Billions of dollars of gift cards go unused each year, sitting in drawers, wallets or purses because the holder isn’t really interested in the store. When you give a gas gift card, it’s almost like giving cash and you can be sure your giftee will appreciate it. You can also keep a gas gift card in your vehicle’s glove compartment in case you ever find yourself low on fuel and don’t have a credit card or cash with you.
You can purchase many regular gas cards online, but other gas rewards cards are tied to promotions and you’ll have to order them at a brick-and-mortar location or over the phone.
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Buy Gas Station Gift Cards
You can’t buy generic gas gift cards you can use at any brand of station. You’ll need to buy cards from BP, Shell, Sunoco or just about any other national chain and use them only at those chain’s stations.
Do a search for the name of the chain you want, then “gas gift card” to find the website. Visit the link and navigate to the page where you can buy gas cards online. You’ll need a debit card, credit card or another digital payment method, such as PayPal, to order and pay for your card. Once you have your card, you can continue to reload it as you run low on credit.
Follow the directions, which will include providing your mailing address or the address of the person you want to receive the card. Make sure the amount you want to purchase is correct when you get to the shopping cart and check out stages. Unfortunately, it appears that chains are not offering a "digital gas gift card" at the moment, so you'll have to use a plastic gift card, rather than loading one to your smartphone.
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Use Gas Chain Credit Cards
While they aren’t gift cards, gas credit cards help you earn bonus points or discounts and help you get free gas. Visit the chain you’re interested in using, look up its gas card reward policies and deals and apply for one of their gas cards. Be aware that this is just like applying for a regular credit card in that the company will do a “hard pull” of your credit score, which can temporarily lower your score by a few points.
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Use Grocery Store Fuel Cards
Some grocery stores, such as Kroger and Publix, offer fuel cards as special promotions. Publix runs a gas card promotion every few weeks that allows you to buy a $50 gas gift card for only $40 when you make a $50 (or more) purchase at the store. Depending on how much you shop at Publix and how much gas you buy each week, you can save hundreds of dollars per year.
Kroger gives you fuel points you can use at any Kroger or Shell station when you use their shopping loyalty card. For every $100 you spend, you get 10 cents off a gallon of gas for one fill-up. The maximum is $1,000 in spending gets you $1 off per gallon of gas. This can be a very good deal if you supplement it with bonus purchases. For example, if you buy gift cards at Kroger, you get two times the points, and four times during promotional periods.
If you’re going to spend $250 at Home Depot or Amazon, you can buy a gift card from Kroger during a promotional period and get 1,000 fuel points, or $1 off a gallon of gas. You can use up to $35 worth of points at a single fill-up (such as filling your tank and a gas can for your lawnmower).
You can order a Kroger loyalty card online and then use it each time you shop at Kroger. You can also tie the loyalty card to Kroger’s shopping app, getting more free fuel points if you pay with your app each time.
Steve Milano has written more than 1,000 pieces of personal finance and frugal living articles for dozens of websites, including Motley Fool, Zacks, Bankrate, Quickbooks, SmartyCents, Knew Money, Don't Waste Your Money and Credit Card Ideas, as well as his own websites.