3 Ways to Improve the Quality — and Cost — of Your Commute

The average American spends thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours getting to work each year. Here’s what you can do to improve your commute.

The average person spends $12 and 45 minutes a day commuting to work in the U.S.

That’s about $2,600 and 200 hours a year, according to a commuter survey published by Citi this week.

When comparing major U.S. cities, commuting is most expensive in Los Angeles (with a daily round trip cost of $16) and least expensive in Chicago and San Francisco ($11 each).

Commutes are most time-consuming in New York (average commute time of 73 minutes) and least time-consuming in Miami (49 minutes). (Check out “30 Cities With the Longest Workweeks” to learn more about New York commuters.)

Wherever you live, the quality of your commute probably could be improved with a few small changes.

Make the most of your commute time

Among full-time workers, 76 percent use their commute time to relax, and 24 percent use it to be more productive, such as by conducting conference calls and emailing. (Of course, we don’t recommend the latter if you are actually behind the wheel on your commute.)

Most commuters — 70 percent — don’t take advantage of technology to enhance their commutes, according to the study. But those who do use navigation apps (7 percent), social media (6 percent) or a cellphone, tablet or computer (5 percent).

Among the 88 percent of people seeking to make their commutes more pleasant, the following methods are most popular:

  • Turning on favorite music (64 percent)
  • Consuming favorite drink or snack (40 percent)
  • Taking a more scenic route (33 percent)
  • Traveling with friends (30 percent)

Look into bike shares

Most commuters surveyed primarily use their own car (77 percent). Taking the bus (21 percent), subway (9 percent) and train (8 percent) follow as preferred options.

But almost 50 percent of survey respondents who don’t currently commute by bike would use a bike share if it were available.

Look into an appropriate rewards card

The study that Citi commissioned found that 79 percent of commuters said they spend most of their commuting money on gas. If gas costs comprise a significant portion of your overall budget, research credit cards that reward gas purchases.

Not surprisingly, Citi suggests its ThankYou Premier card. However, we suggest first consulting our Solutions Center, which can help you find the perfect credit card.

Stacy Johnson

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