At Planting Our Pennies, Mrs. PoP reflects on grocery-store offers of gasoline discounts that grocery stores sometimes offer regular customers. Ultimately she concludes that these programs are hardly worth the effort.
Here in lovely uptown Phoenix, Safeway stores offer a gasoline discount after you’ve racked up some crazy number of dollars on purchased registered with the annoying red card. So every once in a while, they’ll offer my deceased dog (in whose name the card is made out) cents off on gas.
Problem: the nearest Safeway with gas pumps is way to hell and gone up on the north side! Safeway has reserved its shiniest new stores, the ones that sport gas stations, for the White Flight set. So Safeway gas stations exist only in areas close to the upper-middle-class tracts where the white folks have moved. And those areas are way, way off my beaten track. By the time I got all the way up there and back, I would have spent more on wasted gasoline than I would have saved on the gas buy.
And besides…better strategies exist. IMHO the Costco AMEX card is about the best of those. You get 3% back on gasoline (which is usually pretty cheap at Costco to begin with), 2% back at U.S. restaurants, 2% back on travel purchases, and 1% back on everything else. Once a year you get a lump-sum cash back “reward” — a kickback on purchases made during the year.
There’s a Costco on every corner in this city, so it seems. Costco underprices stations in the immediate vicinity of its stores. Gasoline prices vary wildly by the part of town you’re in: in upscale Scottsdale you can pay ten to thirty cents a gallon more than other parts of town. In the westside slums, you’ll pay ten cents a gallon less than you’ll pay in the more or less middle-class tracts in the central areas or the far west.
One Costco, which is on my way to many destinations, straddles an aging middle-class district and a downscale high-density area that feathers into the gang-infested tracts bordering the I-17. That thing ALWAYS has the lowest prices around. I try to time gas purchases to days when I know I have to drive down in that direction. The gas is cheaper in the first place, and then I get a 3% kickback on it.
So ultimately, by purchasing gas at Costco regularly — even if I happen to be at one of the higher-priced outlets — I end up saving a lot more than I would if I traipsed up to North Phoenix for the privilege of collecting “bargain” gas from Safeway.
In the gasoline department, BTW: man, quitting the hateful teaching gig sure is saving on the gas! In the last month I taught, the four-day-a-week commute racked up an astonishing $230 in gasoline bills. In the first full month of freedom: just $80.
Just think of all the things I can diddle away that $150 savings on! 😀