Jan 21, 2013

Discount Combos: how to save more money at the pump

Every time I go get gas, regardless of the station, there are always signs, banners, stickers bragging about how you can save money at their facility on the black, syrupy stuff. Sign up for our credit card, you'll save 3-5 cents off the gallon. Buy groceries in our partner groceries store, you'll save 10-50 cents off a gallon. Buy a Snickers bar and a coke, you'll save 5 cents off a gallon. I've seen it all.

All of these things sound REALLY good because gas stations know we HATE paying for gas, so they capitalize on it. They tell us to buy something from them to save money on gas, so we think we are getting a better deal. Here is the reality.

We are not saving very much on gas. Sure, 5 cents, 10 cents, even 20 cents off the gallon sounds like a lot of money, but do the math. I usually put about 12 gallons in my car when I fill up, 5 cents off is only saving me 60 cents total, 10 cents saves me $1.20, and 20 cents saves me $2.40. Sure, it's nice to save a buck or two, but that's really not that impressive considering I just spent $45 bucks filling up my tank, and in a lot of cases, I had to spend money on something else to get it. For instance, shopping at that grocery store to get 10 cents off the gallon is generally not the most frugal way to buy food. Discount grocery stores offer far more in savings.

The point is, these little discounts aren't much...but, what you can do is to put them all together. Here's what I mean.

I went to the gas station last week to fill up. I fill up at Sheetz in Hamburg because it's on my way to work and gas is usually about 5 cents cheaper there then it is in Reading.. I happen to get my prescriptions filled at Weis Markets which partners with Sheetz for gas discounts. And I use a credit card that gives me 5% cash back on gas for half of the year.

The other reason I choose Sheetz as my gas station is I can save 5 cents off a gallon WITHOUT using their credit card. It's simply a swipe card, similar to a grocery store card. What this means is, I can use discount combinations. I can swipe my Weis card, save 10 cents, swipe my Sheetz card and save 5 cents, and then, I can pay with my Chase Rewards card and save 5%. And by the way, saving 5% on gas is about 3-4x's better than saving 5 cents on the gallon.

So let's add up my discounts:
Gas was $3.45
-10 cents off for Weis
-5 cents off for Sheetz
-5% off from Chase
Gas final price = $3.135/gallon

That's a $3.78 savings for 12 gallons.   Now I'm not going to lie to you - gas is still expensive. But until we all get smart (or desperate) and start riding our bikes to work, combining gas discounts is the best we're gonna get. And by the way, I am totally open to riding my bike everywhere to save money, I'm just looking for someone to push me. Inquire within.

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