Cheap Gas: Optimizing my Fuel Purchases

I like sharing good deals when I find them, and I’ve stumbled on to a great cheap gas deal that I wanted to share with the readers. I’m sure many have seen me talk about getting good gas mileage and gas prices have dropped to record lows in recent times, but to me it’s more about the challenge of finding a good deal than actually about the money. Although saving money obviously doesn’t hurt.

This information would only be useful to people living in the United States, and even then limited to those that can participate in the Rewards program of a gas station that isn’t available “everywhere”. But if you are like me, you’d feel pretty lucky taking advantage of the available offers.

So here it is… earlier this year I started buying discounted Gas Cards on eBay. I’ve purchased some from ExxonMobil, 76 and most frequently BP gas cards because they are often offered with a hefty discount, typically $95 for $100 card, or even $90 for $100 card. That’s 10% savings for buying something that you already use, I know I certainly do.

What I’ve discovered in addition to saving 10% for buying the gas card upfront, it also yields an $0.08 discount at the pump of my closest BP station. Now there are about six of them in the five mile radius of me, and only one offers this discount. And the discount is only offered on “Regular” or “87 octane” fuel, but still, it’s something that I use in the trucks in our household. (Miata uses 91 or 93 octane premium/super or BP terms: Ultimate fuel).

Recently, I discovered that BP has started offering a BP Rewards program, where for each dollar spent at the pump you earn a rebate which is used in lump sum at a fill up of your choice. The payment method doesn’t matter, you swipe your rewards card before fueling up, and you are free to use a credit card, a gift card like I do or just pay in cash. The transaction is recorded electronically and you are offered a discount at the next fill up. The current promotion running to the end of August is $0.25 per gallon for every $100 spent in purchases at BP. You have to decline the smaller discounts after each fill up until you accumulate the 25 cents, which could be a challenge because in New Jersey we do not pump our own gas and the gas station attendants either don’t understand or don’t listen to your requests, so I’ve started getting out of the car and doing my own selection before they pump my gas. It’s nice to get a discount. The $0.25 could be redeemed on a single fill up, so for me it wouldn’t make sense to use it for a Miata because of it’s 10 gallon tank when the trucks each could easily fit 18 gallons. The 25 cent discount could be compounded or stacked for each $100 spent, so the discount could be quite hefty. And considering I’ve spent over $900 this year already on buying gift cars (well with a 10% discount) that would have been a great tool to use had I realized it earlier. I’m already up to $0.17 closing in on my first $100 total.

The beauty of using a BP branded gas card at the gas stations in NJ is that you get the “cash” price for your fuel purchase vs. the “credit” price. These credit prices are often 5 to 10 cents higher than the cash price, so that’s a nice perk to have considering I buy my gas cards using a credit card and for each purchase I get frequent flyer miles which are very valuable to me to redeem for air travel. Since I make my gas card purchases on eBay I also participate in their eBay bucks / rewards program. Where I earn a small percentage back on qualifying purchases. BP gas cards qualify. And for each $90 I earn $1.80 back. So far I’ve redeemed $11+ back already towards the purchase of another BP gift card. Often I buy eBay electronic gift cards at $95 for $100 card, and use them towards the purchase of a BP gas card, which makes my $100 card only cost $85.

With all these savings I’m paying well under $2 a gallon for fuel!

How?

Well assuming fuel this week is $2.37 credit price:

$2.37 x 18 gallons = $42.66 for a full tank in the Explorer.

Now if I use the discounts, using gas card for cash price:

$2.29 cash price, $2.21 with 8 cent gas card discount, $1.96 with 25 cent BP rewards discount for the first $100 spent in purchases:

$1.96 x 18 = $35.28 for the same full tank in the Explorer.

Add this $7.38 in savings to the $16.80 I saved by buying $100 BP gas card through eBay (using $95 for $100 eBay gift card to purchase $90 for $100 BP card with $1.80 eBay rebate), that’s $24.18 in savings…  and at $2.61 for Ultimate fuel, I can fill up a tank in the Miata for that price, which would last me for two weeks use.

bp cheap gas

So the savings are pretty nice, and most importantly I love the challenge of getting the best deal available. Some may complain that this takes way more time than the money saved, but I disagree… Now if only I could find a similar scheme to get a better deal on some flights, I’ve yet to book my trips to Kuala Lumpur and Dubai, and if I could figure out a way of buying those tickets cheaper, I’d love it!