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UPDATED: How to save money on fuel costs in Austria

With the price of fuel reaching record highs - and already passing the €2 a litre mark in some places - many motorists in Austria will be wondering how to cut down on costs. Here’s how.

UPDATED: How to save money on fuel costs in Austria
Petrol and diesel prices are remaining stubbornly high in Austria. Photo: Engin Akyurt via Pexels.

On Wednesday, the price of a litre of petrol crossed the €2 mark for the first time in some parts of Austria, including in Vienna and Tyrol.

This has prompted Pamela Rendi-Wagner, leader of the Social Democrat Party of Austria (SPÖ), to call for a temporary suspension of VAT on fuel to help motorists with rising costs, as reported by Der Standard.

Fuel prices in Austria – and across Europe – have been rising steadily for weeks due to inflation fuelled by the Covid-19 pandemic and fears of global instability following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Just three weeks ago, the Austrian Automobile, Motorcycle and Touring Club (ÖAMTC) announced the average price of diesel in Austria had hit an all time high of €1.477, which (at the time) was in line with the average cost of petrol.

And prices are already set to rise again from July 2022 when a carbon levy of €30 per tonne will be added to the cost of fuel in Austria as part of an overhaul of the country’s tax system. 

Nikola Junick, Transport Economics Expert at the ÖAMTC, said: “Then the prices at the pumps will rise by 7.7 cents per litre of premium [petrol] and 8.8 cents per litre of diesel.”

READ ALSO: How Vienna’s parking system will change in March

Motorists in the west of the country are also bracing themselves for even higher prices in the summer with fuel costs typically more expensive than in the east, according to a report in the Tiroler Tageszeitung.

As a result, Junick from ÖAMTC is expecting a new fuel price record in Austria to be reached in July and is worried about the impact on motorist’s finances.

He said: “People who depend on their car every day and have to cover long distances will feel it. The government is therefore required to cushion the current price increases and at least reduce the additional burden from July. 

“Although a price stability mechanism is planned, this will only take effect for the planned increases from 2023.”

Austria’s price stability mechanism

The price stability mechanism (Preisstabilitätsmechanismus) is a Federal Government initiative that will come into effect in 2023 to monitor the cost of fossil fuel energy. The aim is to protect private households from fluctuating prices.

For example, if energy prices go up one year, then the annual increase in the CO2 tax will be reduced the following year to stabilise the prices, and vice versa.

Revenue from the CO2 levy is expected to generate around €5 billion by 2025 and coincides with the introduction of a “climate bonus” for Austrian taxpayers to offset the added cost of the measures.

But in the meantime, what can motorists do to reduce their fuel bills?

Money saving tips for motorists

The first step to saving money on the cost of petrol and diesel is to reduce how often you drive. 

This is easier in the summer months with the option to travel by bike instead of car, but for people that commute long distances to work or have a family to transport, this is not always possible.

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Then there is public transport – especially for those living in larger towns and cities. But in rural areas public transport is not as frequent or easy to access, which means for some this is not a viable option.

Other tips from ÖAMTC to save money on fuel are:

  • Fill up your car at the start of the week as fuel becomes more expensive towards the weekend.
  • Fill up in the morning to avoid the possibility of one-off price increases that are allowed from 12pm. 
  • Avoid using expensive motorway petrol stations, if possible.
  • If travelling to Tyrol or Vorarlberg, fill up your vehicle in advance to avoid higher fuel prices in these provinces.

However, for people that have to drive a car and can’t limit their usage, the best way to save money on fuel is by searching for the cheapest prices.

How to find cheap petrol and diesel in Austria

Petrol distributors and stations compete with each other, which is good news for consumers.

To make it easier to find the best deals, there is an app by ÖAMTC to help motorists find the cheapest fuel prices in their area, or wherever they are travelling in Austria.

In the ÖAMTC app, users can search by petrol or diesel (depending on their vehicle) to view details of current prices at petrol stations in the selected area.

READ MORE: Cost of living: Seven tips to save money in Austria

For example, at the time of writing, The Local found the cheapest petrol prices in Vienna to be at Turmöl on Margaretenstrasse for €1.859 per litre. Turmöl also had the cheapest diesel at €1.959.

In Graz in Styria, both Turmöl Quick on Fabriksgasse and Rumpold on Kasernstrasse has petrol for €1.854. They were both the cheapest places for diesel at €1.954.

And in Innsbruck in Tyrol, BP Express on Höttinger had the cheapest petrol price at €1.959. Diesel was priced the same at most Innsbruck Tankstellen (petrol stations) at €1.999.

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COST OF LIVING

Can British people in Austria claim the winter fuel payment from the UK?

It’s no secret that winter is set to be expensive with rising energy costs. But some British people in Austria might be able to access financial support through the UK benefits system.

Can British people in Austria claim the winter fuel payment from the UK?

In the UK, there are various benefits available to help eligible people through the cold winter months – one of which is the winter fuel payment.

And, as the rising cost of living in Austria takes a chunk out of household budgets, some British people are wondering if they can still claim this benefit while living in Austria.

To find out, we took a closer look at the rules for claiming the winter fuel payment from the UK while overseas.

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What is the UK’s winter fuel payment?

The winter fuel payment is a tax-free payment to help older people with heating costs during the cold winter months.

Eligible people are those born on or before 25th September 1956 who were living in the UK during the qualifying week (starting the third Monday in September).

How much people receive depends on their age and whether anyone else in the household is also eligible, but the amount is usually between £100 and £300.

Those living in a care home or nursing home only qualify for the benefit if they are already receiving pension credit, income-based job seekers allowance or employment and support allowance.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What will happen to Austria’s property market in 2023?

I’m a UK national living in Austria. Can I claim the winter fuel payment?

As with most issues related to bureaucracy, the answer to the question above is: it depends.

Official guidance from the UK government states that you may be able to claim the winter fuel benefit from abroad if you are at least 68 years of age, live in Switzerland or an EEA country, have a genuine link to the UK (such as family) and you’re covered by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

Additionally, having previously claimed the winter fuel payment in the UK before moving abroad is not a requirement.

So, in theory, some British people living in Austria will be able to claim this benefit from the UK, as long as they were already in Austria by 31st December 2020.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: How does the Austrian pension system work?

However, only those that lived and worked in the UK for most of their life can claim the winter fuel payment, according to the online checker on the UK government website. 

This means if you moved to Austria for retirement and you meet the other criteria, then you probably will be eligible. But if you lived and worked in Austria for most of your adult life, maybe not.

How to claim the winter fuel payment?

To make a claim for this benefit for the first time, you will need to call the Winter Fuel Payment hotline on +44 (0)191 218 7777. The phone lines are open from Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm (UK time).

Alternatively, you can apply by post by filling in the IPCF091 form.

To apply for the winter fuel payment, you will need to provide your National Insurance number and bank details. The authorities will also ask for a copy of the Article 50 Card to prove that you were living in Austria by 31st December 2020.

Find out more about the application process at the UK government website.

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