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kvs25 said:   Here in NJ, cash and credit prices are different (credit is higher than cash). If I buy a gas station GC at a supermarket and try to use it, they will count that as cash, correct?? and NOT credit?

Correct here in CA.

Just wanted to add about Costco: I HATE how the Costco gas line is always ridiculously long. I waited once for over 20 minutes in a line of cars to get gas. Never again Costco. Never again.

depalma13 said:   kintro said:   I doubt it's full price unless the store doesn't allow cc payment for GC's. Presumably he'd buy GC's with a 5 or 6 percent CB card. Some stores are harder to reach 5%+ CB through merchant coding (ie forementioned ARCO who only takes cash/debit, Target, SWA, Alaska Air, PETsMART, TRU, etc).

So it's not like robbing Peter to pay Paul because there's a CB benefit to buying the GC's and also the CB + fuel reward discount when gas is purchased.


I'm not worried about the Cash Back from the credit card, you can get that with any purchase. I'm talking about buying a gift card for the store or buying a gift card for a restaraunt or Home Depot, etc.

If he's buying the gift card for the store, he's locking himself into higher grocery prices. If he's buying it for another store, than paying full price for the value of the card will eat away at any discount at the pump, since gift cards for many retailers can be bought online for big discounts.



Yes, I totally agree that GC's can often be found for less than face value online/elsewhere. You're correct that not all GC's are created equal (ie WalMart GCs usually close to cash value).

It boils down to the math & potential hassle factor. Personally, I find it's worthwhile to buy Target & ARCO GC's from safeway, especially when they have the recent $25 off $50 catalina deal and 4x fuel rewards. I would not buy certain GC's from safeway like Outback, Chilis, <other crappy regularly discounted GC> as these can almost always be found for a deep discount elsewhere.

The only way to save on gas to to buy an electric or hybrid car. It is only a matter of time until we see $5.00+ for a gallon of gas again. I do feel bad for the people that are required to use gas guzzlers for work purposes.

Of course you want to use Gasbuddy to see where the low prices are, noting that some people put in the CASH price when they are supposed to put in CREDIT.

Our Costco is OFTEN cheaper, sometimes $.20 a gallon. It is NOT ALWAYS cheaper, depending on whether prices have just dropped and they filled their in-ground tanks before they dropped. That's why I check GasBuddy first.

Also, Costco prices don't change from when they close in the early evening until they open the next morning, so don't drive by at 9AM and think that's the price it will be when they open.

Use natural gas

As others have mentioned CB credit cards and grocery stores is what we do.

Our Kroger grocery stores have a point system for purchases and 4x points on gift cards during certain times when we stock up. This is redeemed with up to $2 off a gallon of gasoline up to 35 gallons pumped. Lets run the numbers.

Assumptions:

$3.50/gallon regular price for gas.
Purchased gift cards to gas stations from Kroger, Currently Shell and BP (equates to 14% off)
AMEX Blue Cash Preferred (6% off at grocery stores)

So for 35 gallons of gas you end up getting it for $2.80/gallon.

You have to jump through the hoops of buying the gift cards at the right times with the right card, but it is worth it for our household. Also the investment in a couple of gas cans if your vehicles don't hold 35 gallons at once (ours don't).

Still, you DID say the absolute lowest price...

I just do the safeway (smiths in my personal experience) thing + penfed. When I have a bunch of points i'll go down and fill up both cars and a gas can. $1 off + 5% is pretty meaninful when your doing 30+ gallons.

My PenFed card gives me 3% not 5% Cash Back when I fill up at grocery store gas stations. Anybody else have this issue?

A hose and a siphon pump is the cheapest I've found to get gas around my neighborhood. Just remember not to get greedy, take too much and the neighbors will get suspicious!

brettdoyle said:   The absolute lowest price would be to fill up your tank and drive off, while not paying anything. If you can find a gas station that lets you pump before you pay which used to be the norm.
Yes! Just pretend gas is an entitlement. It belongs to you cause you can't afford to pay like everyone else.

