What Is The Best Way to Save $$$$ on Gas? It is Not What You Think!

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Best Return For Your Gas Purchases

Best Return For Gas Purchases

You may be thinking this is another tired article about what is the best card to use when you pay at the pump.  Not so fast – not here at Miles to Memories!  We are gonna dig deeper and find you the best return out there for your gas purchases.

Number Crunching

Gas/fuel costs are one of the larger expenses for most American families. I wanted to take some time to figure out what would give the best return on that spend. When I was done searching high and low I came up with three pretty good options.  The value will change slightly depending on how much you value each point type.

Best Return For Your Gas Purchases

Discounted Gift Cards On eBay

eBay often has discounted gift cards for sale for a wide variety of stores. Gas station gift cards from SVM are one of the mainstay offerings. SVM offers discounted gas station gift cards for BP, Speedway, Exxon, Marathon and a few others on a rotating basis.  These are usually offered at 92% or 93% of the card’s value.  They sell them in $50 and $100 denominations.

By purchasing a $100 gas gift card on eBay for $92 you are saving 8% but we can do better. eBay killed the ability to double dip last year, no longer allowing us to buy third party gift cards with discounted eBay gift cards.  With this change there is no longer a way to get extra points on discounted gift cards sold on eBay. Because of this change you need to make your eBay gift card purchases with a card that gives you a great return on non bonus spend.  The card that gives you the best return on your non bonus spend would be the Blue Business Plus card from American Express. The Blue Business Plus card earns 2X MR points for every dollar you spend.

I value MR points at 1.75% (I have recently increased my valuation of them). That gives you a return of 3.5% on every purchase made with the Blue Business Plus card.  If you add the 3.5% discount to the 8% discount you get a total return on your gas purchase of:

11.5%

Best Return For Your Gas Purchases

Grocery Store Spend

Buying gift cards at grocery stores is a great way to rack up a ton of points.  A lot of credit cards offer increased returns for grocery spend. The one that offers the best return on grocery store spend would be the American Express EveryDay Preferred (EDP).  Once you make 30 purchases in a billing cycle you get a 50% bonus on your Membership Rewards (MR) points earning. The EDP earns 3 MR points per dollar at grocery stores but once you make 30 purchases that increases to 4.5 MR points per dollar. Membership Rewards points have a value of 1.75 cents each which gives you a return of 7.88% on your gas card purchase at the grocery store.

It gets better though. Certain chains, like Kroger, offer fuel points on all purchases and they offer double fuel points on gift card purchases. Sometimes, like this weekend, they increase the fuel points offer from 2x earning to 4x earning on gift card purchases.  If you purchased a $100 gas gift card at 4x fuel points you would end up with 400 fuel points. That is enough for $0.40 cents off per gallon of fuel at the grocery store’s pumps.  If you assume a 15 gallon fill up that is a $6 savings or essentially another 6% off of your gift card purchase.

If you add in the 6% from the fuel points with the 7.88% return you get for buying a gas gift card with the EDP you come up with a total return of:

13.88%

Best Return For Your Gas Purchases

Staples With Ink Plus/Cash/Bold

Even though 5x earning at PPDG and CardCash is toast, earning 5x at office stores is still going strong!  Staples carries a few different brands of gas station gift cards on their shelves.  You can purchase $100 worth of gas station gift cards and earn 500 Ultimate Rewards (UR) Points.  I value UR points at 2 cents a piece which makes the 500 UR points worth $10.  That gives you a 10% return on your gas card purchase.

The savings don’t stop there though.  There is currently an offer with Uber that allows you to earn Uber credit when making a purchase at certain retailers.  You need to have a Visa card linked to your account and then make the purchase at the participating location with the same Visa card.  Staples is currently a store participating in the promotion and it is earning a 5% Uber credit in my area. The earning rate can change by location so be sure to check before heading out to the store. That gives me another 5% in return on my gas gift card purchase.

If you add up the 10% you earn purchasing the gift card with a Ink Plus/Cash/Bold card with the 5% in credit from Uber you get a return of:

15%

Conclusion

It looks like buying gift cards from Staples while the Uber local offer deal is ongoing brings the best return.  When the Uber local offer ends sourcing your gas gift cards from grocery stores becomes the best option.

FINAL TIP – There are a lot of gas stations out there that will give you the cash price if you use a gas gift card as well.  The cash price is usually 10 cents less per gallon saving you another 4% when the price per gallon is around $2.50.  Look for gas stations that list both prices on their sign.

 

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26 COMMENTS

    • Good point. My wife’s old Volvo had it set up that you could never turn off the lights. It burned through bulbs every 3-4 months too – a real PIA.

  1. By far S&S & Shell fuel rewards is the best way to save on gas. My last fill-up of 20 gallons of regular gas cost me $0.38 total or $0.019 cent per gallon. I saved over $51.00

    (99%)

    • Nice – my grocery fill ups are limited to a max of $1 off per fill up so I think it depends on where you live.

