Before you pack up the car for a summer road trip you’ll never forget, make sure you sign up for a gas rewards program. If you’re spending the money anyway, you might as well get something back.
A change of scenery can be good for anyone, and sometimes the best destinations aren’t even that far from home.
And with COVID-19 still making travel rather difficult in some areas, a road trip lets you strategically plan your vacation so it fits within social distancing guidelines and your budget.
Many of your friends and neighbors already have the same idea. According to a recent survey conducted by GasBuddy, nearly one-third of Americans are planning at least one summer road trip this year. Seventy-two percent of respondents to the survey, which polled 1,820 GasBuddy members nationwide, also said COVID-19 had directly affected their summer travel plans.
With that in mind, it’s smart to look for ways to maximize the purchases you plan to make during your summer road trip – particularly gas. Gas rewards programs allow you to do just that.
How does a gas rewards program work?
By and large, gas rewards programs offer you a discount on gas purchases just for signing up. These discounts can be small: Many programs only let you earn 2 to 5 cents off per gallon if you’re not an elite member. However, some gas programs let you earn elite status if you buy enough gas to qualify on an ongoing basis.
Some gas programs also let you earn rewards on dining and other purchases, although these options vary. Also, remember that gas rewards programs offer discounts and benefits on top of any rewards you can earn by paying for gas with a credit card.
Which gas rewards program is right for you?
At the end of the day, it absolutely makes sense to sign up for a gas rewards program if you plan to drive a lot this summer. After all, these programs are free to join, so why not? The problem is figuring out which program to sign up for. To help in your search, we highlight all the top gas programs below.
BPme Rewards: Best for frequent BP and Amoco customers
The BPme Rewards program works for BP and Amoco gas stations, both of which let you earn 5 cents off per gallon as a member. While you normally need to spend $100 per month on gas in the program to maintain the 5 cent per gallon discount, BP is extending the 5 cent off rate through the end of August 2020 due to COVID-19.
Signing up for BPme rewards is absolutely free, and the discount you earn is automatically applied to your purchase when you fill up on gas at BP or Amoco and identify yourself as a rewards member. Just enter the phone number associated with your account at the pump or by downloading the BPme mobile app.
Exxon Mobil Rewards+: Best for consumers who splurge for premium gasoline
Exxon Mobil Rewards+ lets you earn discounts on fuel based on your spending, including gas purchases as well as purchases made inside the store. You’ll earn 3 cents per gallon in points at the pump and 2 cents per gallon in points for in-store purchases of drinks and more.
This program also lets you achieve Premium status for even deeper discounts. To qualify for this status, you have to fill up three times a month with eight or more gallons of Synergy Supreme+ premium gas. From there, you’ll earn 6 cents per gallon in points at the pump as long as you maintain this status.
This program is also free to sign up for, and you can monitor your rewards with the mobile app.
Shell Fuel Rewards: Best for stacking discounts
Shell Fuel Rewards is rather multifaceted for a gas rewards program, yet you can still use it to save big on gas at Shell Fuel Stations.
This program starts you off with Gold status for six full months, which qualifies you for 5 cents per gallon in discounts. To maintain Gold status, you must fill up with fuel at least six times during the final three months of your introductory period. If you don’t, you’ll revert to Silver status with the program, which means you will only get 3 cents per gallon off when you fill up at the pump.
Other ways to earn gas discounts in this program abound. For example, you can earn 10 cents off fuel for every $50 you spend at participating restaurants in the Shell Fuel Rewards dining program. You can also earn another 5 cents off per gallon when you spend at least $50 on travel and other purchases at participating stores through Shell.
See related: How to make the most of an airline dining program
This program is also free to sign up for, and you can stack all of the discounts you earn to maximize your gas savings.
Speedway Speedy Rewards: Best for free stuff
The Speedway Speedy Rewards program offers a ton of different ways to rack up points in its program, but each point does not translate into 1 cent in savings on gas. Instead, points are assigned to rewards you can redeem them for. As an example, you might rack up 1,750 points over time, then redeem those points for 10 cents off per gallon during a single fill-up. However, you can also use your points for free stuff including snacks, gift cards and more.
