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MONEY

Where to get the cheapest fuel in Spain

Filling up your tank is getting more expensive in Spain as global fuel prices rise. Here's where you can find the cheapest fuel in Spain and other ways to save on petrol costs.

petrol station in Spain
Where are the cheapest places to buy fuel in Spain? Photo: Juan Fernandez / Unsplash

Petrol and gas prices have skyrocketed across Europe since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including in Spain.

Russia is the world’s third-largest oil producer and second-largest exporter, but the Ukraine crisis has only exacerbated the problem, since petrol prices have been on an upward trend here in Spain since May 2021. 

Add this to exorbitant electricity prices over the past year and the rising costs of goods, and it’s no wonder this is putting a huge strain on our wallets. 

READ ALSO: The food products that are more expensive than ever in Spain

The average price at the pump in Spain is now €1.76 per litre for petrol/gasoline and €1.6 for diesel, reaching historic highs.

However, this varies a lot between service stations and regions. In the Basque Country for example, prices have already reached €2 per litre for petrol in some places. 

What determines the price of fuel?

The international price per barrel affects the cost of fuel around the globe, but that is only part of it.

The reasons for the price increase are varied. One is the increase in demand due to the economic recovery after the pandemic, but there is also an increase in the price of a barrel of oil, as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Every petrol station franchise has other expenses such as production, distribution and marketing costs, which include wholesaler and retailer margins. This may be what makes smaller franchise fuel stations cheaper than big national chains.

The price is also affected by taxes and other associated costs, such as the maintenance of strategic reserves and the contribution to the National Energy Efficiency Fund.

In Spain, liquid fuels derived from petroleum are subject to two taxes: VAT and the Special Tax on Hydrocarbons (IEH).

READ ALSO: Why is electricity in Spain more expensive than ever?

So where are the cheapest places to fill up?

According to Spain’s main consumer watchdog OCU, filling up your tank of petrol will now cost you €16 more than it did a year ago. This means that choosing the right place to fill up, could save you a significant amount of money. 

The driver portal deiselogasolina.com has found that Ballenoil, BonÀrea, and Alcampo service station chains are the cheapest places to fill up, while Repsol, Cepsa, Galp and Shell are most expensive.

For example, the average price of litre of unleaded 95 petrol at a Repsol station is €1.80, while at BonArea, it will cost you an average of €1.58. 

Fill up locally  

According to the OCU, the most expensive places to fill up are the ones that have the most service stations and are more prevalent throughout the whole country, while those with the lowest prices tend to be budget regional or supermarket chains, with less presence on motorways.

The average price of gas stations located on the main roads or highways is usually higher than the rest.  

If you want to save on fuel, it’s best to fill up in your local town before you hit the road.

Gas stations with the lowest prices tend to be in agricultural areas and smaller cities next to large cities, but it is difficult to find them because only one in six has low price levels compared to the average.

How to find the cheapest petrol stations?

Prices vary from region to region and area to area, so how do you know where to find the cheapest place to fill up? 

Google Maps

One of the best ways to find out the cheapest place is in fact via Google Maps, where you can find the up to date prices for each station. It works both on the mobile app and a computer. First, click on Petrol Station or Gasolinera button, which appears below or next to the search bar. This will generate a map of all the petrol stations and their prices, closest to you. You can also change the search area, if you want to check the prices somewhere else. 

Keep in mind that not all petrol stations will display prices. If you want to find out the prices of different types of petrol, as well as diesel at a particular petrol station, simply click on it and it will give a list of the types it offers and the prices. 

Other websites 

There are several other websites that work in a similar way to Google Maps, including elpreciodelagasolina.com and dieselogasolina.com. You simply type in or find your region and the sites will produce a map, along with a list of the cheapest petrol stations near you. 

You can also consult the website Geoportalgasolineras, from the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Tourism.

This online page allows you to research ahead of time so you know where it’s cheaper to refuel according to your city or region. It publishes updated prices and also allows you to filter the results by type of fuel. 

Apps 

Apps such as GasAll and Gasolineras España are also good options, which detail the prices of petrol near you and allow you to compare the price of different types. 

The OCU also has a search engine for cheaper places to fill up in your area, available here

Keep an eye out for the section with a list of all existing discount plans too.

Spanish vocabulary:

Gasolinera – gas or petrol station

El carburante – fuel (petrol/gas and diesel)

Gasolina  – petrol/gas

Diésel – diesel

Gasolina sin plomo – unleaded petrol

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DRIVING IN SPAIN

Can the UK’s Blue Badge for disabled parking be used in Spain?

The UK’s Blue Badge scheme allows disabled drivers to park in special parking spaces closer to their destination, but can it be used if you're on holiday in Spain or living in Spain? The Local has spoken with the British Embassy in Madrid to find out.

