday to Friday during July and August or after 10.00 Monday to friday, the rest of the year.
  • Think about going by coach instead. It usually takes longer, but if you have time then going by coach is often cheaper than making the same journey by train. Don't forget to get your Armed Forces discount offered by National Express – you get as much 60% off. Though check out other offers because if you plan ahead you may find the same trip for much less.

Go by bike

Travelling by bike is almost free – plus, it keeps you fit! If you don’t have a bike and are thinking about getting one to commute with, then you might be able to benefit from a tax-free bike through the Cycle to Work scheme. Find out how much you could save by cycling.

Last reviewed: 30/11/2018

This content has been provided by the Money Advice Service