Signing up is free and earning points is easy. For starters, you earn 10 points per gallon of fuel and 20 points per dollar spent on merchandise. You can also earn more points on special items that change over time, like a certain type of ice cream or an energy drink. Additionally, you can earn fuel rewards points by shopping with partners that include select grocery stores, Points.com, Quicken Loans and more.
Kroger Fuel Rewards: Best for Kroger family of stores shoppers
The Kroger Fuel Rewards program is mostly geared to individuals who shop in the Kroger family of stores, which includes Ralphs, Dillons, King Soopers, Harris Teeter and more. This program is also free to sign up for and easy to understand.
You’ll start off by earning 1 fuel point for each dollar you spend in Kroger family of stores, but you’ll also earn 2 points per dollar when you buy gift cards. Qualifying prescriptions can net you another 50 fuel points.
The Kroger Fuel Rewards program also lets you earn more fuel points when you shop online through its store or at Fred Meyers Jewelers.
Circle K Easy Rewards: Best for simplicity
Circle K Easy Rewards makes it easy to sign up for free online or through the mobile app. Once you become a member, you’ll earn 10 points per gallon on fuel and 20 points per dollar on drinks, snacks and more.
Once you earn 2,000 points, you’ll get $2 in rewards you can apply to your next purchase. You can also qualify for special sweepstakes and promotions as a member, although these offers vary.
Best credit cards to use with a gas rewards program
Once you start comparing gas programs, you’ll likely notice that many of them have their own credit cards. However, store gas credit cards can typically only be used within that specific gas station or family of gas stations. Not only that, but the rewards you earn with these store cards can be limited, and they are usually only redeemable for free gas or merchandise.
The best cards to use with a gas rewards program are a lot more versatile, and more importantly, they are credit cards that can be used worldwide and with any retailer that accepts them.
Here are a few of our top picks:
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
- Earn a $300 statement credit when you spend $3,000 on your card within six months of account opening
- Earn 6% back on up to $6,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets each year (then 1%), as well as select U.S. streaming services
- Earn 3% back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (taxis, ride-shares, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more)
- Earn 1% back on all other purchases
- $95 annual fee (waived for the first year)
Why we like it: The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers generous rewards on U.S. supermarket purchases and in other categories, but you’ll also earn 3% back at U.S. gas stations and on transit. These rewards are earned regardless of where you fill up, and you can redeem your cash back for statement credits on your account.
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
- Earn 4% back on eligible gas purchases, including gas at Costco for the first $7,000 per year (then 1%)
- Earn 3% back on restaurants and eligible travel purchase worldwide, and 2% on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com
- Earn 1% on all other purchases
- No annual fee (with your Costco membership)
Why we like it: The Costco Anywhere Visa® Card lets you earn one of the highest rates of rewards on gas without an annual fee. This card’s 3% and 2% back categories can also help you earn points fast if you spend a lot on travel or with Costco. Just be aware that you can only redeem your rewards once per year at the end of your February billing statement, and they’re only good for cash back or merchandise in Costco stores.
Citi Premier® Card
- Earn 60,000 points when you spend $4,000 on your card within three months of account opening
- Earn 3 points per dollar at gas stations, restaurants, supermarkets, hotels, and air travel and earn 1 point per dollar on other purchases
- Qualify for an annual $100 hotel savings benefit when you book a single hotel stay of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees)
- $95 annual fee
Why we like it: The Citi Premier® Card is a good option if you travel a lot. This card lets you earn rewards that can be redeemed directly for travel through Citi, but you can also transfer them to an array of airline partners. You’ll earn 3 points per dollar at gas stations, restaurants and hotels, which can add up fast during a long summer road trip.
Before you pack up the car for a summer road trip you’ll never forget, don’t forget to make sure you sign up for a gas rewards program. Better yet, sign up for a few free programs that can reward you for stopping at various gas stations, and pair your efforts with a credit card for gas that will reward you for each dollar you spend.
If you’re spending the money anyway, you might as well get something back.