By now, you’ve probably heard the drill about how you can save money on gas: don’t drive like a mad(wo)man, keep your tires inflated, purchase a fuel-efficient car, etc. However, that doesn’t address the fact that you must eventually shell out some actual cash to buy gas. Whether it’s for your lawnmower, snowblower or chainsaw, the bottom line is that gasoline powers many of the doo-dads that make your life easier (and more fun).
Gas is currently priced at $3.97/gallon where I live. Aside from stockpiling gas in my garage when it’s cheaper (not recommended, by the way), I’ve had to find some creative ways to limit the money I spend on gas. To this end, I was happy to discover that one of my local grocery stores, Copps, offers a loyalty card-based FuelPerks program to its shoppers. The FuelPerks program runs like this:
- Obtain a store loyalty card from a participating grocery store.
- Buy groceries and give your loyalty card to the cashier upon checkout.
- Every $50 in groceries saves you 5 cents on a gallon of gas (up to 20 gallons) through your store loyalty card at participating gas stations. Specific grocery items can earn you additional cents off per gallon.
- Total gas savings are shown on your receipt and online via your FuelPerks account.
- Slide your store loyalty card at the gas pump and watch your cost per gallon drop right before your eyes.
Depending on where you live, you may be able to earn and redeem FuelPerks at participating grocery stores and gas stations, respectively. In my neck of the woods, the Roundy’s chain of stores allows me to save money on gas at BP and Shell stations. However, grocery stores like BI-LO, Martin’s and Winn-Dixie also participate in the FuelPerks program.
A similar rewards program exists at the Save Mart, S-Mart and Lucky grocery stores under the name of the Fuel Rewards Network (FRN). Both the FuelPerks and FRN programs are run by Excentus Corporation which, in addition to working with grocery store chains, also includes retailers such as The Home Depot, Dell, Macy’s, Nike and Barnes & Noble. In time, Excentus hopes to also offer gas discounts to consumers who shop online at those aforementioned retailers.
What I love about my FuelPerks plan is that I can build up my gas savings quickly by shopping during Copp’s Double Daze (double coupon) days, when my grocery total before coupons is applied towards my gas discount. The gas discount stays on my loyalty card for quite some time too; gas “perks” expire at the end of the month following the month in which they were earned. In other words, you can keep your discount for almost two months. Furthermore, it’s great seeing the following at my online account after I fill up my tank:
REDEEMED TRANSACTION DETAILS
BP – British Petroleum
FUEL TYPE: Blue
GALLONS DISPENSED: 11.943
DISCOUNTED GALLONS: 11.943 (max)
RETAIL PRICE: $3.399
YOUR PRICE (DISCOUNTED): $2.949 FUEL
REWARDS USED: $0.45
What I don’t like about the FuelPerks plan is the fact that, after I fill up my tank with not even 12 gallons of gas priced at $2.949/gallon, the remaining gallons of my reduced price 20-gallon stash are gone. Initially, I assumed that I still had another 8 gallons left to redeem at under $3/gallon; however, when I stopped in a few days later to fill some empty gas containers, my savings were back down to $0.00/gallon. Also, because not every BP and Shell station participates in the FuelPerks program, I have to look up participating locations before I go to fill up my tank.
Overall, though, I’ve been quite impressed with FuelPerks and how much money I’ve been saving on gas because of it. If I had a large family to shop for, I would probably end up paying $0/gallon on my gas, barring any gas station surcharge for pumping the gas. However, FuelPerks has been only one way in which I’ve saved or made money on gas. Other methods include the following:
Signing up for the Discover Card 5% Cash Back Bonus
Twice a year, Discover offers its members the opportunity to earn up to 5% back on their fuel purchases of up to $1,500. These two times typically span from the start of January to the end of March and from the start of June to the end of September. That’s a grand total of $150 that I can earn and later redeem for gift cards or credit on my Discover credit card statement. The best part of this deal is that many of the offered gift cards cost up to 50% less than their stated value; for example, you can purchase a $25 Macy’s gift card for only $20 in Discover cash.
Buy ARCO gasoline
I don’t live in an area where ARCO gas stations operate, but I’ve heard about the brand through friends of mine who live in the ARCO location states of Arizona, California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. On average, you will pay 10 – 30 cents fewer for ARCO brand gas than Chevron, Shell, ExxonMobil or BP brand gas. How can ARCO price its gas so much lower than that of its competitors? Apparently, it does this by taking a no-frills approach to how it purchases and sells gas. ARCO also accepts no credit cards and charges a $0.35 fee for the use of bank debit cards. You can, however, obtain ARCO-specific pre-paid cards, which are called PumpPass and/or GasPRO Plus cards, and use them at no extra charge.
Find the best gas price online
Sites like the AAA fuel price finder and GasBuddy allow you to locate area gas stations that offer the lowest price on gas. If you’re traveling, using the smartphone Apps that these sites offer can help you figure out in which state/city you should next fill up your gas tank. Such preplanning of your gas purchases can really help you save money on gas.