7 Ways to Save Money on Commuting to Work

By Matthew Zeitlin · May 30, 2023 · 7 minute read

We’re here to help! First and foremost, SoFi Learn strives to be a beneficial resource to you as you navigate your financial journey. Read more We develop content that covers a variety of financial topics. Sometimes, that content may include information about products, features, or services that SoFi does not provide. We aim to break down complicated concepts, loop you in on the latest trends, and keep you up-to-date on the stuff you can use to help get your money right. Read less

7 Ways to Save Money on Commuting to Work

Many people are back into the full-time commuting groove again and finding that it can be a major cost. And by cost, it can mean the impact it has on both money and mood.

Some people spend 30 minutes commuting each way; others two or three times that. Some get on an express train while others drive their own car and deal with traffic woes and gas prices.

One way to lessen the burden of commuting (beyond listening to terrific podcasts while en route) is to lower the cost. Here, learn smart ways to do just that.

How Much Does It Cost To Commute?

First, there’s the per-mile cost of gasoline. Commuting to work is a major portion of all driving in the United States. But a hidden cost of driving is depreciation, a car’s loss in value over time. It’s the largest annual cost of car ownership, according to AAA, accounting for more than a third of the average annual cost. Add increased maintenance and repair costs of cars as they age and are driven more frequently.

AAA pegged maintenance and repair costs at almost 9.68 cents per mile and fuel costs at 17.99 cents per mile, meaning that beyond fixed costs of car ownership, a 15-mile one-way commute would cost about $8.30 a day and, at around 250 days of work a year, $2,075.25 annually, before expenses like auto depreciation, tolls, and insurance.

The easiest way to reduce these costs is to minimize or eliminate a commute to work.

💡 Quick Tip: Tired of paying pointless bank fees? When you open a bank account online you often avoid excess charges.

Get up to $300 when you bank with SoFi.

Open a SoFi Checking and Savings Account with direct deposit and get up to a $300 cash bonus. Plus, get up to 4.60% APY on your cash!


1. Aiming for a ‘Remote First’ Culture

Working remotely part- or full-time is a surefire way to cut commuting time and costs. The easiest way to maximize working from home is to find a job at a company where it’s standard. This option has become popular since the pandemic.

If your work makes it possible to work from home sometimes, you may want to try to make it a regular occurrence. That way you can more easily optimize your time spent in the office and save tasks best for home for the day you regularly work from home.

If you work from home regularly, it also means you can get better at it, from setting up a home office that truly works to figuring out how working at home can make you more productive than working in the office, not merely save you the time and money of a long commute — although that’s important, too. There are also possible home office tax deductions.

Of course, the easiest way to save money commuting to work is not to do it at all. This not only spares the cost of gas, maintenance, subway tickets, or bus fare, but it also saves precious time.

The money that would have been spent on a commute to work can be put in a savings account to hit other savings goals.

Recommended: Making Working From Home Actually Work

2. Living Closer to the Job

One of the most obvious ways to reduce commute time is to make it so your car is less expensive.

There are roughly two ways to do this: Drive less or drive less expensively.

The easiest way to drive less is to live closer to work. While that may save money on gas and maintenance, it could end up being more expensive to live closer to work, especially in a large city.

One of the main amenities people seek when deciding where to live is distance from their job. If you work near where a lot of other people work, trying to live near that job is likely to be pricey as the cost of living may be higher.

So how to make driving less expensive if you can’t reduce the amount of driving necessary to get work? Get someone else to drive, at least some of the time, or drive cheaply.

💡 Quick Tip: If you’re creating a budget, try the 50/30/20 budget rule. Allocate 50% of your after-tax income to the “needs” of life, like living expenses and debt. Spend 30% on wants, and then save the remaining 20% towards saving for your long-term goals.

3. Giving Carpooling a Spin

Carpooling means a shared ride to and from work, typically with someone who works in the same area or nearby.

