MilesForTwo

Expenses Friday: Fuel

Every Friday, I will highlight one of our monthly expenses. I will then discuss trends, savings, and other tidbits of information about that specific expense.

This week’s expense that I want to highlight is: fuel/gas.

This is one of those expenses that can’t really be avoided. However, I’ll try and highlight some ways that we save at the pump.

Gas Gift Cards

You can buy discounted Gas Gift Cards on eBay. Usually they sell for $92 for $100. It doesn’t seem like much, but that’s 8% off. Furthermore, gift cards get the debit/cash rate. Since many gas stations charge a higher price for using credit versus using debit/cash, you can save up to 10 cents per gallon. Assuming gas prices are around, $2.50/gallon, that’s an additional 4% off. You’ll also get 1-2% off for buying on eBay through a portal. You’ll also get at least 2% back in eBay bucks (even more if you buy during an increased eBay bucks promo). You also get the credit card points for spending on eBay so we’ll say that’s roughly 1.5%. Add all of these savings together that’s roughly ~15% off.

Another option, at least for those in the Pacific Northwest, is buying Safeway Gift Cards. These can be used at the Safeway Gas Stations as well. I’ll get more into the value of the Safeway route a little bit later.

5% Rotating Category Bonuses

Many credit cards offer 5% back at gas stations during a specific quarter during the year. You can save by using this card for that quarter and even buying more gas gift cards to save in the subsequent quarters.

Costco

Costco has some of the best rates for gas. Of course, you have to have a Costco membership. My company provides me with a free Costco membership so whenever my wife and I have to take a trip up there to buy groceries and such we’ll usually fill up a car with gas.

Fuel Rewards Programs

There are two fuel rewards programs that I participate in. Although, I really only keep track of one of them. There is the Kroger Fuel Rewards program and the Safeway Fuel Rewards program. I have accounts for both, but since we tend to shop more at Safeway (since it is across the street from our condo) I only keep track of this program. So I will primarily focus on this program.

Here are the basics:

  • Earn 1 Fuel Rewards for 100 points.
  • Each Fuel Rewards gives you a discount of 10 cents/gallon
  • You can use up to 10 Fuel Rewards per fill up ($1 off)

Now the main issue here is how to earn points. Basically every dollar you spend at the grocery store is worth one point. Furthermore, gift cards that you buy are worth 2 points/$1. What I suggest doing if you get your gas primarily at Safeway is buy Safeway Gift Cards (that can be used for groceries or gas). Say you buy a $100 gift card, this means you’ll get 200 points, which equals 2 fuel rewards. You’ll essentially get 20 cents off/gallon plus you’ll get the debit/cash rate, which is usually 10 cents lower. The savings aren’t huge here, but they are better than nothing.

Right now, gas rates are pretty low therefore our budget for gas has decreased over the past few months. However, I expect it to pick back up in the summer. We don’t consume a whole lot of gas since my wife’s commute is about 20 minutes and my commute is only 10 blocks. I drive to work about 75% of the time due to laziness or errands that I have to run during my lunch break. In the future, I’d love to get an electric car especially as they start to become more affordable.