Buy gas in Venezula. $.12/gallon.

Stunner2xx said:   The only way to save on gas to to buy an electric or hybrid car. It is only a matter of time until we see $5.00+ for a gallon of gas again. I do feel bad for the people that are required to use gas guzzlers for work purposes.

That's nonsense.

I love Costco, but rarely buy gas there. The lines are usually insane and it is typically within 10 cents per gallon of the local Speedway. I'm not wasting 30 minutes wating for a pump to save $1.80.

elist said:   As others have mentioned CB credit cards and grocery stores is what we do.

Our Kroger grocery stores have a point system for purchases and 4x points on gift cards during certain times when we stock up. This is redeemed with up to $2 off a gallon of gasoline up to 35 gallons pumped. Lets run the numbers.

Assumptions:

$3.50/gallon regular price for gas.
Purchased gift cards to gas stations from Kroger, Currently Shell and BP (equates to 14% off)
AMEX Blue Cash Preferred (6% off at grocery stores)

So for 35 gallons of gas you end up getting it for $2.80/gallon.

You have to jump through the hoops of buying the gift cards at the right times with the right card, but it is worth it for our household. Also the investment in a couple of gas cans if your vehicles don't hold 35 gallons at once (ours don't).

Still, you DID say the absolute lowest price...


I think your math is off, or we are just looking at it differently. Right now with the 4X points promo running and up to $2/gal off (normally it is $1/gal max).

- $500 GC = 2000 points (assuming you can use $500 of store cards)
- AMEX 6% Cash Back = $30
- $2/gal off 35 gal of gas = $70, and gas is $1.50/gal (if $3.50 to start).
- CashBack equivalent is 20% ($30 cash + $70 free gas) / $500

When only the 2X promo is in place
- $1000 GC = 2000 points
- AMEX 6% Cash Back = $60
- Free gas still is $70
- CashBack equivalent is ($60+$70)/$1000 = 13%

If you can't use store cards, $100 Visa/AMEX/MC give the 4X points (variable load only 1X) but have a $5 load fee.
- 5 x $100 Credit Gift Cards = $525 purchase price = 2100 points (you earn points on load fee too)
- AMEX Cash Back = $31.50
- Loss on load fees = ($25)
- Free gas is still $70
- CashBack equivalent is (31.5+70-25)/500 = 15.3%
- 100 leftover points, which could be another $3.50

If no 4X promo, I still buy $500 AMEX gift cards which earn 500 points. I can't burn $2000 worth quickly, so I only do one at a time:

- $500 Credit Card = $506 purchase price and 500 points (no points on load fee)
- AMEX Cash Back = $30.36 (even without gas points, works out to 4.8% Cash Back after load fee)
- Loss on load fee = ($6)
- Free gax = $.50 x 35 gal = $17.50
- CashBack equivalent = (31.36 - 6 + 17.5)/500 = 8.5%

I tend to use a combination of the above based on what stores I plan on visiting in the coming month or two. I keep a prepaid MC/AMEX in my wallet for day to day stuff since it is a 4.8% equivalent even without the gas points. I am also careful to be sure to earn 2000 points in a single month since you can't combine 500 points from October and 1500 points from November. I also have to fill a few gas cans to use my 35 gallon allowance.

I'm on E right now, so its off to Kroger tonight to spend my 2000 point bank.

EradicateSpam said:   Of course you want to use Gasbuddy to see where the low prices are, noting that some people put in the CASH price when they are supposed to put in CREDIT.

This is quite annoying. I've contacted Gasbuddy a few times to see if they could list cash and credit prices separately, but they have never responded to me.

dcwilbur said:   LiquidSilver said:   jnheinz said:   You can talk about the amount of energy in the fuel, but you can't say how it will perform in an unknown user's car. He may have a brand new Ford with FFV, or he may be like me and have a 97 Taurus FFV. Newer cars, it will be better -- Older cars, much worse.Newer may or may not be better, I don't think you can make that claim. All the studies I have seen have E85 between 24%-30% less efficient than standard gas. From personal experience my 2005 Nissan Titan got about 25% less mpg with E85. It seems pretty fair to use 27% as a baseline figure.

