Robbing Peter to Get a Discount from Paul…Sort Of

17 Aug

I’ve tweeted before about getting discounts from Shell gas stations, where they’ve made a deal with The Kroger Company.  If you shop at one of their stores – in my case, it’s Ralph’s supermarket – with your rewards card, you get 1 point for every dollar spent, which you can then redeem at any Shell station.  It’s currently 100 points for 20 cents off per gallon at any Shell station.

Since I live alone (also expect a post eventually about frugal living by yourself!), my grocery buying underpaces my gasoline consumption.  I usually fill up my tank every 7-10 days, and you can bet that I don’t buy $100 worth of groceries in that same amount of time!

To still get the discount, Ralph’s has other ways of getting points.  You get 5 extra points per bag if you bring your own grocery bags, which I always do as well.  You can get 50 points per prescription if you use their pharmacy, but their hours of operation don’t always work with my schedule.  Sometimes they have promotions and you can get double or triple points if you buy certain foods.

To get more points, I buy gift cards.  You get double points for any that you buy (i.e., a $25 gift card gets you 50 points).  This may seem counter-intuitive to outlay cash for what some may consider a nominal discount, but my mantra is to not pay full price for anything.  See my last receipt:

With the exception of the carrots, everything was on sale.  If it’s not marked down, there is a 99% chance that I just won’t buy it.  So I got 88 points for fuel instead of 38, had I not bought the card (and ended up being 1 point short – curses!).

I always choose a gift card from a store where I know I’ll eventually be shopping anyway.  Usually it’s Target or Amazon.  If a friend’s birthday is coming up, I may get a Best Buy one (and I’ve used the Amazon ones for makeshift gifts too), but most often I’m just going to use the gift card myself.  On my next trip to Target, the first thing I’ll do is apply that gift card towards my purchase there.  You can also buy plain old Visa or Mastercard gift cards.

I realize that I’m fortunate enough to be able to outlay these additional expenses ahead of time, and that some may not have the cash to do so.  I’m also lucky that there are 3 Shell gas stations very close to me.  If I had to drive out of my way to buy gas there, I wouldn’t make the effort.

The last time I bought gas, 87 octane was $4.09 per gallon; obviously my discount brought it down to $3.89.  I bought 11 gallons, so my total discount was $2.20.  If I hypothetically buy gas every 8 days, this will save me $100 per year.

And on a multiple discount sidenote:  I have a Chase Freedom card, which will give me 5% back on gas station purchases until September 30.

Because let’s face it:  gasoline prices suck, and any way to alleviate this cost, even slightly, brings me satisfaction.  What frugal tricks do you do to take advantage of rewards programs?

P.S.  I would absolutely take public transportation to work to cut my driving costs down, but L.A.’s transit system isn’t as great as other cities.  Boo.

Disclaimer:  I am not receiving any monetary or non-monetary type of compensation from Ralph’s Grocery, The Kroger Company, or Shell.

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2 Responses to “Robbing Peter to Get a Discount from Paul…Sort Of”

  1. Modest Money August 20, 2012 at 11:33 AM #

    It’s a smart move to buy gift cards to get a further discount. I’ll be doing that once I switch to a credit card that gives higher cash back rebates at the grocery store. As long as it’s somewhere you would be shopping at eventually, it makes a lot of sense. I just try to put as many of my purchases as possible on my credit card to get the most rebates.

    • Frugal Flip August 21, 2012 at 10:18 PM #

      Yeah, it’s a game I play: how many different avenues of discounts I can get from one purchase. 😉 If I didn’t have the Chase Freedom card, I would get the Costco AmEx card for 3% back on gas all year, but I don’t want to apply for a new card.

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