Fuel giant BP has created its own app-based mobile payments platform, and it offers big savings on gas fill-ups along with the security of not having to swipe a card at the pump. Here’s how I used it to score discounts on gasoline, and lessons I learned along the way.
Fresh off saving an extra 10% at the grocery store (which ended up being $21.80) and $5 on the subway, I also scored a $5 discount at Shutterfly, and I thought I nabbed $12.08 off a $30.08 fill-up at BP. There’s an interesting story behind that one.
It all started when I received an email from American Express on Nov. 24. It explained that I needed to visit AmericanExpress.com/BP19 and log in with my American Express user ID and password to reveal a special offer.
The special offer requires me to download and use the BPme app at BP or Amoco through Dec. 31, 2019. I will receive an initial savings of 20 cents per gallon plus $10 off my first fill-up of $25 or more. The savings will drop to 5 cents per gallon through the following month.
To keep that benefit going another month, I’ll need to spend $100 on gas via the app (within a calendar month). The app also promises special bonus offers toward additional savings.
See related: Best gas credit cards
Using the app
The BPme app is essentially BP’s own mobile payments platform. I used it for the first time on Dec. 1, and had a good experience (minus my own foolishness, which I’ll detail shortly). They have a good video demo here. Basically, the app detects you’re at a BP or Amoco station. You tell it which pump you’re at, how much gas you want and which card you want to pay with.
You can use a credit or debit card. I prefer credit cards because they offer better rewards. Normally I would add that credit cards are more secure. That’s because debit cards are directly linked to checking accounts, so if money gets stolen, it’s “real” money (not simply a line of credit). You should get it back, but it could take weeks.
Gas stations are major targets for fraudsters because they don’t have to upgrade to the much more secure EMV readers until October 2020. Crooks often install skimmers on gas pumps because those are among the few remaining locations that primarily run off the outdated magnetic stripe system. Plus, gas pumps are often unattended, particularly at night, which makes it easier for criminals to get in and out undetected.
The BPme app is much more secure than swiping your card at a pump. The app includes a biometrics component (such as scanning your thumbprint or face to prove it’s really you). And they sent an authentication code to my email when I first enrolled.
See related: 4 credit card moves to make before the year ends
Problem: I linked the wrong card to the app!
A day after feeling smart that I saved 40% on a tank of gas, I realized this card-linked offer was for my Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, not my Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card!
I use the same login and password for both, and these cards offer 3% cash back and 3 points per dollar, respectively, at U.S. gas stations (among other benefits). And they’re both Amex cards, obviously. I mixed them up when I installed the app.
The good news is that this is fixable. The $10 off a $25 purchase promotion should still apply the next time I fill up, and at least I earned a 20-cent per gallon discount on my recent refueling. I’ve already switched my primary BPme card to the Blue Cash Preferred.
This highlights one of the pitfalls of juggling multiple cards. I have five now, and three of them give 3% cash back or 3 points per dollar at gas stations. The other (the Citi Premier℠ Card) is actually the most lucrative for gas spending aside from Amex’s $10 off $25 promotion.
That’s because the Citi Premier’s ThankYou points are worth at least 1.25 cents apiece when you book travel through the Citi portal and potentially even more if you transfer to their travel partners. I have my eye on JetBlue, which I enjoy flying and where I could likely get 1.4 cents per point in value.
But I digress: All of this complexity illustrates why my wife always asks me, ‘Can’t we just use one card for everything?’ Of course, we get a lot more rewards by juggling different cards that prioritize different spending categories, but it’s a lot easier to mix something up. At least my error was pretty minor in the grand scheme of things.
One other thing I’d change
I should have waited until Dec. 1 to sign up rather than pulling the trigger in late November. My initial 5-cent-per-gallon discount would have covered two full months (because it’s the month you sign up plus one more).
I’m only getting one full month plus a few more days that I didn’t take advantage of. There’s a silver lining here, too. I will probably spend $100 per month on gas, which will be enough to extend the 5-cent per gallon discount.
Despite a couple of self-inflicted errors, I’m glad I tried the BPme app, and I plan to continue using it beyond the initial discounts. There’s a BP station near my house with competitive prices, and stacking the 5-cent per gallon discount with the right credit card (in my case, the Citi Premier) will be worth it.
Information about the Citi Premier Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.