What’s a family to do? How to save money at the pump
Finding the best gas prices in town isn’t always easy. Also, you may want to look for the higher quality gas. Because it won’t save you any money if you damage your engine with poor quality gas.
Here are some points to keep in mind:
Top Tier gas is sold at Shell, Mobile, Chevron, Costco and ARCO stations. According to AutoChimps.com, "Top Tier stations, though, such as Shell, Mobil, Chevron, Costco, and Sinclair, use additives in their unique mix. These include detergents, friction reducers, and corrosion inhibitors, which may extend engine life.”
Consumer Reports says that Top Tier gasoline is worth the extra price, "Not all gasoline is created equal. There is plain old regular, and then there is regular gasoline that meets a higher standard, known as “Top Tier.” The difference between the two is significant, based on an extensive study conducted by AAA in 2016.”
Cars.com isn’t really convinced. Here are some tips from them to help stretch your travel dollars: https://www.cars.com/articles/10-tips-gas-stations-dont-want-you-to-know-1420663241443/
You may be wondering about Kroger gas - ie: Frys. Their gas is considered to be good quality, and it MIGHT be Top Tier. But then again, it might not. The reason is that Kroger sources their gas from different suppliers, which frequently include Shell, BP and Exxon, which are all certified to have Top Tier gas.
The good news is that often the companies offering Top Tier gas also have the best prices.
Price Per Gallon
Generally, but not always, Costco has the best prices in the quad-city area for gas. However, you have to be a Costco member to purchase it.
Not a member? Ask someone you know who is a member to buy you some Costco gift cards. They can also be used as payment.
Check your debit and credit cards. For example, if you have a Chase debit card, you can sign up to receive 5% cash back at Texaco or Chevron. Currently, the Texaco on Sheldon Street is charging $4.59/gal for regular. A 5% cash back offer will give you back about 23¢ per gallon, making the net price $4.36/gal. Now, Texaco has a $3.00 cash back maximum, so if you’re going to buy more than 13 gallons of gas, your cash back value will be limited.
Also, be sure to read the fine print. In the case of Texaco you can use the offer one time only, you have to use the associated debit card, the offer is only valid on purchases made at the pump, not on convenience purchases.
The options are endless. Do you have an Amazon Prime credit card? You get 2% back at gas stations. If you get the Citi Visa from Costco, you’ll get 4% cash back for the first $7000 per year and then 1% afterwards. Chevron has a credit card that will give you 3¢ back per gallon.
Do you shop at Maverik? With an Adventure Club account (free), you can save 2¢ per gallon any time. If you have a Nitro account, it’s 6¢ per gallon savings.
GasBuddy is essential to finding the best gas prices. It’s available as an app for your phone - IOS or Google, and they have a website. Basically, they crowd source prices - when getting gas somewhere, people will report what the price is. That way you can stay up to date on the latest changes. So, if you’re using GasBuddy, be sure to report what you paid when you go, and that will help everyone out.
Additionally, GasBuddy offers great information such as what to expect, why gas prices are changing, and more. The apps and website are free to use.
GasBuddy has a free card that links to your current checking account. If you sign up for their Premium card ($9.99/month), which is still a debit card, you can save more per gallon, plus get roadside assistance. According to their website, you’ll save at least 20¢ per gallon, up to 40¢. They say that it can be used at 95% of fuel stations nationwide, but, "All major fuel retailers accept the Pay with GasBuddy card with the exception of the following brands: Exxon Mobil, BJs, Costco, Sam's Club, H-E-B, Select Walmart stations, Select Arco Stations.” So, if the station you use works with the card, it might just pay for itself.
Fry’s Fuel Points
Writing about saving money at Fry’s could be a column in itself. But, basically, you can receive 1 point for every dollar you spend on eligible items. There’s a lot of fine print on this, which you can read by scrolling down to the bottom of the Fry’s fuel points page. But, once you have 100 points, you can get 10¢ off per gallon. If you have 200 points, it’s 20¢ off per gallon, and so forth. The points are redeemable in 100 point increments. This is available if you have a Fry’s loyalty program card.
You have one month to use the discount. So, suppose you have 120 feel points from February, you can use them through the end of March to claim 10¢ off per gallon. But you cannot add points from February to points you earn in March and combine them to get an even bigger discount. Each month is a separate earning period. Fry’s has an FAQ page that will answer most of your questions.
There are ways to get more points. If you use their free Kroger Rewards Debit Card (which just links to your current bank account) you will earn 50% more fuel points on your qualified purchases every day. It also gives you 2% discounts on their store brand products.
If you get their Fry’s credit card, you’ll get an additional 25¢ off per gallon every time you redeem at least 100 points.
Have you downloaded the Fry’s app to your phone? That’s at iOS or Google. Many times they’ll offer special coupons you can clip (which actually means they’re added to your Fry’s card, not cut out with scissors) that will give you extra fuel points. For example, they might offer double fuel points if you shop on Friday - Sunday. You just have to pay attention and clip the coupon either online or in your app.
Important!!! Don’t forget to clip the coupon, it will not be automatically applied just because you have a Fry’s card.
They give you four times the fuel points when you purchase eligible gift cards. Buy $100 worth, and turn that into 40¢ savings at the pump.
Safeway gives you rewards, but it’s not as easy to use as Fry’s.
Other Ways to Feel Less Pain at the Pump
- Of course, the most obvious is to drive less.
- Combine your trips, order online and don’t plan out of town travel for a while. Walk when possible.
- Map your stops to be as efficient as possible.
- Get a tune-up for your car. Make sure that your tires have the recommended pressure.
- Don’t drive with heavy cargo.
- Don’t idle, if possible.
- Accelerate and brake gently. Try to stick within the speed limit, and use your cruise control!
- Fill up on Mondays. GasBuddy has found that Mondays typically have the lowest average prices.
- Fill up when your car is between three-quarters and one-half full - ok, so this is the author’s personal preference because it reduces sticker shock. It’s a lot less painful to put $20 in your car than $80. But, everyone agrees that it’s a bad idea to run out of gas completely. It can potentially damage your fuel pump and cause other problems.
So, what are you favorite ways to save at the pump? Share them on our CopperState News FB page!