"Gas money" in 2024
June 9, 2024 4:08 PM   Subscribe

How many cents per mile should I ask my friend for, after a carpool trip using my car?

My friend and I went on a weekend trip, using my (pretty typical) car for transporting both of us. He asked me to ask him for half the costs of transportation, so I need to figure out the "costs of transportation" using whatever per-mile formula people generally use in this situation nowadays.

Specifically: I know the number of miles driven. How many cents per mile should I ask him to pay for his share, in order to cover gas/depreciation?

NB: if you mention some number of cents per mile, please make clear whether this is the number I should ask my friend for, or I need to ask my friend for half of this number.

posted by splitpeasoup to Human Relations (21 answers total)
I would calculate this by how many times I refueled the car. Personally, I would not ask my friend to cover vehicle wear & tear costs.

So, if I used half a tank of gas for the trip, I would ask my friend to cover the cost of about 1/4 tank of gas.
posted by samthemander at 4:12 PM on June 9 [19 favorites]

Yes, half the cost of fuel you incurred.
posted by koahiatamadl at 4:22 PM on June 9 [4 favorites]

I think half the cost of the total gas used is reasonable, and that's what I would do.

However, if you wanted to cover all costs (including wear and tear/depreciation, insurance, etc., the standard IRS rate is 67 cents per mile, so something like 30 cents a mile would be a reasonable charge to cover all costs.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 4:24 PM on June 9 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: I have no idea how much gas was used for the trip. I only know the number of miles driven.
posted by splitpeasoup at 5:04 PM on June 9

Let's say you drive 200 miles. If your car averages 40 miles per gallon, you can divide 200 by 40 to find that used 5 gallons of gas. If gas costs $3 a gallon, that's $15. Half of that is $7.50.

So miles divided by gas milage. Then multiply that by the cost of one gallon. Then split in half
posted by advicepig at 5:04 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Hmm, for two people in a 31 mpg vehicle at $5/gal gas, that works out to about 8 cents per mile each. Is that really what most people do?

Reason I ask: back a couple decades ago my mountaineering friends used to do 10 cents a mile; I thought the norm would be more than that by now.
posted by splitpeasoup at 5:19 PM on June 9

As others said I would just split the gas. If the car gets 31mpg (does it give you an average mpg rate?) I would divide total distance over mpg. That's gallons. Then I'd x $5 per gallon. Then split that amount. Beyond that you're bean plating it.

I'd also 99.9% of the time never ask. But that's just my Midwestern sensibility. I'd also have bought lunch or dinner or something to offset, again... My sensibility.
posted by chasles at 5:32 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]

Best answer: There are federal mileage rates of 21 cents for medical and moving purposes and 14 cents per mile for charitable rates. I'd go with something in between these amounts since they are supposed to cover the variable expenses around vehicles and not the fixed expenses. Half of the average of those two would be just under 9 cents per mile (8.75 to be exact).

10 cents per mile back then was likely meant to cover the fixed and variable costs, and that rate today is the business rate of 67 cents per mile. I would never charge a friend 33.5 cents per mile, as that is like them paying me up to 18 bucks an hour to drive.
posted by soelo at 5:49 PM on June 9 [6 favorites]

When I did a road trip with friends last summer, we split the cost of gas, but the distance required multiple refulings. Unless you traveled more than a couple hundred miles, in my shoes I'd probably be inclined to just say to not worry about it and ask them to buy me a drink or something next time we hang out.
posted by Aleyn at 5:57 PM on June 9 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I would just split the cost of gas. I also wouldn't necessarily expect a friend to pay anything, but if they offered I'd accept.
posted by coffeecat at 6:10 PM on June 9

You need not be precise when splitting gas. The nearest $10 increment will do. “Oh we used half a tank and a tank in my car is $70, so if you kick in $20 we’re good”
posted by shock muppet at 6:40 PM on June 9 [5 favorites]

My road trips with friends have mostly been very casual about this. The people not doing the driving cover the gas, or maybe meals on the way. No one's ever asked or offered mileage that I can recall. I can imagine getting into that if the trip were going to put serious wear and tear on the car, like weeks of driving cross country, but not for a casual weekend road trip.
posted by Stacey at 6:55 PM on June 9 [2 favorites]

I’ve been part of hiking groups where the policy was the federal mileage rate divided by the number of people in the car. In practice, the driver would either wave off payment or refuse to take the whole stated rate (just give me five bucks). This was pre-widespread Venmo in the relevant age group, though.