Carpooling doesn’t magically get rid of the costs of commuting to work, but it can distribute them among riders or reduce them. Gas costs can be split, and maintenance costs can be reduced as the car is operated less frequently.

Even if you’re the one driving, you can often get access to high-occupancy-vehicle lanes, which means less time on the road and less time stalled in traffic.

4. Getting a Cheaper Car

Let’s say you have no choice about how far you have to drive and how frequently you have to do it. That may be a bummer, but it doesn’t mean you’re out of options for saving money. Some cars are cheaper to operate than others, and there are wide variations between them. Basically, smaller is better.

For new cars, according to AAA, a small sedan is the cheapest to own, costing $54.56 per mile, even less than hybrids (64.61 cents) and electric (60.32 cents) vehicles.

More numbers to know: the costs for small SUVs (62.17 cents per mile) and medium sedans (69.01 cents).

There are, of course, other ways to get around besides a car.

Recommended: Do You Have Sound Money Values?

5. Taking Public Transportation

About 5% of commuters are straphangers, bus riders, and other transit users, according to U.S. Census data. While a mass-transit commute to work is not costless, it can certainly save money on a per-trip basis.

Even if you own a car, using mass transit (or driving to a transit stop) won’t spare you from insurance, the cost of a new car, or depreciation, but the costs of car ownership associated with actual driving (gas, maintenance, etc.) will go down.

The only downside is that the ability to commute to work by public transit is often largely determined by locale. Someone who works in an area with a public transit system that serves the office can choose to live somewhere with efficient access to that system.

This will likely be in or near a large city, where the share of commuters who use public transit is far higher than the 5% national average.

If you work in a city like New York, Chicago, Washington, Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, or Baltimore, public transit might be an efficient commuting option.

And although public transit may not entirely remove the need for a car, it could make it so a household with two adults only needs a single car, vastly reducing the cost of car ownership.

Finally, some companies offer commuter benefits, such as pretax income to be spent on costs related to the commute.

💡 Quick Tip: If you’re faced with debt and wondering which kind to pay off first, it can be smart to prioritize high-interest debt first. For many people, this means their credit card debt; rates have recently been climbing into the double-digit range, so try to eliminate that ASAP.

6. Doing the Legwork

Often the most affordable way to get to work is without a car; that means by foot, bicycle, or some other non-internal-combustion vehicle. Biking may be impractical or stressful in many parts of the country.

Still, some commuters are up for the challenge. Cycling provides an aerobic workout and triggers the release of endorphins, builds muscle, and increases bone density.

Rolling road warriors may want to invest in a variety of gear (safety and comfort can be enhanced), whose price tags are mitigated by a lack of car-related bills.

Recommended: Reasons to Switch Bank Accounts

7. Tracking Expenses

To reduce costs, commuters have to first get a handle on their spending, whether for gas, maintenance, or mass transit — or even coffees, snacks, and lunches on the job. Creating a budget and accounting for where your money goes is an important step.

This can help you see where your money is spent and make adjustments to maximize your buying and saving power. For instance, you might decide it’s worthwhile to buy your gas from a lower-priced gas station or apply for a gas credit card.

The Takeaway

By better understanding the cost of commuting, you can make wise decisions about lowering your costs and saving money on this often-daily expense. From working from home when possible to carpooling and beyond, there are ways to keep your costs down.

Better banking is here with SoFi, NerdWallet’s 2024 winner for Best Checking Account Overall.* Enjoy up to 4.60% APY on SoFi Checking and Savings.


SoFi® Checking and Savings is offered through SoFi Bank, N.A. ©2023 SoFi Bank, N.A. All rights reserved. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.
The SoFi Bank Debit Mastercard® is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A., pursuant to license by Mastercard International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.


