Free Gas

September 2016 update: Recently SuperAmerica stopped doubling gas coupons on Tuesdays.  This new development will drastically reduce (almost in half) the amount of money I personally save by using this tactic.  However, the basics of the tactic are still sound, and I still believe it’s worth it.  Updates to this page will be in red.

For some background on the loss of Double Coupon Tuesday, check out my series of blog posts here.
Free Gas

TACTICAL OVERVIEW

The basic idea is simple:

  1. Sign up for gas station loyalty program
  2. Maximize accumulation of points
  3. Use points for maximum gas savings

This tactic is very dependent on which gas station chains are available in your area, what kind of loyalty programs they have, and what their coupon policies are. I’m presenting one example of how this tactic has worked for me in my situation. Depending on your geographic region you may have very different options, but you may be able to apply some of these principles to maximize the value of your gas savings.

TEST RESULTS

In my example, I only tracked my commute miles; I didn’t include personal miles or my wife’s miles. From January 31st, 2014 to December 31st, 2014 (11 months) I got $477.49 in free gas using these tactics. In the same time, I spent $4611.80. That means 10.35% of the gas I used for commuting last year was FREEFor 2016, through August I pumped $1140.21 in gas and got $234.90 in discounts, for a savings of 20.6%.

IS IT WORTH IT?

YES. While I understand that my commute is far from typical (89 miles one way, 5 days a week), I can safely say that this tactic is definitely worth it and I would recommend it to anyone. For that $477.49 in free gas, here’s what it cost me:
Time and effort: All it took was swiping 2 cards instead of one when paying at the pump, and going in to the station to pay with a coupon or buy a fuel card from time to time. Even if you only drive a few miles a day your small savings will add up and you’ll be creating value for virtually no effort.

TACTICAL DETAILS

Super America is a gas station chain with locations in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and South Dakota. The way to create value at these gas stations is very similar to you capture value with points and miles. There are two basic sets of tactics: one to get the loyalty points, and one to use them as efficiently as possible.

My SA Rewards loyalty program:
With this program (free to sign up) you get a membership card which you swipe to earn points every time you make a purchase at SA. The card has a bar code which you use to access your account at the in-store kiosks. At these kiosks you can check your balances and redeem points for fuel coupons and other rewards.

Getting the points:
There are three ways to earn My SA Rewards points. The first two involve no extra effort or planning on your part; all you have to do is swipe the membership card before your payment method when paying at the pump, or hand the cashier the membership card with your form of payment when paying inside. This will earn you 10pts/gal of fuel and 20pts/dollar spent on in-store purchases. The third and best way to earn points takes about 30 seconds of extra effort every so often, but is well worth it. When you buy gift cards and fuel cards, you earn 10pts/dollar loaded onto the cards. Plus, you still earn points when you make purchases with the reloadable cards . . . it’s a bona fide double dip! Additionally, if you’re employing the credit card tactics as well, you’re getting points on those spends, for the coveted triple dip!
SuperAmerica will now double points earned on fuel purchased on Tuesdays.

Redeeming the points:
All the points accumulation in the world doesn’t mean anything unless you’re maximizing the value of those points. At SA this is a no-brainer: every Tuesday they will double all fuel coupons. The highest fuel discount available on a coupon at the redemption kiosk is $0.50/gal, meaning on Tuesdays this coupon is worth $1.00/gal up to 25 gallonsRead the update notice at the top of this page.  If you can fill up 25 gallons with a big enough tank, multiple cars present, or by adding a spare gas can, you are getting $25 $12.50 in free gas!

Other savings:
On top of earning points and redeeming for the big coupon, you also get smaller savings along the way. Just by swiping the membership card you get an additional $0.3-0.10/gal savings (depends on the individual station). By using a fuel card (different from the regular gift card in that it can only be used for fuel) you get an additional $0.03-0.07/gal savings (increases with higher fuel grades). While these small bits of value don’t seem like much, they are no extra effort to get, and they can add up. (I saved $47.42 in 2014 just by swiping the rewards card every time I got fuel, and a similar amount for using the fuel card instead of paying directly with credit card).

Additional info and tips:

  • Some privately owned SA stations may have different coupon policies.
  • Non-Minnesota SA stations have different coupon policies.
  • The fuel card discount only works if your whole purchase is fuel, so make sure the cashier rings up a separate purchase for any in-store items you are buying (use the regular gift card for these).
  • SA stations take all competitors’ coupons and will also double these on Tuesdays.
  • Large gift/fuel card purchases may cause your earned points to temporarily suspend. Periodically check your points balance your points online and call customer service if this is happening.

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