PTL gas prices have dropped since last year, but the average household is still expected to spend nearly $2,000 at the pump in 2015. What if you could save $35 on one fuel up? Better yet, what if you could save hundreds over the course of a year?
Saving money at the pump is essential for our family because we are not easy on the ol’ odometer. My husband’s long work commute means at least 25,000 miles on his car alone each year. The cost of gasoline can put a huge dent in our budget. Because of this, we’ve managed to figure out how to rarely pay full price for fuel. In fact, we save over $600/year on average and in January of this year, we were able to get gas for as little as $0.73/gallon!
How is this even possible, you ask?
KROGER. FUEL. POINTS.
HOW TO GET STARTED
- Do you have a Kroger, Dillons, Bakers, or another Kroger grocery chain in your neighborhood? You must first sign up for a “Plus Card” at the store—it’s FREE and takes about two minutes.
- Use your Kroger Plus Card in various ways to gain points (details below). For every 100 points you rack up, you’ll earn $0.10 off/gallon of gas.
- Each receipt from Kroger will print out your total points. You can also set up an account to check your fuel points online.
- When you go to a Kroger gas station, simply swipe your Plus Card and it will give you an option to receive your discount.
FILLING UP — GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR FUEL POINTS
- Kroger allows you to use up to 35 gallons for one fill up. If you’ve earned 1,000 fuel points in one month, that can be a total of $35 OFF! If you earn $1.00 off/gallon at least once a month (filling up 35 gallons), you’ll save $420 in a year!
- In order to take advantage of this, my husband and I coordinate our gas up trips and make sure our gauges are concurrently on E. It’s a science, really. My minivan holds 18 gallons and his car holds 12. We bring along a gas can or two and VOILA—we’ve filled up 35 gallons and saved ourselves some serious dough. Even if we have only $0.20 off/gallon, we do this. That’s still $7.00 we’re saving if we fill up together.
- What if you don’t have 35 gallons to fill? Let’s say you’re single with a car that only holds 12 gallons. Bring two or three large gas cans with you. If you’re getting $1.00 off/gallon, you’re still saving $22-$27. You could also share with a friend. Have your bestie meet you at the gas station, use your remaining fuel points, and then write you a check for their amount.
Now, let’s learn how to rack up those points. Here are my seven best tips for earning the most fuel points possible.
The most common way to earn points is to simply buy groceries. You know, that thing you do anyway to be able to, um . . . SURVIVE. Every dollar you spend at Kroger = 1 point.
STOP. I know exactly what you’re thinking: “So, you’re saying I have to spend $1,000 on groceries in one month just to save $35 in gas??? That’s not really saving me anything and I think you’re dumb.”
First, calling me dumb is not nice. Second, groceries are just one of many ways to earn fuel points. You know what our family of four spends on groceries each month? $300. However, according to the USDA the average low-cost meal plan for a family of four in March of 2015 was approximately $719.30 and a liberal plan went all the way up to $1,287.80!
That’s ONE MONTH of food.
If this is your budget for groceries, you may not need to continue reading. You could earn your $1.00 off/gallon with groceries alone.
#2 GIFT CARDS
This is quite possibly the most lucrative way to rack up your fuel points. Kroger has partnered with dozens of chains so you can buy gift cards to just about anywhere during your grocery run. Buying a gift card at Kroger = 2X fuel points. Buy a $25 gift card and you now have 50 fuel points.
About four times a year Kroger will offer 4X fuel points on their gift cards. This is the perfect time to stock up. It is now required for you to digitally download this offer to your Plus Card, so make sure you’re getting email updates to stay informed and be proactive.
Don’t limit the gift cards just for gifts. The key is buying them for yourself and then use like cash. Here are some scenarios for using gift cards to your advantage:
- You’re buying a $50 wedding gift for someone who registered at Target. Run to Kroger first, buy yourself a $50 Target gift card to spend on the gift. You just earned yourself 100 fuel points.
- Do you have a large housing project coming up? Buy yourself gift cards to Lowe’s or Home Depot and then use them at the store to pay. A few years ago we replaced the carpet in our living room—a $1,200 expense. We bought $1,200 in Lowe’s gift cards during a 4X fuel points promotion to use on the carpet. That alone gave us 4,800 points (the equivalent to saving $168 in gas).