Using your example of a 2012 Ford with FFV (an auto focus). With gas it gets 28/40. With E85 it gets 20/28. That is 29% and 30% worse mpg with E85.
A 2000 Taurus (couldn't find data on a '06) get with gas 17/26, and with E85 it get 12/19. So 29% and 27% worse mpg on E85.

So newer is not always better. But E85 will always be worse, and always roughly around 27% worse, give or take a few percent.

Link to all 2012 vehicles mpg with E85
About 25% worse in my Suburban. We ran one tank of E85 through it a few years ago - never again. Corn is for eating!


I just e-mailed my wife -- we're done buying E85 as well. I hope the trend continues through the populace of America.

EdMcK515 said:   Buy gas in Venezula. $.12/gallon.

My tanker is enroute. I will be landing there in 4 weeks. I will return to Duluth, MN and be selling gas for $2/gal. I bet people would be lined up for 8 hours to get gas a dollar cheaper, lol.

If I remember right there was a big study on E85 showing that the net gain was negative. More fuel and resource was used in generating the crop, processing it to fuel, and the lower efficiency, than if you had done nothing at all.

I once drove off...after there wasn't anybody at the booth next to the islands, as there was supposed to be, people waiting. I went across the street, did my shopping and came back, where lady, in booth, had my purchase rcpt sitting there as a drive off. She asked... But I paid and went on my way, never intending to not pay. Just poor service, so I hope they got the point.

EdMcK515 said:   Buy gas in Venezula. $.12/gallon.

Shipping kills the deal.

CptSavAHo said:   If I remember right there was a big study on E85 showing that the net gain was negative. More fuel and resource was used in generating the crop, processing it to fuel, and the lower efficiency, than if you had done nothing at all.

I think the studies found that the environmental impact of E85 was worse than gasoline. Not the economic costs.

I doubt that giving money to foreigners to buy oil is better economically than giving it to our farmers.

+1 for the ethanol scam. Thank the farmers lobbyists. They love the demand.

CptSavAHo said:   If I remember right there was a big study on E85 showing that the net gain was negative. More fuel and resource was used in generating the crop, processing it to fuel, and the lower efficiency, than if you had done nothing at all.
Corn ethanol wasn't really a scam, at least not originally. You have to understand how it began.

During the Dust Bowl of the Great Depression, the U.S. suffered crop failures. So on top of the economic woes, food prices skyrocketed. The country vowed never again, and began subsidizing food production. This insured that every year there was an oversupply of food, and (by paying farmers not to plant crops) there was excess food production capacity which we could "turn on" to make up for shortfalls if it looked like a natural disaster might cause a shortage. This meant that every year, the U.S. had more corn than it needed (the #1 crop in the U.S.). When supply exceeds demand, prices fall. To prevent corn farmers from going bankrupt and jeopardizing production, the government began buying corn at a floor price which was above market price. Corn farmers could thus be guaranteed they'd receive $x/bushel and plan around that price to stay in business, even if left to its own devices the market would've set a lower price.

That's the rationale between the two biggest crop subsidies. How does this relate to ethanol? Well, since the government was buying all that corn, that meant after all Americans had eaten their fill of corn, there was still a lot left over. They had to figure out ways to use that extra corn. The first obvious use was feed for cattle. Then someone figured out you could convert it into fructose as a cane sugar substitute (and thus high fructose corn syrup was born). A lot of it is also given away as foreign aid.

