How I Saved $1,000 on Gas Fill-Ups in 1 Year
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You probably already have coupon codes, cash back sites and other offers to save money on most purchases. Along those lines, there is no reason you should ever pay asking price for gas.
Multiple national oil companies and grocery store chains offer loyalty programs that allow you to drop the price per gallon on your next fill-up. These gas savings add up over the course of the year in a very real way. In around the last 12 months, I’ve saved more than $1,000 when filling our household’s two cars.
For all of the gas programs outlined below, the savings principles are pretty similar, but there are a few things to plan out ahead of time.
Maximum Gallons Allowed: The different gas savings programs cap your discounted gas at a certain number of gallons per fill-up. Kroger, for example, allows 35 gallons of discounted gas per fill-up while Fuel Rewards only allows 20 gallons. Once you use your savings for each program to lower the price at the pump, they are expended — whether you get 1 gallon of gas or the maximum allowed.
This means to maximize your savings, you want to get as close to the maximum number of gallons allowed per fill-up as possible. For me, this means my wife and I head to the station together and do a bit of a maneuver to get both cars filled up without putting the pump back in its holder. For many others, it means bringing a few empty gas cans per fill-up to catch the remainder of the discounted gas after the vehicle is full.
Maximum Discount: Depending your state and the program you are using, the discount on gas may be capped or uncapped. Kroger, for example, allows a maximum discount of $1 off/gallon with the exception of a location in Tennessee and another in Richmond, Virginia. Fuel Rewards, on the other hand, can bring your cost of gas to free, down to 1.9 cents/gallon (like where I live in Georgia) or have a maximum of $1 off/gallon, depending on your home state.
Expiration Dates: One way these companies can offer such lucrative discounts is to count on breakage. Most of these programs have pretty short expiration periods of one to three months in which you need to use your fuel savings. If you forget to fill-up before your points and savings expire, there’s nothing you can do to get them back.
Fuel Savings Programs
Exxon Mobil Rewards+: Earn 3 points per gallon of gas pumped and 2 points for every $1 spent in the convenience store. Each point is worth 1 cent in discounted gas or convenience store items, and you need at least 100 points to redeem $1 in savings. The savings here are not per gallon, but a flat dollar amount. This is probably the least lucrative of the programs and it is tough to find much value. The program does have regular signup bonuses for new customers, so be sure to check its latest offers if you don’t yet have an account.
Fuel Rewards: The third-party loyalty program for Shell has been the most lucrative for me in saving at the pump. There are a variety of avenues to earn Fuel Rewards, which are earned in a cents per gallon off manner. You can link your credit or debit card to the program and then shop at participating merchants to earn savings. Fuel Rewards also has an online shopping portal that rewards you with a certain number of cents off per gallon for shopping at participating merchants.
Download the app or sign up to earn automatic Gold status, which gives you 5 cents off per gallon on every fill-up. Research all the different actions you can take and limited-time offers you can participate in to save on your next fill-up. Each fill-up is limited to 20 gallons and the maximum discount allowed varies by state. If you shop at Giant supermarkets, you can link your Giant and Fuel Rewards accounts and use your grocery store points through Fuel Rewards for discounts on your next fill-up.
Kroger Fuel Points: Every time you shop at Kroger, you’ll earn 1 fuel point per dollar spent. Every 10 points are worth 1 cent off per gallon of gas on your next fill-up. Kroger often makes it easy to earn fuel points by offering bonus earnings of 2x to 4x per dollar on gift cards and certain grocery items. During a 4x Fuel Points gift card special (or any special), you need to load the digital coupon on the Kroger app to your Kroger Plus Card before checkout.
The maximum discount per gallon of gas is $1 (with the exceptions as noted earlier) and you can purchase up to 35 gallons of gas for each fill-up. If you buy a $500 Disney gift card from Kroger during a 4x points event, you’ll earn 2,000 Fuel Points good for two fill-ups of $1 off per gallon on up to 35 gallons — or a maximum of $70 in savings making. That becomes a 14% discount off the $500 Disney gift card if you value gas savings like cash. Of course you can also pay for your purchase at the grocery store with a credit card that awards a bonus, such as the American Express® Gold Card that awards 4 points per dollar at US supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year; then 1x).
