Even though gas prices seem to be dropping ever so slightly (at least near me), filling up the tank can still cause heart palpitations, so traveling a few extra blocks can often be worth nickel and diming the pump. To make that endeavor easier, former pay app SmartFuel for iPhone and iPod Touch is now offering users a free 30-trial of its gasoline price-tracking service.
SmartFuel uses its database to display the gas prices at thousands of stations across the country. Users can specify the type of gas they’re looking for (regular, mid-grade, premium, E85 or diesel) and the search radius. If you enter in a route from point A to B, SmartFuel can display station information for up to 100 miles away. This is ideal for road trips — why grab gas in Chicago for $3.99 per gallon when you can head 45 miles south and fuel up for $3.37 per gallon in Channahon, Ill. If you’re running on empty and 45 miles is too far, you can use SmartFuel to make the call whether or not to fill ’er up or only put in what you need to get to cheaper pastures.
I like that you can program frequent locations into the app, so work or home routes can be accessible with the tap of a labeled icon. Results are displayed three ways: on a map, on a map-list hybrid or in list format. Although I liked the idea of the map and hybrid, I didn’t love that SmartFuel only loads three stations at a time. The list format offers continuous scrolling, which made finding the optimal station much quicker. SmartFuel offers its sorts by nearest, cheapest or most recently updated.
On a few occasions, I did have to prompt SmartFuel to search a route multiple times before it would display any results. The glitch was sporadic, and I’d guess that its issue has more to do with my current location than anything else.
SmartFuel has dropped its membership price from $9 per year, to $2.99 per year. There are free alternatives to SmartFuel, but the free trial should make this app appealing to those particular to pretty design.