Are Fuel Rewards Saving a Good Deal?

by Andy Hough on August 27, 2014

There are a lot of different fuel rewards programs that can help you save money on gas. These programs are not always a good deal though. It doesn’t make sense to spend dollars more on groceries to save pennies on gas.  Many people do not act rationally when it comes to saving money on gas. For some reason lots of people are more interested in saving money on gas than they are on saving money on other stuff. You need to do the math to determine whether the a fuel reward program is good for your particular situation.  For example, I have a small car with a small gas tank so it only takes about ten gallons to fill my tank which means I don’t get to take full advantage of fuel reward savings.  If I get a reward for ten cents off a gallon then I’m only saving a dollar on that fill up. If I’m only buying things I would buy anyway then this is an okay deal, but it isn’t anything to get excited about and it definitely isn’t enough savings to buy something I don’t need just for the fuel reward.

A grocery chain near me recently had a deal where you received twenty cents off a gallon when you bought a $100 gift card to selected merchants.  That would be a $2 savings for me. The max savings would be $4 since the discount is good for a maximum of twenty gallons. This might seem like a good deal on the surface since you’re paying regular price for the gift cards.  Being a tight fisted miser though, I don’t pay full price for gift cards. Taking a look at GiftCardGranny.com I see that $100 Home Depot gift cards are on sale for as little as $89 , a $100 Sears gift cards can be bought for $92 , and a $100 Olive Garden can be bought for as little as $90.  Depending on where the card is being sold, you can also go through an online cash back portal such as Mr. Rebates, Ebates, or Top Cashback for even more savings. Buying the cards at the grocery store for the fuel rewards would cost you money. A possible exception would be if you had a credit card that paid 5% back on groceries, that is why you have to do the math for your particular situation.

These fuel rewards are also usually only good at certain gas stations. If you do not have one of these gas stations close to you then the fuel rewards become less of a good deal. The IRS estimates the cost of operating a car at 56 cents per mile, at that rate it doesn’t take much extra driving to use up $2 of fuel reward savings.

Another great way that I currently save on gas is with my Chase Freedom card  (referral link) which is offering 5% back on gas purchases this quarter.  All of that being said, I do use fuel reward savings programs. I just make sure that I don’t spend extra or go out of my way to do so.

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