The following post is from Lindsay of Pandora’s Deals:
Many grocery stores offer gas rewards programs, allowing customers to earn a discount on filling their tanks for shopping in their stores.
If you’re not currently taking advantage of these programs, here are a few tricks and to crank up your savings at the pump:
Avoid Small Trips Several Times a Week
I’ll admit it: some weeks we fail to plan and fall into the habit of running to the store every couple days to get odds and ends. However, that’s not the best way to make the most of gas rewards programs since most stores require that you spend a certain amount before you earn any gas savings.
Take the time each week to make your grocery list and get your weekly shopping done in one trip.
Example: At Weis, one of my local stores, you have to spend $50 to earn a $0.10 per gallon savings. If you spend $40, no gas rewards. Zip. So going to Weis every other day and spending $10 a shot is not going to earn you any gas rewards. You need to do one trip and spend $50 to earn anything.
Gas Rewards Are Calculated Before Coupons
The good news is gas rewards are calculated on your total before any coupons are applied. Let’s say your store rewards a discount of $0.10 per gallon every time you spend $50 in one trip. If you ring up a grocery bill of $50, then use $20 worth of coupons, you’ll only pay $30 and still get yourself a discount of $0.10 per gallon. Sweet!
The lesson here: Trips where you buy $50 worth of groceries are what you’re looking for. You don’t have to actually spend $50 (or whatever the threshold is at your store).
It’s also worth noting that gas rewards are not calculated before any store discounts. If you buy something that’s on sale that week, only the sale price that you’re charged is going to count toward your gas rewards. Not the original/regular price.
Example: Emerald Nuts are on sale BOGO (that’s buy one get one free!), and they are regularly $5.99 each. If you buy 2 and pay $5.99 total, you’ll only earn rewards on $5.99, not the price before the BOGO store sale which would have totaled $11.98. Now, if you use a coupon for $1.50/2 (that’s $1.50 off 2), you’ll only pay $4.49 for both nuts, but you’ll earn gas rewards on $5.99. Get it?!
Be aware of the gas rewards program dates
Make sure you check to see when both the points accumulation period and the redemption period starts and ends, either with your local store or at the bottom of your receipts. Often there is a week between the two dates and during that time, you may not be able to accumulate any gas points.
In that case, you might choose to avoid a big shopping trip (if you can, of course) during the redemption week when no gas points are awarded.
Another reason to be aware of the program dates: Use those rewards before they expire! Make a note on your calendar on the first day of the redemption week and then wait until your tank is empty before filling up with your big discount.
Use coupons for free items to hit your mark
If you’re not going to hit the threshold needed to earn gas rewards, use any coupons you have for free items to put you up over the limit. Remember, gas rewards are calculated before coupons. If you still need to spend a little more to earn your rewards, throw a free item or two into your cart to hit your mark and grab those savings!
Keep your flyers and check your receipts
Sometimes stores offer deals to let you earn additional gas points. One of my local stores, Giant, does this a lot: “Buy 4 participating items, get 200 gas points!” Other stores will offer gas rewards for filling a new prescription in their pharmacy. Sometimes there’s a glitch of some sort and your gas points aren’t awarded.
Check your receipts and hang onto your store flyer until that sale week is over so that if there’s a problem you can easily point it out to customer service. Don’t miss out on those gas rewards you’ve earned!
Do you participate in your store’s gas rewards program?
Lindsay is the blogger behind Pandora’s Deals, a couponing and savings blog. She lives in Central Pennsylvania where she stays busy deal hunting, clipping coupons, organizing her stockpile, and enjoying being a wife and a stay-at-home mom to her two fabulous kids.