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'Tanks-A-Lot' and other ploys to ease pump woes

As the summer driving season gets under way on Memorial Day weekend, hotels, retailers, and even churches are running promotions to help consumers with high gasoline prices.

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Say no to premium gas. Unless your car requires it, don't buy premium gas. It will not increase your gas mileage, only your bill. Additionally, the majority of additives promising to increase fuel economy don't make a noticeable difference, says Hyde from the AAA.

John Raoux/AP

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There is an upside to $4-a-gallon gasoline.

Yes, you heard that correctly.

As the summer driving season gets under way on Memorial Day weekend, hotels, retailers, and even churches are offering prepaid gas cards and mileage discounts. At least one auto company, Chrysler, is offering to lock in the gasoline price over the next three years at $2.99 a gallon for car buyers. And financial entrepreneurs are dreaming up complex schemes to help consumers limit their "pump shock."

"It's brilliant," says Dennis Hoffman, professor of economics at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. "The marketing people have no recourse: They have to play into this."

Indeed, a Rand McNally survey taken at the end of April found that 2 in 3 adults who plan to take a road trip this summer say that rising gasoline prices have changed their travel plans. Many now plan either a shorter amount of time or distance. Ten percent plan to cancel their trip altogether.

"This is the third year of the survey, and in the past, even when gas hit $3 per gallon, there was no significant effect on travel plans," says Laurie Borman, editorial director of Rand McNally, which is based in Chicago. "But this time, gasoline is a lot higher. Probably we have reached that psychological tipping point where you say, 'Oops, this is too high.' "

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