The price of fuel is at an 18-month high and experts have predicted that the cost of petrol and diesel will rise yet further this month. But there are manoeuvres you can make to drive down the price you pay at the pumps.

According to the RAC, the price of unleaded petrol reached 117.23p/litre on 29 December, the highest it has been since December 2014. Diesel prices also rose to 119.3p/litre, which is the highest cost since July 2015.

To put these recent fuel price rises into perspective, the cost of filling up an average family car with a 55-litre fuel tank with petrol increased by 1.60 over the course of last month, from 62.83 to 64.48, while the cost of filling up an equivalent diesel vehicle rose from 64.11 to 65.80.

During the course of 2016 unleaded went up 14.5p/litre from 102.99p at the beginning of January, and diesel increased 13.64p from 105.99p/litre, although the diesel price went on to reach a low at the end of January of 101.05p, meaning motorists are now paying 18.5p more a litre now.

Consequently, it now costs 8 more for a tank of petrol than it did at the same time last year and 10 more for diesel based on the end-of-January low price of 101.05p/litre.

Meanwhile, there could be more bad news for motorists as the RAC is predicting that fuel prices may rise further throughout January. RAC fuel spokesperson Simon Williams says: "Our current forecast for the next two weeks is for petrol to be around the 118p mark and for diesel to go up to around 121p a litre."

With the cost of filling up likely to get even more expensive in the weeks ahead, check out our Cheap Fuel Guide for hints and tips on how to reduce the price you pay at the pumps.

Martin Lewis
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What can I do to reduce the amount I'm paying for fuel?

There are a number of ways you might be able to cut the cost of fuel if you're among the millions of motorists facing further price hikes.

  • Compare prices. While 117.23p may seem too high for a litre of petrol, this is only an average price across the UK, so those willing to seek out a better deal should be able to find one.

    If you don't have time or the petrol to drive to multiple filling stations, you can use a comparison site such as PetrolPrices.com, which list the cheapest petrol stations in your area. A quick check can save you a bundle.

  • Fill up on holiday. Stats produced by the RAC (below) highlight a significant difference in the average fuel price between the regions. That's great if you live in the north of the country where prices are lower but not so good if you reside in the south east where prices are significantly higher.

    If you happen to be driving to a part of the country where fuel prices are cheaper than where you live, make sure you fill up before you come home to save money.
Regional average unleaded pump prices per litre
Region 4 Dec 2016 29 Dec 2016 Change
East Anglia 114.25 117.06 2.81
East Midlands 114.15 117.13 2.98
North East 113.66 117.01 3.35
North West 113.99 116.94 2.95
South East 114.97 117.84 2.87
South West 114.22 117.03 2.81
West Midlands 114.30 117.20 2.90
Yorkshire and Humber 113.57 116.81 3.24
Northern Ireland 113.68 115.58 1.90
Scotland 113.22 116.97 3.75
Wales 113.50 116.57 3.07
Regional average diesel pump prices per litre
Region 4 Dec 2016 29 Dec 2016 Change
East Anglia 116.86 120.10 3.24
East Midlands 116.34 119.42 3.08
North 116.01 119.32 3.31
North West 116.29 119.09 2.80
South East 117.23 120.28 3.05
South West 116.58 119.66 3.08
West Midlands 116.65 119.63 2.98
Yorkshire and Humber 116.34 119.29 2.95
Northern Ireland 115.17 117.88 2.71
Scotland 116.07 119.66 3.59
Wales 116.04 119.23 3.19
  • Drive efficiently and smoothly. One of the easiest ways to use less fuel is to make sure you're driving as smoothly as possible. Speeding up quickly and braking harshly while driving is one of the biggest causes in increasing your fuel costs, so changing your driving habits can also change your finances.

  • Petrol cashback credit cards. When spending on a cashback credit card, you get money back every time you spend on the card. Usually they pay the same rate back no matter what you purchase but increased fuel prices have launched a trend for cards that pay high cashback when filling the car.

    But remember if you're using a 0% credit card to set up a monthly direct debit to pay off the card in full so you aren't stung by high interest rates when the 0% period comes to an end.
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