There may be nothing more exciting than saving money (at least for us money geeks), but saving money on gas takes the experience to a new level. So called fuel rewards programs are gaining in popularity and are now available nationwide in one form or another. One of our big grocery store chains here in Florida is Winn-Dixie. I joined their 'Fuel Perks' program a couple of years ago. The program rewards you with a nickel off per gallon for each $50 in groceries that you buy (at participating Shell gas stations) . So, if you go in and buy $100 in groceries, you earn 10 cents off per gallon the next time you buy gas. This is nice, and I have no complaints, but it is minor league ball compared to what I did this past week.
This Guy Gets His Gas For Less Than 2 Cents Per Gallon
Turbo charging my gas discount
I learned that I could get even more points (which equate to gas discounts) by getting the free Shell Fuel Rewards Network card and linking it with my Winn-Dixie shopping discount card. There was even a way to link my credit cards and earn even more points (Note: this is not a credit card, and anyone can get it, regardless of credit). So, in a typical week instead of just having a 10 cents off per gallon benefit it is now more like 20 cents off per gallon. It was getting better, but this was still just small ball compared to what I did on Sunday.
After Swiping My Rewards Card, the price resets on the pump to just $2.23 per gallon (see picture below) a savings of $1.12 per gallon.
Taking my fuel discount to the stratosphere
At Winn-Dixie (and I am aware this is also the case at other grocers across the country), there are 'specials' that you can take advantage of which reward you for buying a particular item. For example, this week if you buy a promoted brand of paper towels you get a 10 cent bonus added to your fuel rewards. All of the fuel reward bonus deals appear on their own separate page of the weekly store circular (available at the entrance). These bonus deals are also noted on the shelves with a special blue tag.
I decided I would shop on Sunday with a focus on the fuel bonus items. Of course, I was not going to buy anything that we did not need just to get the bonus. I ended up spending $60 on groceries and earned $1.12 off per gallon! Now, we move on to my strategy that made my $1.12 off per gallon worth $22.40 in savings on gas.
Shell Fuel Rewards Program Rolling Out Nationwide
How to push your savings to the limit
The rewards card discount is good for up to 20 gallons of gas. If you only pump 12 gallons, your discount is used and you have to start all over earning points again. What my wife and I do is go to the gas station at the same time. We fill one car up and then pull up the second car (without turning off the pump) until we reach the 20 gallons. It is a bit of a Chinese fire drill, but since most cars only hold about 12 to 14 gallons, this gives you quite a bit more gas at the discounted price. Here is what is crazy - you can actually earn enough of these credits to get almost completely free gas! (you may owe the minimum of 2 to 10 cents per gallon, based on your location). There is no limit on the rewards you use to offset your cost per gallon. If your rewards are greater than the cost per gallon they are saved for your next visit to the gas station.
Taking full advantage of fuel reward programs
In the case of the Shell's Fuel Reward's Network, there are quite a few other ways I could boost my rewards that I have not had time to pursue yet. For example, I could link more credit cards to my account, I could shop through their online portal, and even make purchases at other participating merchants. The shopping portal offers in some cases multiple gas bonuses per dollar spent. For example, Holiday Inn doubles your rewards point for money spent with them and Pro Flowers gives you five times the rewards per dollar spent! Additionally, there are some really nice discounts and specials on top of the fuel rewards as well.
Get free gas for referring friends
There is even a referral program that gives you 25 cents off per gallon for each new person that you refer to the network (I am using the referral link above in this article myself). Imagine how many friends you have that might just want to save some gas and you get a bonus for each one that enrolls. You get 25 cents off per gallon, just for joining (and so do your friends that sign up).
The Shell program may or may not work for you based on your location and participating merchants, but it seems clear that these kinds of programs are here to stay. If you are using a fuel rewards program, please use the comments section below so we can crowdsource a list of nationwide options for our readers.
Helping you make the most of God’s money!