But there was still a bunch left over. During the Arab oil embargo in the 1970s, someone in the government looked at all that extra corn and asked themselves, "I wonder if there's some way to convert it into fuel for cars?" And thus was born corn ethanol. Corn wasn't anywhere near as efficient a crop for ethanol production as sugar cane (which can only really grow in Florida and Hawaii) and sugar beets (which will grow pretty much anywhere). But that was beside the point becuase we had a bunch of extra corn sitting around which was otherwise going to grow moldy or feed rats.

So converting it into ethanol made sense even if the overall energy input exceeded the energy you got out from it. The energy put into growing the excess corn is a sunk cost - we were going to write it off anyway. So as long as the energy to convert it into ethanol is less than you get from burning the ethanol, it makes sense to do it. Only the energy needed to convert excess corn to ethanol matters; the energy which went into growing the corn in the first place isn't a factor.

But then the corn industry lobby got involved. And now a program which was originally intended for and made sense with excess corn, has been expanded to cover corn grown specifically for the purpose of converting it to ethanol. When you do that, the economics of it fall apart, and sugar beets make a lot more sense. But the government is paid for and bought by lobbyists, so we have a mutant corn ethanol program which no longer makes financial sense.

Get a bicycle.

You are correct OP in that you should be doing the grocery store thing. Here's my little cheat sheet.

personal use of gas (10,000-12,000 per 30 days max)
-------------------------
v/mc/AMEX			retail gc
500 card			500
505.95				470 blue
475.59 blue			-35 gas
-17.50 gas saved		435
458.09				13%(20% when 4x)
8.38%
--------------------------
100 card
105.95
99.59 blue
-14.83 gas during 4x
-7.42 during 2x
15.24% (4x)
7.83% (2x)
conclusion: buy $500 cards unless there is 4x promo, then buy $100 cards

I'll never understand why so many Americans are crazy about Costco. I do have a costco membership (gift) and I don't see much saving at all. The gas line is always super long 99% of the time. And Costco always seem very far out to me. Driving there alone will burn any saving on my purchase, I have done the calculation base on distance and my car's gas mileage. Costco gas need to be around 18cents cheaper to brake even with the near by gas stations. But usually costco gas is only 10cents cheaper, I think it's price is set on purpose. And again you are restricted to AMEX only or cash. Some gas station now give you 10cents lower if you use cash too. So basically with Costco you are not getting anything but pay more. Only saving is their roasticery chicken for $5, eggs, and milk. Everything else price is about the same and you have to buy in bulk.

Anyway, do your own calculations and decide. Don't go by the slogan.

For gas, use gasbuddy.com and look at the map around your area for all the gas price reported by people. Know before you go. Most of the price on there are accurate. But also careful, sometimes ppl report the cash price and CC price is about 10cents more.

just use your pend card, that is enough

jnheinz said:   EdMcK515 said:   Buy gas in Venezula. $.12/gallon.

My tanker is enroute. I will be landing there in 4 weeks. I will return to Duluth, MN and be selling gas for $2/gal. I bet people would be lined up for 8 hours to get gas a dollar cheaper, lol.


Don't let the bullets hit you on the way out.

WorkerAnt said:   I'll never understand why so many Americans are crazy about Costco. I do have a costco membership (gift) and I don't see much saving at all. The gas line is always super long 99% of the time. And Costco always seem very far out to me. Driving there alone will burn any saving on my purchase, I have done the calculation base on distance and my car's gas mileage. Costco gas need to be around 18cents cheaper to brake even with the near by gas stations. But usually costco gas is only 10cents cheaper, I think it's price is set on purpose. And again you are restricted to AMEX only or cash. Some gas station now give you 10cents lower if you use cash too. So basically with Costco you are not getting anything but pay more. Only saving is their roasticery chicken for $5, eggs, and milk. Everything else price is about the same and you have to buy in bulk.

Anyway, do your own calculations and decide. Don't go by the slogan.

For gas, use gasbuddy.com and look at the map around your area for all the gas price reported by people. Know before you go. Most of the price on there are accurate. But also careful, sometimes ppl report the cash price and CC price is about 10cents more.


