Points at the Pump

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There are a number of credit cards that offer extra points or extra cash back when used in gas stations.  If you don’t have one of these cards, though, you can still save money and earn extra points when buying gas.  The trick is to find the best deal you can on gas gift cards, and then use those cards to buy gas. Here’s how:

Easy option:

If you have a credit card that offers extra points or cash back for grocery or drug store purchases, then simply go to your local grocery or drug store and check out their selection of gift cards.  You should be able to find gift cards for gas stations (and other stores for that matter) that you visit regularly.  By buying gift cards in this way, you’ll earn far more extra points or cash back from your credit card than you would have if you used your credit card just for regular grocery or drug store purchases.

Expert Option:

Find an online store in which you can buy their gift cards and earn extra points or cash back by going through an online shopping portal.  Use the portal to buy that store’s gift cards.  Then, go to the store to “upgrade” the store gift cards to gas gift cards.  This approach requires quite a few pieces to fall in place, so don’t try it unless you know that everything fits!  One place I’ve done this successfully is as follows:  1) Through the Ultimate Rewards shopping mall, I bought Sears gift cards for 10 points per dollar; 2) At my local Kmart I used the Sears gift cards to buy BP gift cards (I call that an “upgrade”); and 3) At BP, I used the BP gift cards to buy gas.  I know, it seems crazy to do so much to get a few extra points, but if you enjoy playing this points and miles game as I do, it might be worth it for you to try it.  Note that, unfortunately, Sears is down to 4 points per dollar through the Ultimate Rewards Mall right now, but if you search on evreward.com you might find other shopping portals with better rates of return for Sears’ purchases.

Other Benefits:

A contributor to a MilePoint thread I set up pointed out this little gem:  If your gas station charges more for credit card transactions than for cash, using gas station gift cards will get you the cash price!  This means that not only will you earn extra points through one of the options above, but you will save money as well!


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About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

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Comments

  1. FM – any issues redeeming Sears gift cards (@KMart) for BP gift card? T&C’s on the Kmart gift card states “Not valid for purchase of third party debit or prepaid cards”, but I know you’ve had success in doing just that.

    • Simon: No, as long as your KMart carries BP gift cards you should be OK. The only warning is that some cashiers don’t understand that it is OK. Mostly I’ve had no problem. I think the T&C is referring to Visa, MC, and Amex gift cards. It is true that for those types of cards, the Kmart register won’t allow you to purchase them with a gift card.

      Steelsnow: Maybe bring along a Sears gift card when you travel, just in case?

  2. My Home Depot has a sign that says Home Depot gift cards cannot be used to purchase other gift cars. not sure if any Sears or Kmart stores have gone that route, but I wanted to point it out just in case.

  3. @ FM: Funny, I just had the same thought about the ebay gift cards. I can imagine the reaction from my spouse about wanting to go into KMart and buy out their gas and ebay cards while on vacation… I think my next post would start ‘LIVE from an institution!’.

    • Rachel: thanks for pointing that out. I appreciate that Home Depot lists that right on a sign rather than making you wait in line only to be told no at the register!

      Steelsnow: Practice this: “Honey, I’m going to run out to the store to buy the [fill in the blank] that you like. I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

  4. Chase Freedom is offering 5 points per dollar this quarter. I have been looking into how to lock this rate for the rest of the year as I spend at least $2000 per year on gas. Chevron and Arco gift cards bought online are not good value as you get charged a 3.5% transaction fee along with shipping. I will look into the sears method. Anybody else have any luck figuring out how to buy gas gift cards at same cost as face value?

  5. One of the Pentagon Federal Credit Union credit cards provides 5% cash back for gasoline. Anyone can join the Credit Union one way or another. A tiny bit of hassle gets you lots of cash back for the rest of your driving life. You can find the link and further info on my website in the Credit Cards > Free Cards > Cash Back Cards section.

  6. I’d like to provide an update on the Gas cards. I was able to successfully buy gas cards at Chevron without an extra fee and the points did post. The best thing to do would be to buy amazon/gas gift card combos with a total worth of $1500 spend for 5 points per dollar in the beginning of the quarter and enjoy it for however long the cards last.

  7. Yes. Sorry, forgot to mention I was using my Freedom card. I wish there was no $1500 limit for the quarterly bonus categories.

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