  2. I thought Uber Offers stopped applying to gift card purchases at Staples and Whole Foods. Or is that only for VGCs?

    • I think it depends on where you live. Shell is a max of 10 cents per gallon here but if you use it at Kroger the max is $1 per gallon on a fill up. Other places have no max.

      • Is ur grocery part of the Shell fuel network? Being able to now link Shell / S&S / Giant is a game changer for me.

        • I don’t think so – I think the only thing around me is restaurants and I would rather use an airline rewards program for that.

  3. My supermarket of choice for gas cards is Publix (I’m in FL) now that Winn-Dixie switched from Fuel Rewards to Plenti. Once or twice a month you can buy a $50 gas gift card for $40 with a $50 grocery purchase. I use a card that bonuses supermarkets of course, so 3-5pts per $. I do miss Fuel Rewards and paying almost nothing to fill up…

    • MMKate – Sorry for being late to the party.

      Great point about Publix. I take advantage of the $50 for $40 deal quite often. So, assuming I do nothing else, I get a 20% discount on gas for shopping at Publix (which I usually do anyway). Shell still has the Fuel Rewards program ($.05 off/gallon every day), and for T-Mobile customers, the “T-Mobile Tuesdays” app typically has one $.25 off/gal code at Shell each month. So, at least once a month, I can get $.30 off/gal (up to 20 gal…$6 off max) on top of the 20% savings through Publix. Maybe it’s not the best deal in history, but the Publix offer combined with Shell FR a quick and easy way to avoid paying retail.

      Of course, this is all sweetened when stacked with the most appropriate card for grocery store or gas spend at the time (i.e., Freedom 5x).

  4. Here’s what I do. Whenever my Freedom or Discover cards have gas as a 5x category I buy gift cards at my local convenience stores (Holiday and Super America in my city). The SA card gives me an additional discount of $.05/gallon and the Holiday card can be used in conjunction with the Cub Foods grocery store discount card (which can be up to $1.50/gallon!). The downside is that both of these chains are regional, so it doesn’t work for cross-country trips. But since I’m no longer commuting, this takes care of most of my local gas expenses for the year. Another upside to using gift cards – your precious credit cards never have to touch a gas pump card reader, which are increasingly likely to have been hacked.

  5. I like to keep it simple and go with either Costco or Sams gas stations which are the lowest price here. Savings is relative, and if you’re saving 14% on gas that is 10% more expensive then all things equal you’re not really saving. Costco gas + 4% or better (Costco card or any alternative) or Sams (use sams/walmart discounted GC). I don’t have time to do much dipping and ninja tricks so that’s what I do.

    • Might want to run those numbers on paper to check yourself. 10% off is more of a discount than gas that is 10% higher. The only stations here in Maryland that ever run 10% higher are those close to Interstate highways or the only station for miles. There are enough folks using gas price apps that the differences between stations have declined in size.

  6. The trick is to bring 2 cars at a Kroger gas station and park them on the same pump on each side. Fill 1 car, and then take the hose to the other car and fill the other one. (without stopping the pump, just stop the gas from the hose) That way you can máximize the the discount Up to $35 per fill ($1 of Up to 35 gallons). Bring a spouse, friend, etc.
    When they have the 4x promo, you can save $35 per $250 of gift card purchases plus the cc. points.

    • That is nice if you have a Kroger fuel station for you. The closest one to us is 15 minutes away so we just grab it when we drive by one :(. A good way to max it out for sure! I know some people fill up gas cans too.

  7. I’m going to leave 2 comments, on diferent points

    1) according to conventional wisdom, to save fuel you should buy a hybird or high mpg car instead of a gas guzzler.
    2) you should not drive like a maniac, keep you car below 80 miles, you car’s engine works extra hard for those higher speed, do not break too hard. you wanto to drive smoothly, I’m sure there are more

  8. well, for comments #2.
    I was talking to laptop travel in chicago. supermarket fuel reward is highly regional. Kroger has -1.00 up to 35gallon, S&S in my area has -1.50 up to 20 gallons.

    Now since Fuel Reward and S&S can link to each other, all you need a phone# is get the discount. Ppl buy and sell these. I for one, can you sell you some extra points if u r interested in some Shell gas.

    I know someone who can ms up to 200,000 points on a 4x Kroger promo. Unless you have an RV+Boat, you’ll have some extra points. Cheers!

  9. For non-calendar category grocery spend, it’s hard to beat the 6% Blue cash preferred. Safeway here allows 20 gallons at up to $1 off at their stations, 20 cents off at Sunoco and Exxon/Mobil. They give double points on G/C purchases. I keep looking for those cards at Safeway to double dip, but none so far
    The cash prices here are generally 5 cents or less, never seen one as high as 10 cents difference. Both grocery chains and gas stations are very regional.

    • BCP is great at 6% but most people would get more return out of 4.5 MR with the EDP. Also the EDP earns another 3 MR at the pump. I guess it depends on what you are looking for. For cashback BCP is king for sure.

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