I wasn't crazy about Costco. Since Costco used to do only 1% on their AMEX card, and I could get 5% back on gas on my Chase card, it was easier for me to just buy from a regular gas station. But lately, the differential between their prices and local prices is around 20cents per-gallon, Costco AMEX is at 3% back and Chase has gone to rotating categories. So overall, Costco ends up being cheaper.

When you talk about gas stations giving you 10cents discount for cash, you are definitely not factoring in credit card cashbacks. At $3.50 for gas, you get additional 3% from Costco AMEX - i.e. 10cents from Costco on top of their gas price. So that cash discount you were bragging out, not much of a discount relative to Costco.

Your point about driving out of the way to Costco/standing in lines is very valid. For me Costco is a very minor detour from my way to work. And I get there at 8AM on way to work - i.e. no lines. I don't get there at peak times - not worth the discount.

I agree with the Kroger/points/GC post above, but maximize it this time of year by buying Amazon GCs also, and pair those up with my prime account to do Christmas shopping, thus conserving my hard-won discount on gas.

Among all suggestions put forth, I believe that using penfed and grocery gas rewards is the best bet. However, I earn only 5 cents reward for every $50 in groceries. Thus, this option isn't always optimal since I don't buy groceries as fast as I consume fuel. Gas here is around $3.30 and I currently have .35 in gas rewards. So with 5% back on 2.95 means I'm paying around $2.80/gal. So when my grocery gas rewards are high, I will use that option.

However, I often have no grocery gas rewards available since they expire quickly and I don't buy enough groceries. Thus, I believe the second-best option is the 10 cents off the top at costco stacked with the 4% rewards from the trueearnings AMEX card. I just got approved for this card and will use this as my second-choice plan. Costco gas is around 10 cents off per gallon, which is around $3.20. If I get 4% CashBack I'm paying around $3.07/gal.

It is true my costco is not very close to me, but it is on the way to places I frequently go. In addition, I have a few 5 gallon gas cans I can fill for the car I leave at home and maybe get some food or a polish sausage to make the stop worth my while.

The whole E85 thing sounds like its not the best option and doesn't apply to me since I don't have a "flexfuel" vehicle, which I believe is necessary.

And my response to everyone suggesting I drive off or siphon off my neighbor's gas. That is a TERRIBLE idea. If you are going to break the law, you may as well steal the car and siphon the gas in the safety of your own garage, and later get a couple hundred bucks from a scrapyard for the car to cover up your crime. common people, think big and don't get caught!

This was discussed a few months ago - http://www.fatwallet.com/forums/finance/1172483/

I try to use my BoA card + Giant Grocery points (similar to Kroger).

Solandri said:   Cratos said:   E85 biofuel. where I live it's 3.15 vs almost 3.80-4 for regular gas (almost $20 difference on tankful)
just make sure your car is compatible (few are),

E85 ethanol has 27% less energy per gallon than gasoline. So while you're paying $3.15 per gallon, on a per mile traveled basis you're paying the equivalent of $4.31 gas.

Or put another way, if you fill a 15 gallon tank with E85 at $3.15/gallon, you'd pay $47.25. But that tank will only take you as far as 10.95 gallons of gasoline. 10.95 gallons of gasoline would've cost you $43.76 at $4/gallon.


What do you mean by "Sometimes there is an extra bonus like on Black Friday."?

While I agree Costco is not the cheapest ... I'm with PrincipalMember in that I get gas before work (typically around 7 AM) and there are never lines, plus more gas for the money.

Jewel groceries (Supervalu chain) in Chicago are now (well in July, I'm just paying attention now) offering 10c/gal off on $50, redeemable at Shell. For a 17 gallon tank like my SUV, it's an extra 3.4% Cash Back on gift cards, less the fact that Shell is generally not the cheapest option in the western suburbs compared to Speedway and Thornton's. (FWF members know better than to actually buy large quantities of food at Jewel.)

