The holiday season is typically a period for gathering and celebrating, but two factors that countless individuals must deal with during this time are: extended journeys to reunite with family and friends and the expense of refueling that comes with holiday travel.
To help you navigate the holidays without significantly impacting your finances, utilize this TPG editor-selected manual to help you economize at the pump each time you stop to refill your tank.
Utilize Fuel Rewards on your upcoming holiday road trip
As reported by AAA, the present nationwide mean for regular gasoline is $3.33 — which can accumulate particularly if you’re traveling hundreds of miles to meet loved ones. Prices may be even higher based on your location. For instance, in California, the average cost of a gallon of gas currently exceeds $5.
Fortunately, recent years have seen a steady rise in gas station rewards and third-party loyalty programs intended to save you money on gas. This means there are more opportunities than ever to evade paying the full price. It’s feasible to utilize one or multiple programs to achieve substantial savings on your next Christmas road trip — and this is before considering any rewards you accrue with your credit card.
Fuel Rewards, a third-party loyalty program specially designed for Shell gas stations, has been a remarkably profitable method to economize on gas. Once you familiarize yourself with the program and adjust a few shopping habits, it’s not overly challenging to amass adequate rewards (earned in cents off per gallon) to make your next trip to the pump more economical.
Fuel Rewards has numerous national partners where you can employ a linked credit card to shop and earn cents off per gallon on your next refill.
With those savings and Gold or Platinum status, your subsequent refill will be at least 30 cents off per gallon. All Fuel Rewards refills are limited to 20 gallons. Once you commence pumping, your savings are applied, whether you pump one gallon or 20.
Related: Top recommendations for how to economize on gas
Circle K Easy Pay Debit
Another approach to conserve at Shell is with Circle K Easy Pay Debit. This program enables you to save 30 cents per gallon for the initial 100 gallons or 60 days, contingent on your location; thereafter, you’ll save 10 cents per gallon.
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Here’s how it works: You receive a physical Easy Pay card linked to your checking account. Then, you use that card to pay for your refills, with all savings automatically deducted. Cards are PIN-protected and become locked after three failed attempts at logging in. The only drawback is that you cannot earn credit card rewards this way.
Related: Best credit cards for gas
Pilot Flying J myRewards Plus
Pilot and Flying J have a cooperative loyalty program named myRewards Plus, which enables drivers to earn rewards on refills and other purchases. The program holds various promotions, depending on the month.
In one promotion, you could receive 5 cents off per gallon purchased when you make the payment
for fuel using the myRewards Plus application. Visit the site to view the latest offers.
This external application provides rewards for dining and purchasing groceries, along with discounts at the filling station. While you’re purchasing items for your Thanksgiving feast, you can also redeem offers within the application to save a specific amount of pennies per gallon.
Once you have claimed an offer, you must refuel within four hours at the designated station using a connected credit card. Any cash back earned from the refueling will then be deposited into your Upside account, which you can withdraw whenever you desire. I appreciate Upside because the fuel savings for refills are applicable for up to 50 gallons, and these savings can be utilized for more beneficial purposes during this festive season.
Related: Heading out? Here are the 4 top cards for refueling
Use GasBuddy to economize on your upcoming journey
The GasBuddy payment program is continually advancing and enhancing. Previously, it granted Shop Your Way points, but now it provides multiple tiers of cash savings per refueling. It introduced deals that can be redeemed at specific service stations just before refilling, as well as a “gas back” shopping hub within the application.
Similar to Circle K Easy Pay, the transaction is made using a physical card linked to your bank account, which GasBuddy sends to you via mail. You utilize it at the pump. The amount you pump, minus any savings from GasBuddy, will be debited from your bank account.
GasBuddy also provides a premium option, Pay with GasBuddy Premium, where you can make savings of up to 40 cents per gallon after enrolling. This service is priced at $9.99 per month and assures you of saving at least 20 cents per gallon (up to 50 gallons per month). Therefore, if your family predominantly engages in holiday road trips, this service could potentially result in substantial savings for you. It also offers additional benefits such as roadside support.
Redeem grocery store fuel points to economize on holiday groceries and fuel
An enrollment in Walmart+ costs $12.95 per month, although holders of The Platinum Card® from American Express receive a monthly fee reimbursement for the service as a privilege of having the card. (Terms apply. Cardholders are reimbursed with a statement credit after they settle the monthly fee for Walmart+ using their Platinum Card. The fee covers $12.95 plus any applicable local sales tax. Subject to automatic renewal).
Save up to 20 cents per gallon by refueling at Exxon-, Mobil-, Sam’s Club- or Murphy-branded gas stations. There are also various other grocery chains offering gasoline discounts for their members.
Kroger is a highly favored choice in the Southern region. Between holiday grocery shopping and leveraging 2 fuel points for every dollar spent on gift cards, earning the full $1-per-gallon savings allowed by the Fuel Points program is quite feasible. Third-party gift cards can also be purchased from the Kroger-specific gift card website. This platform regularly features gift cards for sale at a reduced price or with an accrual of 4 fuel points per dollar.
Related: Enjoy a 10-cent-per-gallon discount at Mobil and Exxon with Walmart+
Leveraging the finest credit cards for gasoline
Credit cards stand as one of the prime methods for economizing on fuel expenses. With a credit card, there’s no need to download an app or enroll in a membership just to save on fuel. Check out our guide on the best credit cards for gasoline to commence savings for your upcoming festive road trip. Noteworthy cards like the Citi Custom Cash® Card (see rates and fees) can garner up to 5% cash back on gas.
Some of the top travel cards also provide additional gasoline perks just in time for the holidays. Specific American Express cards are eligible for an extra 2 Membership Rewards® points per dollar spent on qualifying purchases at US Phillips 66®, 76® and Conoco® locations or through the Fuel Forward™ app. (Enrollment is limited. Offer expires 12/31/23). In addition, cards such as the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offer a respectable 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations while simultaneously delivering even more generous reward rates such as 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per calendar year, then 1% thereafter).
You can combine two or more programs for a single fill-up to amplify savings and obtain particularly affordable gas. Here are a few strategies:
- Fuel Rewards plus Pay with GasBuddy: These two programs work independently, enabling you to reduce the pump price with Fuel Rewards. Subsequently, when paying at a Shell station with your GasBuddy card, a lesser amount is deducted from your checking account than the amount you actually pump. If you accumulate adequate Fuel Rewards to essentially get a free fill-up, GasBuddy still grants you savings based on the pre-discounted price of the Shell gas. This means you can actually make a profit while refueling your tank with gasoline.
- Kroger plus Pay with GasBuddy: The same principle as mentioned above applies when securing a discount by filling up using Kroger Fuel Points and then paying with your GasBuddy card.
- Fuel Rewards plus Circle K Easy Pay: Like the aforementioned strategies, you can earn Fuel Rewards when using your Circle K card for payments.
- Combine with Amex Offers: At times, American Express offers promotions on gasoline purchases. For instance, we’ve observed Amex offering 400 bonus Membership Rewards points when spending $40 on gas.
The holiday season is typically a hectic period, particularly for those who need to travel to visit loved ones. Leveraging gas rewards programs and credit card offers can aid in saving money every time you refuel.
Most major gas station chains have their own loyalty programs, which usually feature limited-time savings or a sign-up bonus. Furthermore, several programs can be combined to compound your savings even further.
If you don’t utilize Pay with GasBuddy, ensure to use a credit card that provides excellent rewards at the pump to accumulate additional savings on your next refuel. Also, remember to check rotating categories for extra savings at the pump.