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Should You Offer Gas Money?

Gas money.

The inevitable question for carpools, shared rides, and mooching roommates. Do you give your friend who picked you up for the movie a couple of bucks for gas? Do you hand your sister $5 for driving you out to the family reunion? Is it even appropriate? Will they be offended if you offer?

As a person who doesn’t have a vehicle, I often have to ask others for rides. When I go out for drinks with friends, I almost always get a ride. When I am headed somewhere, I often get picked up or dropped off somewhere. I am lucky to have such generous friends who are willing and able to give me a lift, so I try to give them gas money when they are inconvenienced.

The other day when my wife and I suddenly had to hop into our friend’s car and beg to get a ride home, I started to wonder whether gas money is always required, or if it should be reserved for certain situations. I know some people who would never even offer gas money as they feel as though they don’t have the responsibility to. After all, it is not as if they are the one driving the car, and with the benefit of the car comes the cost of transportation. Is that right though? Should you offer gas money, or shouldn’t you?

When is Gas Money Appropriate?

If you are wondering if giving the driver gas money is appropriate, I think that there are a few questions that you have to ask yourself. First, how much time, distance, and effort is the driver going through, in order to give you a ride? It is easy to simply figure out how far the driver is going, and tell yourself that it is really only a couple of kilometres away. Surely they don’t want compensation for such a small distance. But what you should also consider is how much time this might cost the driver. Even if it is only a few blocks, traffic might dictate just how long it takes for them to drive you. A short distance drive isn’t always a short drive. In addition, are they leaving their family to give you a ride? Is it on their only day off? Are they borrowing someone else’s vehicle just to get you where you need to go?

Ask yourself:

  • Do they have to go out of their way?
  • Are they already going in that direction?
  • Have they already given you a ride recently?

All in all, gas money is appropriate when you feel like it would be appreciated. Whether they are driving you a long way (like on a road trip), or if they went out of their way to help you (drove to get you, and then drove you right back to where they were), or if this is the third ride in two days that you’re getting, gas money shows that you appreciate the time, money, and effort that they have invested in you. Likewise, if you know that offering gas money would be insulting because your relationship with that person is beyond minor financial inconveniences (they are your father, your spouse, your child, etc), then offering gas money might not be appreciated, and might even damage the relationship.

I believe that offering gas money is more about the thought than the amount. Half the time, when you offer, your friend may refuse, saying that it wasn’t that big of a deal. But even if they regularly decline, I would suggest that you still offer.

If you are refusing to offer gas money just in order to save your money, then you probably should reconsider your transportation options. Most people are willing to give you a ride or two, but those rides will dry up if you aren’t willing to contribute financially. Don’t let your friends drive you more than two or three times without at least offering gas money. Who knows? They might need the money even more than you do.

What do you think? Do you ask for rides? Do you offer gas money? Do you give rides to your friends? Do you ask for gas money?


  1. Kevin@OutOfYourRut

    I think offering to pay should be part of the protocol! It’s perfectly alright to rely on others; we all need to from time to time, but we never want to be or appear as if we’re taking advantage. Making the offer at least, will put the issue to bed.

    That said, it’s probably best to round up–to go at least a bit high on the amount of cash given. It isn’t just gas, it’s time and wear and tear.

    It may not be necessary with people with whom we have reciprocal relationships, but if it’s someone we don’t regularly help, we should offer. Also, as you wrote, if it’s a long or inconvenient trip, we should offer no matter what.

  2. Bank Guru

    Great article!

    Just wish they made more fuel efficient cars.

  3. The Rat

    They say that the average cost of a vehicle for a person is about 30% of their gross income.

    I think its only appropriate to ask someone who is giving you a ride if they want any gas money; besides, for the most part, people will say “don’t bother!”

    As Kevin mentioned, it is part of the protocol of common decency, and by you asking people if they want money for gas speaks volumes as to the type of person you are. I know people that get rides from others and would never be courteous enough to ask if they want a few bucks for some gas.

    When I go on vacation without a vehicle and relatives and/or friends are carting me around, I often ask if they want gas money or not. The most often answer is no and I find that if I am ‘bumming’ rides a lot in the run of a week, i’ll pay for the person’s way into a movie or buy them lunch or something.

    Great thread! Never seen one like this b4
    The RAT

    • Susan Carver

      I would NOT ASK if someone wanted gas money. I would just HAND THE MONEY TO THEM as I already know that I have used some of their gas. If an appointment is an hour away, just hand them $20 because that is two hour’s of gas and wear and tear. Don’t ASK when you already KNOW that they should be refunded gas money that was used for YOUR needs.
      Consider the fact that the driver has sacrificed time he needed to work on his “To Do” list. It is a major inconvenience as he has somehow got to find the time to do the things he was supposed to be doing instead of driving, plus driving is work and can be quite stressful.

  4. youngandthrifty

    I think if it’s on the way, it’s alright. If it’s really out of the way though then I think it’s appropriate to chip in for gas money.

    Gas is so expensive these days (especially with all the tax we have to pay in Canada– and more, thanks to Gordo Campbell)…

  5. SimplyForties

    The main key is whether or not you’re taking advantage of someone else in order to save money. If you don’t own a car because you can’t afford one but then accept free rides from friends to make up for it, you are taking advantage. This shouldn’t require so much analysis. If you’re stewing about whether or not you should be offering to pay, it’s probably your conscience talking.

