Looking for an easy way to get gas so cheap it's practically free? We found a way to save thousands of dollars on fuel over a year with Kroger Fuel Points. Kroger is the nation's largest grocery chain, with nearly 3,000 stores in 35 states, mostly in the Midwest and South but creeping into the Mid-Atlantic region, too. Don't live in those regions? You can also try this strategy at Kroger's affiliated stores.
The list of Kroger-affiliated chains includes Dillons, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry's, Harris Teeter, Home Chef, King Soopers, The Little Clinic, Mariano's, QFC, Ralphs, Roundy's, Ruler Foods, Smith's and Vitacost.
How to Get Cheap Gas By Buying Gift Cards
We've all seen the racks of gift cards for sale in grocery stores. They're usually for everyday chains—Applebee's, Amazon, Staples, Macy's, Starbucks, and so on—but you may ignore them. Kroger has a rewards program that gives you one "fuel point" for every dollar spent. Kroger typically awards one fuel point per dollar spent on groceries and two fuel points for gift card purchases. During special promotion periods, Kroger sometimes offers four fuel points for gift card purchases.
How to Redeem Kroger Fuel Points for Epic Savings
Kroger Fuel Points can be redeemed for discounted gas at Kroger gas stations as well as at Shell stations in certain states.. One hundred fuel points shaves 10 cents off a gallon of gas and it scales up linearly so that one thousand points shaves $1 off a gallon, and so on.
Kroger limits fuel point redemption to a maximum of $1 in savings per gallon, but a few selected cities (such as Richmond, Virginia) have unlimited fuel point redemption. So if you refuel in Richmond and have 2,400 fuel points, you can redeem them for $2.40 off per gallon, which we captured in this video.
You can squeeze even more savings into this strategy by purchasing the gift cards with a credit card that rewards you for spending on groceries. Check to see if one of your credit cards makes such an offer, and if not, consider applying for one that does.
Power Tip:Want even more savings? Fuel up all of your family cars back-to-back, so that multiple cars benefit from the same big savings.
Our latest fill-up in action
How Buying Gift Cards Can Save You Money
They key to this money-saving scheme is to purchase gift cards to places you shop anyway. Do this strategically when you have a big purchase, such as a large home improvement project (Home Depot and Lowe's gift cards) or holiday gifts. Also, be on the watch for selected weekends when Kroger also offers 4X fuel points on Visa and MasterCard prepaid cards of up to $100 in value (make sure to digitally load the coupon). Note that there is usually an activation fee for Visa and MasterCard gift cards, so make sure the denomination is larger than the activation fee.
What if your hometown doesn't have a Kroger? There are lot of other fuel reward programs out there. Check your local grocery store to see if it offers a similar program.
Amit Desai runs an awesome Facebook group called Credit Card 101.