SoFi members with direct deposit activity can earn 4.60% annual percentage yield (APY) on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Direct Deposit means a recurring deposit of regular income to an account holder’s SoFi Checking or Savings account, including payroll, pension, or government benefit payments (e.g., Social Security), made by the account holder’s employer, payroll or benefits provider or government agency (“Direct Deposit”) via the Automated Clearing House (“ACH”) Network during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Deposits that are not from an employer or government agency, including but not limited to check deposits, peer-to-peer transfers (e.g., transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc.), merchant transactions (e.g., transactions from PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.), and bank ACH funds transfers and wire transfers from external accounts, or are non-recurring in nature (e.g., IRS tax refunds), do not constitute Direct Deposit activity. There is no minimum Direct Deposit amount required to qualify for the stated interest rate.

As an alternative to direct deposit, SoFi members with Qualifying Deposits can earn 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances. Qualifying Deposits means one or more deposits that, in the aggregate, are equal to or greater than $5,000 to an account holder’s SoFi Checking and Savings account (“Qualifying Deposits”) during a 30-day Evaluation Period (as defined below). Qualifying Deposits only include those deposits from the following eligible sources: (i) ACH transfers, (ii) inbound wire transfers, (iii) peer-to-peer transfers (i.e., external transfers from PayPal, Venmo, etc. and internal peer-to-peer transfers from a SoFi account belonging to another account holder), (iv) check deposits, (v) instant funding to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, (vi) push payments to your SoFi Bank Debit Card, and (vii) cash deposits. Qualifying Deposits do not include: (i) transfers between an account holder’s Checking account, Savings account, and/or Vaults; (ii) interest payments; (iii) bonuses issued by SoFi Bank or its affiliates; or (iv) credits, reversals, and refunds from SoFi Bank, N.A. (“SoFi Bank”) or from a merchant.

SoFi Bank shall, in its sole discretion, assess each account holder’s Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits throughout each 30-Day Evaluation Period to determine the applicability of rates and may request additional documentation for verification of eligibility. The 30-Day Evaluation Period refers to the “Start Date” and “End Date” set forth on the APY Details page of your account, which comprises a period of 30 calendar days (the “30-Day Evaluation Period”). You can access the APY Details page at any time by logging into your SoFi account on the SoFi mobile app or SoFi website and selecting either (i) Banking > Savings > Current APY or (ii) Banking > Checking > Current APY. Upon receiving a Direct Deposit or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits to your account, you will begin earning 4.60% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% on checking balances on or before the following calendar day. You will continue to earn these APYs for (i) the remainder of the current 30-Day Evaluation Period and through the end of the subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period and (ii) any following 30-day Evaluation Periods during which SoFi Bank determines you to have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits without interruption.

SoFi Bank reserves the right to grant a grace period to account holders following a change in Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits activity before adjusting rates. If SoFi Bank grants you a grace period, the dates for such grace period will be reflected on the APY Details page of your account. If SoFi Bank determines that you did not have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits during the current 30-day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, then you will begin earning the rates earned by account holders without either Direct Deposit or Qualifying Deposits until you have Direct Deposit activity or $5,000 in Qualifying Deposits in a subsequent 30-Day Evaluation Period. For the avoidance of doubt, an account holder with both Direct Deposit activity and Qualifying Deposits will earn the rates earned by account holders with Direct Deposit.

Members without either Direct Deposit activity or Qualifying Deposits, as determined by SoFi Bank, during a 30-Day Evaluation Period and, if applicable, the grace period, will earn 1.20% APY on savings balances (including Vaults) and 0.50% APY on checking balances.

Interest rates are variable and subject to change at any time. These rates are current as of 10/24/2023. There is no minimum balance requirement. Additional information can be found at https://www.sofi.com/legal/banking-rate-sheet.


Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.

Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.

SOBK0523029U

All your finances.
All in one app.

SoFi QR code, Download now, scan this with your phone’s camera

All your finances.
All in one app.

App Store rating

SoFi iOS App, Download on the App Store
SoFi Android App, Get it on Google Play

TLS 1.2 Encrypted
Equal Housing Lender