  6. mel

    my friend does not have a car and when we all arrange to meet, she automatically assumes she has a lift with me, she never once asks for one, and when i pick her up she never offers any money for gas, or to pay for my lunch, anything, and its time consuming and costly to get her sometimes. not only that, she wants to get her license now and she expects myself or my husband to teach her how to drive with our car, and im guessing she wont be shelling out petrol for that either, not to mention the risk we take by helping her. im so frustrated by her inconsiderate behavior i want to end this friendship. i mean im at a point that whenever she tries to get ahold of me i avoid her, because its because she wants a lift, etc. i think im more upset that she never offers. i dont think i would take the money, (although sometimes i actually really need it and i am also broke myself) but it would be nice to offer…

    • Joanne

      I would end this ´friendship’. She is using you.

  7. Lin

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  8. Done being used by users!!

    I gave my last ride a few months ago to a friend who expects rides to the airport and around town to pick up her car from the shop,and the rental car place ect.. She even wanted me to pick her boyfriend up from the airport when her car was broke down at 10:30 at night because his flight wasn’t leaving until the next day. I didn’t do it but she didn’t offer gas money to make that trip,the next day he must have sprung for a shuttle but had the nerve again to ask me to drive him in bumper to bumper rush hour traffic to a airport about 27 miles away with AGAIN no offer for gas. She may have given me something duringthese several rides but why should I have to ask. This is sa user and a freeloader! Over a year ago I offered to give her a ride,but since then she’s asked for maybe a total of about 10,and I’ve given her about six,never getting a dime for these rides. Gas is expensive in California and I can barely scrape together money for myself for gas,she recently tried to sponge another ride on me. I just told her “NO, I can’t afford to give rides right now,gas is expensive,and I can barely put $5.00 in my tank,she didn’t reply back but the point is I’M DONE!!!! She used up all her free passes and her rides have dried out! People if you ask for rides ,offer your friend money.don’t be a freeloader and cheap skate!We’re better off without you takers who do this!

  9. Nick

    My girlfriends eldest daughter(not mine) doesnt drive yet expects her mom to be there to give her rides when she wants. She has never offered any gas money & has even asked to go through the drive thru & not even bought her a coffee. As I pay everything for the vehicles, I believe even just the offer should be there & now I find myself saying no to the rides. Yes it’s not far but there is the inconvenience of it

  10. April

    I work with someone who is my neighbor. My car broke and I barely can afford alt transportation. She offered a ride but I felt bad taking it. .We have the same schedule and live by each other. I don’t like to ask for a lift but she mentioned that I should’ve asked to get a ride rather that take pub transportation. Someone asked do I offer gas money. I never thought about it because we live by each other. Since I was never in this situation, I never thought about it before. What are your thoughts.

    • Joanne

      Yes! You give her money absolutely. You would have to pay for the bus or a cab to get to work so yes you have to contribute. If you offer and she doesnt accept then you get her a small gift to show your appreciation…. bottle of wine ect.
      The freeloader look is not attractive.

  11. Corinne J Yaworski

    I gave someone that I know a ride. When I first gave her a ride it was okay. Then she became quite aggressive with asking for rides again and again. She had no money she said. But I get a monthly pension check and was in no position to help her. I found out she was trying to save money and eventually walked to her destination. She still remained angry at me for not providing rides for her. No more guilt trips!

  12. Imaginos

    My SO and I often go fishing together. Usually it’s local so he’ll turn down the offer when I make it. So I don’t really ask anymore. But if we go to the other side of the state or out of state, then I will usually pay him between $10 and $15 for each trip.

  13. Skylar

    My In Laws ALWAYS expect to much. I have givin them 3 rides in the last week and they haven’t offered me a dime! I own my own business and work from home so my time is really important. In addition they know anytime I go out I always go to a coffee drive thru, and like any driver I ask “does anyone want anything?” They say yes and don’t offer to pay for their own drinks they asked for. This isn’t the first time they have asked for rides. There has been times where it has been 2 hours round trip and another where it cost me $80 in gas and the list goes on…..I think I’m being taken advantage of because I’m financially stable and they are definitely not, but that is not my problem. What it boils down to is a least offer gas money just don’t sit there in silence and always expect!!

  14. Leo

    Depends on the relationship and depend on if the person like driving or not. Perfect world the passenger should always offer and everyone in the car should pay not some and not others.

    There is a very high cost.

  15. Trista

    What if it’s an inlaw? My husband drove an hour to/from the airport to pick up his mother. I actually didn’t mind paying for the gas/travel/parking because she is his mother.

    But during the visit, she expect us to driver her all over the state to “show her a nice time” because she was on vacation. She didn’t ever offer to pay for any meal (or even just her own), and when we went food shopping, she’d throw all kinds of food in the cart that she wanted — then wouldn’t eat it.

    I’m actually frustrated because I lost a week of vacation, quite a bit of money, and honestly feel like I’d rather just not have her to my home again.

    I should say that when my husband did visit her last, he paid for meals and gave her a $100 gift card for gas and expenses for him just staying with her. It was only for two days but I thought that was the right thing to do.

    Thoughts? Am I the asshole here?

  16. Dixie

    My uncle asks for rides,I live by him he’s 82 and very cheap he doesn’t drive since his daughter moved out and I’ve probably given him about 6 rides now,he never offers,even had me get money out of the cash machine for him. I brought it once over the phone casually to give me gas and he laughed. I think I’m going to start saying no.

  17. Elle

    I always paid half the gas money but then I got charged a double amount of money that I should be expected to pay for ICBC for driving further, wear and tear on tires, more oil etc. Is this appropriate in a relationship?

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