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DRIVING

How to save money on fuel costs in Austria

With reports that the price of fuel is reaching record highs, many motorists in Austria will be wondering how to cut down on costs - here’s how.

How to save money on fuel costs in Austria
Petrol and diesel prices in Austria have hit record highs. Photo: Engin Akyurt via Pexels.

The average price of diesel in Austria hit an all time high of €1.477 per litre this week, according to the Austrian Automobile, Motorcycle and Touring Club (ÖAMTC).

The average cost of petrol (known as Super in Austria) also hit €1.477 a litre with prices expected to rise even further in the coming months due to a planned tax on carbon dioxide emissions. 

From July 2022, 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 Quick on Hardtmuthgasse and 123 Tanken on Rotensterngasse where petrol was priced at €1.424 per litre. Turmöl Quick also had the cheapest diesel at €1.399.

In Graz in Styria, three stations were listed as selling petrol at €1.449 per litre (the cheapest price in the city) – M3 on Karlauerstrasse, Rumpold on Kasernstraße and Diskont Tankstelle on Karlauer Gürtel. The cheapest diesel was found at Spritkönig on Triester Strasse at €1.429.

And in Innsbruck in Tyrol, Disk on Anton-Rauch-Straße had the cheapest petrol price at €1.529. Diesel was slightly cheaper at the same place for €1.509, but both prices are above the current national average.

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For members

FAMILIES

EXPLAINED: What you need to know about parental leave in Austria

Mutterschutz, Papamonat, Karenz, and Familienbeihilfe: here's your guide to the main concepts and schemes for parental leave in Austria

EXPLAINED: What you need to know about parental leave in Austria

When it comes to parental leave, Austria has one of the most extensive systems in the European Union and the world.

This is mainly because, when you consider all the combined benefits, parents can have paid leave for years – even if not on their full salary or working part-time. The system is also very flexible, with different options that parents can choose.  

There are a few essential words and schemes that people looking to take parental leave in Austria should know. The Local talked with Severina Ditzov, legal advisor and co-founder of Austria for Beginners, to understand how parental leave and family benefits work in Austria. 

Mutterschutz

In Austria, there is a period of Mutterschutz, or “maternity protection”, that starts eight weeks before the baby’s due date and continues for eight to 12 weeks after birth. The mothers are not supposed to work during this time, and companies need to follow this period strictly. 

READ MORE: The smartphone apps that make living in Austria easier

During Mutterschutz, mothers receive an allowance known as Wochengeld, which consists of 80 percent of their previous salary. The process for the leave and the benefit is made by the company directly with the government, and the idea is to protect the pregnant woman.

When the child is born, fathers can take up to one month of unpaid leave, known as Papamonat (Daddy month). “This can be taken within the first three months of the birth of the child”, Ditzov explains. 

The “daddy month” is considered unpaid leave, but fathers can ask for a up to € 700 payment (equivalent of €22 a day) compensation from the state. Certain companies will offer new dads a couple of days off paid after the birth but this depends on the company and sector agreements in place.

Karenz

After the end of Mutterschutz, parents can ask to go on a Karenz, or parental leave period – the release from work in return for a suspension of wages. 

Austria has a quite flexible scheme, and parents can switch twice between who takes the benefit. They can stay on Karenz for a total of two years, though the minimum period for parental leave is two months. There’s also a protection against employment termination that ends four weeks after the end of the parental leave.

During parental leave, the families receive government payments, known as Kinderbetreuungsgeld, depending on the scheme they choose.

READ MORE: Six helpful tips to save money on food shopping in Austria

It is possible to obtain a lump payment every month or a percentage of average salaries, and the actual amount will be calculated based on how long the parental leave will last. Parents who take longer leaves will receive a lower monthly allowance. 

“The payment and the time on leave don’t need to match, so parents can choose to stay for two years on leave but only receive the payment for six months, for example,” says Ditzov.

Of course, that would mean the payments would be higher, even if for fewer months.

Persons who have not had gainful employment subject to compulsory insurance in Austria in the 182 calendar days preceding the child’s birth, which includes homemakers, and people who recently moved to Austria, will be entitled to the flat-rate childcare allowance.

“Even if you never worked in Austria before, as long as you follow certain requirements, mainly proving that your centre of living is in Austria, you are entitled to the flat-rate payment”, Ditzov says. 

Parents need to apply for childcare allowance, and the mother will need to show the Mutter Kind Pass, a document proving she has correctly carried out the mandatory examinations. 

Elternteilzeit

The parents who have worked with the same company for at least three years are entitled to request Elternteilzeit or “parents part-time”.

In that case, they can negotiate with employers to find a part-time working solution, usually working fewer hours every day or working fewer days a week.

However, not all companies can provide the scheme, as they need a minimum number of employers, and there are also requirements for employers.

Family benefits

Austria offers several benefits packages to families – some not conditioned to having worked in the country at all. 

For example, the Familienbeihilfe is paid monthly to every child resident in Austria until they turn 24 – with some exceptions. The amount depends on the child’s age but can reach € 165.10 a month for one child.

The only requirements are that the parents’ centre of life is in Austria and they live with the child. From 18 years of age, there are also requirements and conditions regarding education and schooling.

“Even if the child just moved into Austria, and even if they are not babies, they are entitled to that money as long as parents live here legally and are insured”, the advisor added. 

In addition, families get tax benefits for having children or in case of single parents, for example. Families with children between the ages of six and 15 also get the yearly Schulstartgeld every September, an automatic €100 payment before the beginning of the school year. 

Among the bonus possibilities is a € 1.000 partnership bonus that parents can request if they have received childcare allowance in approximately equal proportions (50:50 to 60:40) and for at least 124 days each. 

Austria has several online calculators to help families check their benefits depending on income or duration of parental leave.

Most of the benefits are either automatic or can be requested online with the insurance provider or FinanzOnline, and it’s worth checking the resources and making a plan based on what works best for your family.

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