While getting gas for your daily commute or filling up before a family road trip, you’ve probably groaned at the numbers on the screen at the gas pump. Gas prices are climbing again.
The national average for regular gasoline sits at $3.82 at the time of writing, according to AAA. That’s down substantially from the highs we saw in the summer of 2022, but prices have been inching higher again.
The prices may be even higher where you live. In California, the average gallon of gas costs an astounding $5.29.
In the early months of 2022, the war in Ukraine and sanctions against Russia dramatically hiked the cost of crude oil … and the price at the pump. That swiftly led to the most dramatic price increases since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Fortunately, prices have returned to Earth since then, though prices are again moving in the wrong direction.
Given the uncertainty over the situation in Ukraine and the volatility in the global oil markets, it isn’t easy to know how long prices will stay high.
So, what can you do about it as you plan future travel or navigate higher prices in your day-to-day driving?
Thankfully, the last few years brought a quiet surge of gas station rewards and third-party loyalty programs designed to save you money on gas. This means there are more ways than ever to avoid paying full price. It’s possible to use one or multiple programs to save big on your next fill-up — and that’s before factoring in any rewards you earn with your credit card.
Below are some of the more popular programs, plus a few stacking opportunities where you can use two or more of these programs to fill up. If you’re strategic, you might even be able to turn a profit on your next trip to the gas station.
Fuel Rewards, a third-party loyalty program specifically for Shell gas stations, has been an incredibly lucrative way to save on gas. Once you get to know the program and tailor a few shopping patterns, it’s not too hard to build up enough rewards (earned in cents off per gallon) to make your next trip to the pump more affordable.
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Sign up for instant Gold status, which gets you 5 cents off per gallon on your first fill-up. This stacks with any additional Fuel Rewards you earn — all the way up to making gas nearly free.
Fuel Rewards now has a Platinum level that can save you up to 10 cents a gallon. To earn Platinum status, you’ll need to fill up at Shell 12 times with 10 gallons or more in three months.
Fuel Rewards has dozens of national partners where you can use a linked credit card to shop and earn cents off per gallon on your next fill-up. There is also a dining rewards program, a shopping portal and plenty of promotional offers (like T-Mobile Tuesdays) that allow you to earn Fuel Rewards.
Shop through the online portal and earn at least 5 cents per gallon. Link your Dunkin’ Donuts rewards account and earn an additional 10 cents per gallon. Eat at your favorite local restaurant in the dining rewards program and earn an extra 10 cents per gallon.
With those savings and Gold or Platinum status, your next fill-up will be at least 30 cents off per gallon. All Fuel Rewards fill-ups are capped at 20 gallons. Once you start pumping, your savings are used, whether you pump one gallon or 20.
Related: Top tips for how to save on gas
Circle K Easy Pay Debit
Another way to save at Shell is with Circle K Easy Pay Debit. This program allows you to save 30 cents per gallon for the first 100 gallons or 60 days, depending on your location, after which you’ll save 10 cents per gallon.
Here’s how it works: You get a physical Easy Pay card linked to your checking account. You then use that card to pay for your fill-ups, with all savings automatically deducted. Cards are PIN-protected and become locked after three failed attempts at logging in. The only downside is that you can’t earn credit card rewards this way.
Pilot Flying J myRewards Plus
Pilot and Flying J have a joint loyalty program called myRewards Plus, which lets drivers earn rewards on fill-ups and other purchases. The program runs various promotions, depending on the month.
In one promotion, you could get 10 cents off per gallon purchased when you pay for gas with the myRewards Plus app. Check the website for the current promos.
This third-party app hit the scene a couple of years ago and has expanded significantly. It now includes restaurant and grocery store rewards, as well as savings at the pump. You can claim offers in the app to save a certain number of cents per gallon.
After you claim an offer, you have four hours to fill up at the specific station you selected using a linked credit card. Cash back earned from the fill-up will then be placed in your Upside account, which you can cash out whenever you like. I like Upside because fill-ups with savings are good for up to 50 gallons.
