GasBuddy has launched a new discount card tied to your checking account. It might work for some consumers, but not all
Stop driving around looking for the lowest gas prices.
With gas prices rising, there are other ways to save that don’t involve burning gas and carpooling.
Warehouse clubs and gas company-branded credit cards have been around for decades, but the membership fees and credit requirements are not for everyone.
New or upgraded loyalty programs and smartphone apps are allowing more consumers to take advantage of similar savings.
“There is no commodity that people are more price sensitive toward than gas prices,” said Jeff Lenard, spokesman for the National Association of Convenience Stores. “It goes beyond a couple cents a gallon. There’s a real emotional connection to gas prices.”
Consumers don’t have a choice when prices fluctuate — they still need to gas up.
“You can’t tell the boss, gas prices are high I’m not going to come in this week. You can’t tell your kids soccer practice is cancelled,” Lenard said. “The only control that you have is to find lower prices.”
For the last 41 months, gas prices have stayed below $3 per gallon in most parts of the nation, Lenard said, but now are on the rise.
According to the AAA, at $2.66, the national gas price average is 11 cents higher than two weeks ago. The average was the highest in nearly three years.
Lower gas prices have changed the way people shop for gas, Lenard said, adding in July 2008, gas was at the highest national price at $4.11.
“If consumers can save a few cents a gallon, it feels like victory,” Lenard said.
GasBuddy, a company that tracks gas prices, released a study that found the best and worst days to buy gas.
Saving with GasBuddy
Allison Mac, director of marketing and communications for GasBuddy, said the popular app and website known for finding the lowest fuel prices, has found consumers are eager to save.
More than 70 million have downloaded the GasBuddy smartphone apps and a newer feature “Pay With GasBuddy” has saved users $1 million since its launch in late August.
Now, the app is tripling the savings thanks to a new partnership with Sears and Kmart’s Shop Your Way rewards program.
“People turn to us constantly to help them find cheap gas and save money on gas,” Mac said of the 17-year-old company. “The new program helps get cents off per gallon. You’ll virtually never pay full-price for gas ever again.”
Most consumers will save up to $340 yearly.
To start saving, add your checking account and license to the GasBuddy app along with contact information. You’ll receive a GasBuddy card in the mail in about seven days.
Mac said the app takes security seriously and uses “multi-level security mechanisms including dedicated firewalls.”
There are two options for earning cashback when signing up for the feature. You can choose to receive 10 cents off your first fill-up and then 5 cents off each gallon for subsequent purchases at 90 percent of the nation’s gas stations.
“The pump price will be the same as what is advertised but when you look at your checking account that’s where you’ll see the difference,” Mac said.
Or you can earn cashback with the Shop Your Way program where points can be redeemed at Sears and Kmart stores. You’ll earn 30 cents per gallon back in points on gas purchases for 60 days and then 15 cents a gallon after.
With that option and a 10 gallon gas tank, you can save $3 per fill-up for the first 60 days and then $1.50 per fill-up later on.
“Comparing and being a smart shopper is always important,” Mac said. “Gas prices are only going to go up until the Fourth of July when prices are going to peak.”
The GasBuddy card is accepted at most gas stations that accept debit, however, warehouse clubs including BJ’s Wholesale Club, Costco, Sam’s Club, as well as select Walmart stations and Exxon Mobil stations are not participating.
Learn more at www.gasbuddy.com.
GetUpside launches in Florida
Another app for earning cash back on your gas purchases is GetUpside, which recently expanded in Florida and can save users up to 25 cents per gallon at participating gas stations.
The program is available in nearly 1,500 Florida stations and twice that is expected by the end of 2018, said Wayne Lin, co-founder and chief operating officer.
It’s also available in Washington D.C., parts of Virginia, Maryland and New York and Lin said the hope is to roll out nationwide in the next two years.
“It’s a free app for free money on something you’re going to buy anyway,” Lin said. “I think gas is unique because it’s kind of like taxes. No one says ‘I really want to spend my money on gas.'”
Grocery stores and restaurants are a part of the program in the northeast and will eventually be added to Florida.
Since the 2016 launch, 275,000 users have saved more than $1.2 million with users earning an average of $124 in cash back a year.
How it works: Download the GetUpside app at www.getupside.com and sign up. Find participating gas stations and click on “claim” before filling up. Pay with a credit or debit card within four hours of claiming offer and upload your receipt.
Cashing out: Once you earn $15 in your account, you can choose to get a Paypal deposit without a $1 fee or if you refer a friend the fee is waived on Paypal withdrawals. For a mailed check, you need to have $50 in your account.
Referral program: When you refer a friend, you and the friend get a 20 cents per gallon bonus and you’ll then get 2 cents per gallon every time the friend fills up.
Road to additional savings
Here are some of the top free gas station rewards programs: Note, not all gas station locations participate in these programs so when in doubt ask a store associate.
Plenti: Developed by American Express, Plenti is the nation’s first coalition loyalty program, which allows shoppers to earn rewards at multiple businesses with one membership card. Earn and use points on purchases at participating Exxon and Mobil gas stations, Winn-Dixie supermarkets. Macy’s and Chili’s will not participate in the program after May 3. Learn more at www.plenti.com.
Cumberland Farms’ SmartPay: Save 10 cents on every gallon of gas with SmartPay, which requires you to link a SmartPay Check-Link card to your checking account. Learn more at www.cumberlandfarms.com/smartpay.
Shell Fuel Rewards: Earn gas discounts through purchases at participating restaurants, grocery stores and online stores. Most offer 5 to 10 cents per gallon savings for every $50 you spend. There’s a sign-up bonus offer for 25 cents a gallon on your second gas fill-up. Learn more at www.fuelrewards.com.
Speedway Speedy Rewards: Earn 10 points per gallon of fuel purchased and points on items inside the convenience store. As a rewards member, you are automatically in the chain’s clubs like the Beverage Club where you get your seventh drink free. Get a card in-store or sign up at www.speedyrewards.com or on smartphone apps.
RaceTrac Rewards: Earn points at the pump and inside the store with the rewards app. However, while you can earn points on fuel purchases the points can only be redeemed for free items in store. Learn more at www.racetrac.com/rewards.
Kelly Tyko is a consumer columnist and retail reporter for Treasure Coast Newspapers and TCPalm.com, part of the USA TODAY NETWORK. This column reflects her opinion. Read her Bargainista tips at TCPalm.com/Bargainista and follow her on Twitter @KellyTyko. Sign up for her weekly newsletter at www.tcpalm.com/featured-newsletter/bargainistabest.
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