For me, because grocery store purchases are not an emphasis for me (compared to Target/WalMart/meijer/Costco superstores/warehouses), I don't have a 5% grocery card. So to add my 2.25% SPG AMEX to 3.4% is only 5.65%, which compared to just getting 5% with my Chase Freedom and not having to find a cheap Shell station makes it not quite worth the effort.

I agree with Penfed card, you can save a lot!

sunspotzsz said:   What do you mean by "Sometimes there is an extra bonus like on Black Friday."?

Discover Card offered a 2% Cash Back bonus on all Black Friday purchases.

brettdoyle said:   The absolute lowest price would be to fill up your tank and drive off, while not paying anything. If you can find a gas station that lets you pump before you pay which used to be the norm.

Or get a siphon hose and a 5 gallon container. Take them to a parking lot and enjoy!

jnheinz said:   dcwilbur said:   LiquidSilver said:   jnheinz said:   You can talk about the amount of energy in the fuel, but you can't say how it will perform in an unknown user's car. He may have a brand new Ford with FFV, or he may be like me and have a 97 Taurus FFV. Newer cars, it will be better -- Older cars, much worse.Newer may or may not be better, I don't think you can make that claim. All the studies I have seen have E85 between 24%-30% less efficient than standard gas. From personal experience my 2005 Nissan Titan got about 25% less mpg with E85. It seems pretty fair to use 27% as a baseline figure.

Using your example of a 2012 Ford with FFV (an auto focus). With gas it gets 28/40. With E85 it gets 20/28. That is 29% and 30% worse mpg with E85.
A 2000 Taurus (couldn't find data on a '06) get with gas 17/26, and with E85 it get 12/19. So 29% and 27% worse mpg on E85.

So newer is not always better. But E85 will always be worse, and always roughly around 27% worse, give or take a few percent.

Link to all 2012 vehicles mpg with E85
About 25% worse in my Suburban. We ran one tank of E85 through it a few years ago - never again. Corn is for eating!


I just e-mailed my wife -- we're done buying E85 as well. I hope the trend continues through the populace of America.


Hate to mention politics, but its only going to get worse, as the pols use e85 as the way to buy the farmers and farm states votes. EPA just turned down a request by several states to cut back the escalating requirement for ethanol in gasoline. Never going to happen as there are too many bribes and votes at stake.

At Kroger you can buy Shell gift cards for 4X the points (at least currently you can). You can redeem points for up to $2.00 off per gallon.
In the Great Lakes area you can use your Kroger points at Shell stations. So, you go to Kroger, buy Shell gift cards, get 4X the points and immediately redeem them at a Shell station.


For Example -
Buy $50 in Shell cards to save 20 per gallon (50x4=200 points; 200 points = 20 off per gallon).

Kroger 4X Fuel Points Promo
http://giftcards.kroger.com/

PrincipalMember said:   
I wasn't crazy about Costco. Since Costco used to do only 1% on their AMEX card, and I could get 5% back on gas on my Chase card, it was easier for me to just buy from a regular gas station. But lately, the differential between their prices and local prices is around 20cents per-gallon, Costco AMEX is at 3% back and Chase has gone to rotating categories. So overall, Costco ends up being cheaper.

When you talk about gas stations giving you 10cents discount for cash, you are definitely not factoring in credit card cashbacks. At $3.50 for gas, you get additional 3% from Costco AMEX - i.e. 10cents from Costco on top of their gas price. So that cash discount you were bragging out, not much of a discount relative to Costco.

Your point about driving out of the way to Costco/standing in lines is very valid. For me Costco is a very minor detour from my way to work. And I get there at 8AM on way to work - i.e. no lines. I don't get there at peak times - not worth the discount.


I did calculate in the Cash Back and my distant to costco and my car mpg see how much money I use to get there and stuff. All done in Excel and the local gas station gets better final price. But I do go costco now and than for the chicken and get gas while at it if the line is not too long.

anyway, do your own calculations. Google map can give you the distant, Gasbuddy.com can give you the local gas station and prices.



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