Pay with GasBuddy
The Pay with GasBuddy program continues to evolve rapidly and improve. It used to award Shop Your Way points, but now it offers several levels of cash savings per fill-up. It introduced deals you can claim at specific gas stations right before you fill up and a “gas back” shopping portal in the app.
Similar to Circle K Easy Pay, payment occurs with a physical card connected to your checking account that GasBuddy mails to you. You pay with it at the pump. The amount you pump, minus any GasBuddy savings, is deducted from your checking account.
GasBuddy also offers a Pay with GasBuddy Premium option where you can save up to 40 cents per gallon after enrolling. This service costs $9.99 per month and guarantees you save at least 20 cents per gallon (up to 50 gallons per month). It also offers additional perks like roadside assistance.
Grocery store fuel points
Nowadays, almost every nationwide grocery store has its own fuel points program or has partnered with an existing national gas station brand’s program to offer fuel savings for your grocery shopping.
The newest entrant is Walmart+, which is Walmart’s subscription service offering free two-day shipping on online orders and other perks, similar to Amazon Prime. A subscription to Walmart+ costs $12.95 per month, though those with The Platinum Card® from American Express receive a monthly fee reimbursement for the service as a perk of having the card. (Cardholders get reimbursed with a statement credit after they pay for Walmart+ each month with their Platinum Card. The cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.)
You can save up to 20 cents a gallon if you fill up at Exxon-, Mobil-, Sam’s Club- or Murphy-branded gas stations. Additionally, there are several other grocery chains that offer gas discounts for being a member.
Kroger is a very popular option in the South. Between regular family grocery shopping and taking advantage of 4 fuel points per dollar spent on gift cards, it’s pretty easy to max out the $1-per-gallon savings the Fuel Points program allows. You can even buy third-party gift cards from the Kroger gift card-specific website. It regularly has gift cards for sale at a discount or with earnings of 4 fuel points per dollar.
You can stack two or more programs on a single fill-up to compound savings and make gas particularly cheap. Here are a few strategies:
- Fuel Rewards plus Pay with GasBuddy: The two programs operate independently, allowing you to lower the price at the pump with Fuel Rewards. You’ll then have less cash than you pump deducted from your checking account when paying at a Shell station with your GasBuddy card. If you earn enough Fuel Rewards to make a fill-up basically free, GasBuddy still gives you the savings based on the pre-discounted price of the Shell gas. This means you can make a profit when filling up your tank with gas.
- Kroger plus Pay with GasBuddy: The same principle as above applies when filling up for a discount using Kroger Fuel Points and then paying with your GasBuddy card.
- Fuel Rewards plus Circle K Easy Pay: Like the two strategies discussed above, you can earn Fuel Rewards when paying with your Circle K card.
- Stacking with Amex Offers: From time to time, American Express offers promotions on gas purchases. For instance, we’ve seen Amex offer 400 bonus Membership Rewards points when spending $40 on gas. These stack with gas station and third-party loyalty programs, though you must pay with the Amex card you linked the offer to. As such, you can’t stack Amex Offers with Pay with GasBuddy or Circle K Easy Pay.
Related: Best gas credit cards
With gas prices still well above the rates we were accustomed to during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s best to take advantage of the various ways to save money on gas.
Most nationwide gas station chains have their own loyalty programs, which typically have limited-time savings or a sign-up bonus. Plus, several programs can be used together to compound your savings even more. If you don’t use Pay with GasBuddy, make sure to use a credit card that earns great rewards at the pump to rack up additional savings.
Should you wish to stop paying for gas altogether, consider trying an electric or hybrid vehicle, which is helpful to your wallet and the planet far beyond your time on the road.
Additional reporting by Ehsan Haque, Andrew Kunesh, Sean Cudahy, Clint Henderson, Caroline Tanner and Benji Stawski.