February 27, 2012
Here are ways to ease the pain at the pump.
Last month I published ways to maximize points per dollar at Amazon.com. Now, with gas prices rising through the roof, it’s time to look at what we can do to ease the pain at the pump. There are quite a few really good options, but each depends on which credit cards you carry. If you carry a card that automatically gives extra points for gas station purchases (such as, for example, the PenFed Platinum Rewards Card at 5X), then you may already be maximizing your savings. Otherwise, read on:
Blue Cash Preferred:
This card already gives 3% cash back for gas purchases, but you can do better! Since the card gives 6% cash back for grocery purchases, you can go to your local grocery store to buy gas gift cards and receive 6% cash back! Even better, if you shop for gas cards at either Giant Eagle or Kroger grocery stores, you can earn additional gas discounts through their rewards programs!
In the first quarter of 2012, gas stations and Amazon.com are the 5X bonus categories for the Chase Freedom card. As long as you register for the promotion, until the end of March gas station purchases will be rewarded with 5 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar, up to $1500 for the quarter. After the first quarter, not all is lost. Take a look at the Freedom’s bonus category chart:
- Q1 (January – March): Gas stations and Amazon.com
- Q2 (April – June): Groceries and movie theaters
- Q3 (July – September): Gas stations and restaurants
- Q4 (October – December): Hotels, airlines, Best Buy and Kohl’s
Q1 is already covered. In Q2, note that groceries are on the list. Many grocery stores carry gas station gift cards. So, from April to June, rather than using your Freedom card at the gas station, go to your grocery store to buy gas gift cards. In Q3, gas stations return to the bonus category list so you can go back to using the Freedom card directly at gas stations. In Q4 you may be out of luck unless you can find gas gift cards at Best Buy or Kohl’s.
The Chase Ink Bold, Ink Classic, and Ink Cash cards offer 5 points per dollar for purchases at office supply stores. So, using your Ink card, visit an office supply superstore such as Office Depot and load up on gas gift cards. Note that I’ve seen gas gift cards at Office Depot, but not at OfficeMax. I haven’t looked yet at Staples.
American Express Business cards
Most American Express business cards give you American Express OPEN Savings. This means that, for purchases at certain merchants, you get money credited back to your account. One example is OfficeMax in which you receive 5% back for purchases of $100 or more. If you can find gas gift cards at your local OfficeMax then you can save 5% on all gas purchases! Note, though, that my local OfficeMax does not appear to carry gas gift cards so this may not be possible unless the OfficeMax near you carries them.
If you hold a credit card that offers bonus points in certain categories such as groceries, drug stores, office supplies, etc., then check to see if your local stores carry gas gift cards. Find a store that qualifies and use your card to load up!
Icing on the Cake
Many gas stations charge more for credit card purchases than for cash. With gas gift cards, though, you will be charged the cash price!
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