For friends, we take turns filling up the tank if it’s that far, and otherwise rider buys driver a meal or similar.
posted by momus_window at 7:29 PM on June 9 [3 favorites]

Is that really what most people do?

Just for future reference, how most ppl I know handle this is fuel up the car at the start of the trip, and then fill it at the end (or along the way), and split the total (or often the passenger pays all the gas.)
posted by warriorqueen at 9:02 PM on June 9 [4 favorites]

Depending on distance and the then-going rate for petrol, I have shrugged and said "just gimme $10/$20/$50/rounded down easy note combination" because it is more important for me to be generous and casual about it. If other party is markedly worse off then me I'd probably tell them not to worry about it, unless it's important to their self-respect to contribute.

Disregard if you need the money.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:13 AM on June 10 [4 favorites]

I think in an organized group that does multiple outings (like I’m assuming for your old mountaineering group) it makes sense to have a policy and for the policy to cover more than just fuel. There’s usually one person (with the biggest or most reliable vehicle, or the one who loves driving) who ends up covering almost every trip. That adds up and you don’t want to take advantage.

A one-off trip with a friend or two is different and more casual.
posted by Kriesa at 5:27 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]

On the broader question of "Gas money in 2024", per the comment by i_am_joe's_spleen above, it's definitely very much a cultural thing. In my Desi UK circles, it would be weird to offer to pay for gas, and to ask for gas money would be considered rude. Generosity is considered most important, but the passenger most likely buys the driver a meal because reciprocation is assumed. Everyone is always doing favours for no money, which can be really annoying at times, but I digress.

In my whiter UK circles, calculating by mileage is uncommon unless you're doing a favour for an acquaintance/stranger. More like, the passenger would offer to chip in, and the driver would suggest "5/10/20 would be nice" depending on distance, or "buy me a coffee/meal". If the passenger doesn't offer, it's less common for the driver to ask directly, more likely they are quietly annoyed about it.

When my German partner goes on a trip with one or more friends, they request printed receipts when paying for gas and do the calculations together at the end. In my experience many Germans do the same, or have an app to split trip costs.
posted by guessthis at 6:14 AM on June 10 [7 favorites]

I often find myself being the one tagging along for the ride. When we stop for gas, I try to cover the cost, and if the driver declines, I usually try to pay for dinner or drinks instead. I'm also used to people saying, "Gas was about $xyz," and then splitting it. I don't think I've ever had anyone break it down by mileage. I wouldn't be offended if someone did, but it would be unusual enough that I'd probably remember.

Most of these rides were in and around New England.
posted by phil at 10:16 AM on June 10

I recently traveled for a conference, and the reimbursed mileage rate was 67 cents so I would charge the friend half of that.
posted by poppunkcat at 12:21 PM on June 10

This is hugely cultural.

my mountaineering friends used to do 10 cents a mile

I find that level of precision hugely off-putting. Hugely. It's like that friend who breaks out a calculator when you go out to dinner with them—I just don't go next time. In fact, I'll crack jokes about them behind their back.

Common practice in the culture I grew up in is to split gas, to a low level of precision. Personally, I find doing that leaves me few opportunities to be generous within the custom. As the car owner, what I do is this:
  • If it's under, say, a quarter tank, whatever, forget it, don't mention it. It only costs me twenty bones to take a round trip to and from the City, so if that's all we're doing don't worry about it.
  • If you're borrowing my car rather than sharing a ride, and you plan to put some miles on the thing, just bring it back full. Assuming it's less than a few days of borrowing the car.
  • If we're covering some distance, like serious distance, to the point where I have to refuel (>400 miles), then let's roughly split refueling costs. I won't mention the first tank if you don't. Eyeball estimate is fine.
  • Under no circumstances will I actually initiate the request for any of the above, or request money.
I operate under this heuristic because I'm someone who got their driver's license at the age of 38. I've been mooching rides for the majority of my lifetime, and the way I see it, as someone with the means to do so it now falls to me to cultivate a world that's even better for my passengers.
posted by majick at 7:24 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]

Agree, I've never heard of a friend asking for mileage reimbursement and I'd also find that off-putting. "Is that really what most people do?" - in my experience no, most people don't nickel and dime their friends. They just chip in for gas.
posted by Threeve at 11:47 PM on June 11

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