Marathon Make It Count: This program is new, and training sent out to gas stations must be nonexistent based on my experiences, but it offers periodic oversized savings at the pump. The program works by offering you “My CentsOff” points in exchange for buying specific merchandise in the Marathon convenience store.
You then redeem My CentsOff points for savings at the pump or Amazon gift cards.
From the above offers, I can buy two, 79 cent Tic Tac Gums and have enough points for 10 cents off/gallon of 20 gallons, or a maximum of $2 in savings. Sometimes the app offers double points and often there have been bonuses so large for merchandise that makes sense to buy it and recap the savings at the pump. Your challenge will be finding any Marathon gas station that even knows what you’re talking about when you mention the app.
Pay With GasBuddy: You may know GasBuddy.com as the site that shows you the price of gas in your area or for locations on a future road trip. GasBuddy has expanded and now offers an avenue to pay for fuel at the pump and earn rewards. Pay With GasBuddy can be used for instant savings at the pump or you can choose to earn Shop Your Way points, which can be redeemed for merchandise online and in-store from Sears, Kmart or Land’s End. Earn $0.30 per gallon in points for paid fill-ups for first 60 days after pairing your account with Shop Your Way, and $0.15 per gallon in points for every paid fill-up thereafter.
When you sign up for Pay With GasBuddy, you’ll link your checking account to the service and receive a physical card that looks like a credit card. Use the card to pay at the pump and you’ll earn a set number of Shop Your Way points per gallon of gas you buy. What’s great about Pay With GasBuddy is the ability to stack your Shop Your Way earnings with any of the discounts you receive from other savings programs. Pay With GasBuddy doesn’t care how much the fuel costs, only how many gallons of gas you pump. If you use Fuel Rewards to only pay 1.9 cents/gallon for gas, you’ll still earn 15 Shop Your Way points per gallon, making you a profit of 13.1 cents/gallon of gas you pump.
TruNow: The app offers at least 1% cash back on all your gas receipts from any station. TruNow partnered stations offer 2% cash back on all gas receipts and allow you the ability to redeem your rewards in the station.
TruNow partner stations are identified on the map with a blue circle around it. To earn savings, all you have to do is take a picture of your gas receipt with the app and within one to two days the cash back will be added to your account.
This is where things get really good. You can use Fuel Rewards, Pay With GasBuddy and TruNow all on the same gas fill-up for a triple stack of savings. Here is a breakdown of how it would work:
- If you have $1 in Fuel Rewards, you can lower the price on the pump at a participating Shell station from say $2.50 per gallon to $1.50 per gallon.
- Use your new Pay With GasBuddy card to earn 30 Shop Your Way points per gallon pumped (price of the gas doesn’t matter).
- Scan your receipt from the pump into TruNow and earn an additional 1–2% cash back.
If you fill-up the maximum of 20 gallons, you’ll save $20 on gas, earn $6 in Shop Your Way points and get 3 cents into your TruNow account for a total fill-up cost of $23.97 instead of the usual $50 that most everyone else around you is usually paying.
Of course, you’ll also want to pay for your gas with a credit card that awards a bonus at the gas station for even more savings or earnings. One great option is the Citi Premier Card that awards 3x on gas, resulting in 5.1 cents in points earned per dollar spent at the pump at current valuations.
Almost every grocery store chain has its own version of fuel savings, so make sure you’re at least participating in your area’s program. I’ve found with a bit of planning, and once I got a routine down, saving at the pump is one of the easiest loyalty escapades I participate in on a monthly basis. If you see a fellow gas station patron with multiple gas cans sitting on the ground, you now know they don’t necessarily have a lot of grass to cut or generators to run. They may just be trying to maximize their discount at the pump.
Featured image by Design Pics/Don Tanasiuk / Getty Images
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