Earn frequent flyer miles at the gas station? Yes, you can

BP, United program shows how you can earn rewards in unlikely places

Cashing In with Tony Mecia

Tony Mecia is a business journalist who writes for a number of trade and general-interest publications. Every week, he answers readers’ questions about credit card rewards programs in his “Cashing In” column.

Ask Tony a question, or see if your question has already been answered in the Cashing In answer archive.

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Can I really earn United frequent flyer miles at the gas station? 

Yes, a United Airlines partnership with BP’s Driver Rewards program means you can earn two miles per gallon on regular and three miles per gallon on premium. Also, these miles are on top of those you earn with your rewards credit card.

Expert Q&A

Check out all the answers from our credit card experts.

Dear Cashing In,
I was at a gas station the other day and saw a flier for earning frequent flyer miles on United if I pump gas at BP. I had never heard of that before. Should I do that? Is there a catch? – Alice

Dear Alice,
Nowadays, it seems everybody has a rewards program. Your discovery that you can earn United miles when you fill up your tank is just an example of how it’s impossible to keep up with all the opportunities to earn rewards, miles or cash back. 

For example, you likely know you can earn frequent flyer miles when you eat at local restaurants that are part of airline dining programs or by clicking through an airline shopping portal before making purchases online. 

Gas stations now are another way to earn additional rewards. BP has BP Driver Rewards and Shell has Fuel Rewards, for example. 

These frequent customer programs allow participants to shave a few cents off a gallon of gas. BP’s program has that, too, but with the option of replacing those gas savings with frequent flyer miles on United. 

See related: Best gas cards

How the BP/United program works

Sign up for BP’s Driver Rewards program online. You have the option of linking a credit card to the Driver Rewards card that you will receive. 

When you use the Driver Rewards card at BP, it charges your linked credit card. You then receive two United miles per gallon for regular gas, or three United miles per gallon if it’s premium gas. (If you’re not interested in the miles, you can take a slight discount on future purchases of gas.) 

Note that these miles are earned through BP’s program, so they are in addition to any miles you receive by using a rewards credit card. For instance, if you use a Chase United Explorer or United MileagePlus Club card, you earn an additional frequent flyer mile per dollar. 

You might note that enrolling in this program is not a path to mountains of frequent flyer miles. If you pump 15 gallons of regular gas, you’re earning only 30 frequent flyer miles through the BP program. 

At that rate, you would need to pump gas about 833 times to earn a free domestic round-trip (25,000 miles) only through BP’s gas program. That’s a lot of gas. 

Still, that is more miles than you earn if you are not a part of the gas program, and it costs nothing to join. 

Earn credit card rewards in unlikely places

On these kinds of partnerships, they can be worth doing if you are earning rewards for something that you would do anyway, like pump gas, eat at restaurants, buy coffee, use a mobile wallet, or whatever the rewards program makes you do. 

If you are already doing those things, why not earn points for them? 

There are so many partnerships and ways to earn rewards, it is impossible to keep track of all of them. Look for offers in the mail, in your credit card statements, online and, yes, at the places where you buy things – including the gas station.

See related: 5 ways to earn airline miles without an airline card

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Updated: 03-24-2019