Here are the top 5 ways to save on gas this summer
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Road trips and outdoor adventures have been and continue to be a staple for my family throughout the pandemic. When driving thousands of miles, now in a diesel truck, my habits of never paying full price on gas continue to save me big.
Cutting down on my gas spending is even more important now with the recent rise in gas prices. The average price per gallon in the U.S. is now $2.89, though many states are already averaging well above $3.
Luckily, this doesn’t mean your upcoming road trips will need to break the bank. There’s been a quiet explosion of gas station rewards and third-party loyalty programs over the last few years designed to save you on gas. It’s possible to use one or multiple of these programs to save big on your next fill-up — and that’s before factoring in any rewards you earn with your gas credit card.
I’ll run through my five favorite programs and then cover a few stacking opportunities to use two or more of these programs on a fill-up. If you’re strategic, you might even be able to turn a profit on your next trip to the gas station.
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A third-party loyalty program specifically for Shell gas stations, Fuel Rewards has been my most lucrative way to save on gas. Once you get to know the program and tailor a few shopping patterns, it’s not too hard to build enough fuel rewards (earned in cents off per gallon) to make your next trip to the pump more affordable.
I’ve already crossed the $1,800 in total savings mark from the program starting in 2018:
Sign up for instant gold status, which gets you 5 cents off/gallon on your first fill-up. This stacks with any additional Fuel Rewards you earn — all the way up to making gas nearly free.
Fuel Rewards has dozens of national partners where you can use a linked credit card to shop and earn cents off per gallon on your next fill-up. There is also a dining rewards program, shopping portal and plenty of promo offers (like T-Mobile Tuesdays) to earn Fuel Rewards.
Shop through the online portal and earn 10 cents per gallon savings. Link your Dunkin’ Donuts rewards account and earn additional 10 cents per gallon savings. Eat at your favorite local restaurant in the dining rewards program and earn 10 cents per gallon.
With those savings, in addition to having Gold status, your next fill-up without even trying will be 35 cents off per gallon. All Fuel Rewards fill-ups are capped at 20 gallons and once you start pumping, your savings are used, whether you pump one gallon or 20.
Another way to save at Shell is with Circle K Easy Pay. This program allows you to save 30 cents per gallon for the first 100 gallons or 60 days, after which you’ll save 10 cents per gallon.
Here’s how it works: You get a physical Easy Pay card that’s linked to your checking account. You then use that card to pay for your fill-ups, with all savings automatically deducted. Cards are PIN protected and become locked after three failed PIN attempts. The only downside is that you can’t earn credit card rewards this way.
This third-party app hit the scene a couple of years ago and has expanded significantly. It now includes restaurants and grocery store rewards as well as saving at the pump. You can claim offers in the app to save a certain number of cents per gallon.
After you claim an offer, you have four hours to fill up at the specific station you selected, using a linked credit card. Cash back earned from the fill-up will then be placed in your Get Upside account, which you can cash out whenever you like. I like Get Upside because fill-ups with savings are good for up to 50 gallons. My wife and I both wait until our cars are empty and then fill up on the same pump simultaneously. (Remember not to put the handle back on the pump between cars or that will end your fill up and your savings).
The Pay with Gas Buddy program continues to evolve rapidly and get better. It used to offer Shop Your Way points, but now it offers several levels of cash savings per fill-up. It has recently introduced deals you can claim at specific gas stations right before you fill up, as well as a “gas back” shopping portal in the app.
Similar to Circle K Easy Pay, payment occurs with a physical card GasBuddy mails you that is connected to your checking account. You pay with it at the pump. The amount you pump, minus any Gas Buddy savings, is deducted from your checking account.
Pay with GasBuddy premium memberships allow you to save more per gallon and offer additional perks, like roadside assistance.
Grocery store fuel points
By now, I believe almost every nationwide grocery store has its own fuel points program or has partnered with an existing national gas station brand’s program to offer fuel savings for your grocery shopping.
I use Kroger here in the South and between regular family grocery shopping and taking advantage of 4X fuel points on gift cards, it’s pretty easy to max out the $1/gallon savings the program allows. You can even buy third-party gift cards from the Kroger gift card-specific website. It regularly has gift cards for sale at a discount or with 4X fuel points earnings.
You can stack two or more of the above programs on a single fill-up to compound savings and make gas particularly cheap. Here are a few of my strategies I’ll share:
Fuel Rewards + Pay with GasBuddy: The two programs operate independently of each other, allowing you to lower the price at the pump with Fuel Rewards. You’ll then have less cash than you pump deducted from your checking account when paying at a Shell station with your GasBuddy card. If you earn enough Fuel Rewards to make fill up basically free, GasBuddy still gives you the savings based on the pre-discounted price of the Shell gas — meaning you can make a profit filling up your tank with gas.
Kroger + Pay with GasBuddy: The same principle as above applies when filling up for a discount using Kroger Fuel Points and then paying with your Gas Buddy card.
Fuel Rewards + Circle K Easy Pay: Like the two strategies discussed above, you can earn Fuel Rewards when paying with your Circle K card.
Stacking with Amex Offers: From time to time, American Express offers promotions on gas stations. For instance, we’ve seen Amex offer 400 bonus Membership Rewards points when spending $40 on gas. These stack with gas station and third-party loyalty programs, though you must pay with the Amex card you linked the offer to. As such, you can’t stack Amex Offers with Pay with GasBuddy or Circle K Easy Pay.
Related: Best credit cards for gas purchases
There are other programs to use specific to every nationwide gas station chain. They each typically have limited-time savings or a sign-up bonus. In addition to the above programs, there is basically no reason to pay full price for gas no matter where you are. If not using Pay with GasBuddy, make sure to use a credit card that earns great rewards at the pump and you’ll compound your savings even more.
Benji Stawski contributed to this story.
Featured photo by Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock
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