Can the UK's Blue Badge for disabled parking be used in Spain?

The Blue Badge for disabled drivers issued by UK authorities features a symbol of a person in a wheelchair and should be displayed in the front of your car if you’re parked in a special disabled spot.

But can you use the same badge in your car in Spain?

When the UK was still part of the EU, these disabled badges for parking could be used throughout the bloc, but since January 1st 2021 when Brexit officially came into force, there have been some doubt regarding this. 

In other words, some disabled drivers visiting Spain who wish to rent a car or British residents living in Spain with UK disability cards are now uncertain as to whether their badges will be recognised here or not. 

In Spain, on roads and in car parks, parking places reserved for disabled people are marked with a wheelchair symbol.

The EU has its own parking card for people with disabilities and the recognition of the UK’s badge has always been an informal agreement between governments.

The advice from the UK government has always been for UK Blue Badge holders to check locally within the country they are travelling to, before using it abroad. 

The British Embassy in Madrid told The Local: “This advice did not change following the UK’s exit from the EU and to date no EU/EEA nation has specifically stated that it will not recognise a UK-issued disabled parking card”. 

However, the rules and advice are slightly different depending on if you are visiting Spain or living here. 

The UK government website states “You can use your UK Blue Badge when travelling in some European Union (EU) countries, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland”.

However, under the list of EU countries where you can use the UK Blue Badge, the UK government says Spain is “undecided” and asks drivers to check with the Spanish Embassy for more information.

This is causing a lot of uncertainty among UK Blue Badge holders and has sparked many debates on social media groups used by Brits in Spain. 

The British Embassy in Madrid has confirmed to The Local that: “Where the table states ‘undecided’, that doesn’t indicate that a particular nation has stated they will not recognise a UK issued parking card, merely that the UK doesn’t have a specific notification of reciprocity of the UK’s goodwill gesture”. 

This means that while Spain has not officially said that it will not recognise a disabled blue parking badge issued in the UK, there is no reciprocal agreement in place. 

While many British people visiting Spain say that they are continuing to use them without problem, others are reporting that Spanish authorities in some areas will not accept them anymore.

One member of the N332 Facebook group, (a group created by Spanish traffic police officers and volunteers) wrote: “To be honest I use my blue badge in Spain and it has not caused me any issues since Brexit. I think as long as a badge is displayed in the parking spaces no one will say or do anything”.

However, another commentator said that their friend was fined for using a UK blue badge in Spain.

According to the Spanish authorities, fines of up to €200 can be handed out for those who park in a disabled spot without the proper permit, although that’s not to say that a UK Blue Badge is not a proper permit.

So if you’re visiting Spain and have a disabled parking card, you should contact the local authorities first to find out if you can use your UK-issued parking card, otherwise you technically could be using it at your own risk and could be fined.  

In some places in Spain, you may find that authorities turn a blind eye, while in others may tell you that your badge is not valid.

Can you use your UK Blue Badge if you’re living in Spain?

The UK government website states: “If you have a UK Blue Badge and live in Spain, you must return it to the original UK issuing authority. You can apply for a new Spanish disabled parking card. The process is different in each region of Spain. Contact your local town hall or social services department for further information”.

So those who live in Spain should apply for the equivalent of the UK’s blue badge here. This is called the Tarjeta acreditativa de discapacidad or Tarjeta de grado de discapacidad, depending on where you live.

Examples of different disabled parking cards issued by Spain’s regions. Image: Fundación Once

The not-for-profit project Support in Spain warns that it can be a lengthy process to apply for the Spanish equivalent and that many have been waiting months or even years for their cards to be issued. This has left many foreign disabled residents in Spain in a difficult situation.

Another member of the N332 Facebook group wrote: “Why does it take so long to get a blue badge in Spain? My husband has advanced Parkinson’s and dementia. We have been waiting almost a year and our town hall tells me this is normal”. 

How to apply for Spain’s disabled parking card?

Firstly, in order to apply, you will need to make an appointment with your doctor in Spain to certify that you have a degree of disability that warrants a disabled parking card. Typically, applicants must prove that they have a disability of at least 33 percent in order to be eligible for the Spanish disabled parking card.

Your doctor may also need to refer you to a specialist. Getting this disability certificate, or reconocimiento de discapacidad as it’s called in Spanish, is the reason the process takes so long. This certificate is the same document you’ll need in order to apply for disability benefits in Spain too.

As mentioned above, the process of applying is slightly different, depending on what region of Spain you live in. Typically, you will have to go to your local Equality and Social Policies Department (Departamento de Igualdad y Políticas Sociales) or at your local town hall (ayuntamiento) and fill out the necessary paperwork.

This will then need to be submitted along with your disability certificate and any notes from your doctors, before your application can be processed. 

Those who are worried about how long the process will take should contact their local town hall to find out the average time frame in their area. 

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