Fuel price pain ahead for motorists this long weekend


Motorists across Australia are being warned of a petrol price sting over the Easter long weekend, with prices already exceeding $2 per litre in many parts of the country and more pain expected in the coming weeks.

While the national average price for Unleaded 91 is currently $1.84 a litre, motorists in some parts of greater Sydney are already paying a high of $2.13 a litre for unleaded 91. Prices at some stations in greater Melbourne and greater Brisbane have also pushed past the $2 mark, while stations in Adelaide aren't far behind.

It's unfortunate timing.

easter long weekend petrol prices

School holidays have already kicked off across parts of the country and many families will be packing up their cars and hitting the road to make the most of the extra-long weekend. Unfortunately, early signs indicate that many of us will be feeling the pain at the bowser over the Easter period.

Over the last week in Sydney, 50% of fuel stations increased their prices as the city faced its latest fuel pricing cycle. Melbourne is also entering its new pricing cycle, so prices at more stations are expected to climb there as well.

Meanwhile, it's been around six weeks since the last pricing cycle in Brisbane, so the river city is well and truly due to see higher prices.

Fuel price cycles aside, it's common for motorists to see higher prices during busy periods.

Some fuel retailers are known for hiking their prices when we head into these busy periods on our roads. Unfortunately, Easter is one of the busiest times for road trips.

Fuel stations along major arterial roads tend to have higher prices, mainly due to convenience. Similarly, you'll usually also pay more in areas where there's less competition, such in regional areas. This is something to keep in mind if you're travelling out of major cities at Easter.

However, it's not all bad news as there are still opportunities to sniff out a bargain.

Thankfully, some retailers will keep their prices down to draw motorists in, so it's entirely possible to find lower prices - even over the long weekend.

For example, there's currently a 47-cent difference between the cheapest and most expensive prices in Sydney. That's around $23.50 in savings if you're filling up a 50-litre tank.

In Melbourne, we're seeing a difference of 35 cents between the most expensive and cheapest prices, which is around $17.50 in savings when filling up a full tank. It's slightly more in Brisbane at 44 cents, which is around $22 when filling up a 50-litre tank. That's quite a significant saving.

Just as the major supermarkets set their own prices for groceries, petrol stations do the same. Even though we're expecting to see prices push past that painful $2 mark, some retailers will sell fuel below this price. This is why it's vital to put the pedal to the metal and hunt around for deals.

Spending a few moments researching can save you significantly - especially as many of us hit the road and take advantage of the four-day long weekend.

We're also seeing oil prices cooling off overseas, which theoretically should be bringing wholesale prices for fuel down and reducing the cost at the pump. The average Australian wholesale cost for fuel is currently $1.74 - down from $1.80 late last year.

It's vital to save on fuel where you can.

Apps like Compare the Market's Simples Fuel App are one of the best ways you can easily compare fuel prices and search for nearby discounts. You might be able to find a better deal by driving just a few minutes down the road or you could discover the station you always visit is ripping you off.

Also pay careful attention to the fuel discounts available through your supermarket's rewards programs, any offers you can utilise through roadside assistance programs and if you can redeem a shopping discount for a lower price at the bowser.

Now's the time to take the driver's seat and pay less for fuel - especially as we head into one of the busiest periods on our roads.

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Chris Ford is the general manager of media and communications at Compare the Market. He studied journalism at the University of Queensland, and has more than 13 years' experience in media.