- Dining out? We try to eat at locally owned restaurants, but let’s face it. Sometimes you just gotta have the salad and bread sticks from Olive Garden. Run to Kroger first to buy a gift card to that restaurant before you go.
Warnings about the Gift Cards:
- You do not get fuel points for purchasing Kroger gift cards. Yeah . . . tried that one.
- You CAN get fuel points for pre-priced MasterCard and Visa gift cards, but you’re hit with a $5.95 activation fee. Unless you purchase this during a 4X fuel points promotion, it’s honestly not worth it. Here’s why: A $100 Visa gift card = 200 fuel points (or $0.20 off/gallon). If you filled up 35 gallons, you would save $7. With the $5.95 fee, you’re only truly saving $1.05.
#3 DOUBLE POINT WEEKENDS
Kroger offers double fuel points on weekends (Friday-Sunday) during the summer months (ends August 2nd). To take advantage of this, you must digitally upload the offer to your Plus Card. In the summer, we only grocery shop on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays to get twice the points. I don’t care if the only thing we have left in the house are potatoes and a bottle of mustard come Thursday, dangit! (Guess what’s for dinner, kids!) We’ll make do with what we have until the double fuel point days.
Just about every Kroger has a Starbucks now, and if you’re going to grab that latte in the morning, you better get it from your neighborhood Kroger. Why? Because Starbucks inside Kroger allows you to swipe that Plus Card for fuel points, my friends. Want to work the system a bit? Consider this scenario:
You and your sweetie each get a venti frappuccino and a croissant for breakfast. Total cost is easily $15. Before you make the purchase, buy yourself a $15 Starbucks gift card. If you do this during a 4X promotion, you’ll get 60 fuel points. As you pay for your $15 order, use the gift card you just bought and swipe your Plus Card. You’ll get one point for every dollar you just spent. That’s an additional 15 points. Do all of this on a double-point weekend and you just earned an additional 15 points. That’s 90 points altogether.
For every prescription you fill at Kroger, you receive 50 fuel points (no matter the cost of the prescription). My family has two prescriptions refilled monthly. You better believe we always have these filled at Kroger because it earns us 100 fuel points each month.
Kroger also runs two promotions when you transfer your prescriptions. One is a $25 credit to spend in the store (not for gas). The other is 1,000 fuel points. If you have 35 gallons to fill, that’s $35 saved.
This is my new favorite way to gain points because it’s FREE and only takes about five minutes to complete. Every once in a while your receipt will have a code for a survey to complete. For every survey you fill out, you get 50 fuel points. You can only do one survey per week though. I try to do my survey every Tuesday. If there are five Tuesdays in a month, I can get 250 fuel points. You can also enter a drawing to win $5,000 in groceries each time you do the survey. A nice extra perk. Go to http://www.krogerfeedback.com to take the survey.
#7 THE 1-2-3 REWARDS VISA CARD
I personally do not use this one, but it’s worth throwing out there so you know all your options. Kroger offers their own credit card called the 1-2-3 Rewards Visa card. If you sign up and use this, you get an additional $0.25 off/gallon for every 100 points you earn. WARNING! This deal only lasts for the first three months after you activate your card.
Now, sweet reader, if you sign up for this credit card, please never carry a balance. You don’t want to be paying a 22% interest rate on the hamburger meat you bought six months ago. Not only is that silly, but you’re really not saving on fuel cost that way.
STINKERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
- Your fuel points expire, so it’s use ‘em or lose ‘em. You have until the end of the following month to use your points. Let’s say I earned 1,000 points in June. I will have until July 31st before they go away.
- The maximum amount of points you can use for one fill up is 1,000. If you have an awesome month where you rack up say, 3,000 points, you don’t get $3.00 off/gallon. You will have to fill up three separate times at $1.00 off/gallon each time.
- Points do not roll over. Let’s say you earned 999 points by July 31st; you will only get $0.90 off/gallon while the other 99 points are completely wasted. If something like this happens, for gracious sake!, please go back inside and buy yourself a pack of gum. I try to plan so that I am right at a round number or just a little over. If you’re at 920 points, don’t go back in and drop another $80 just to earn an additional $0.10 off/gallon. Be smart about the math.
Do you have any other tips about earning fuel points or questions about this post? Leave them in the comments. Also, we want to hear about your successes using these strategies.