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Gas Rewards Programs Compared

Almost everyone needs to buy gas and I suspect most Canadians have participated in a rewards program affiliated with their favourite brand. But, are these rewards actually worthwhile? Are you getting a half decent return on your spending and, more importantly, do these rewards deserve your precious loyalty?

In fact, some of these programs DO provide half-decent value while others probably aren’t worth the time it takes to collect them. You’d be better off focusing on all the other ways to save on gas. I’ve done an analysis to separate the wheat from the chaff and the results are below ordered roughly form best to worst.

1) Grocery Store Gas Bars (Grocery Store Discount Coupons)

Typical Return: 2.7%

Max Return: 8.1% (select locations in Alberta and possibly elsewhere)

Several gas bars give you a discount at the grocery store when you fill up. In my region, Superstore affiliated stations (branded Refuel or At The Pumps) give you 3.5 cents/L off your next grocery store purchase. At today’s prices that’s a roughly 2.7% return on spending.

Sobeys also has their Fast Fuel locations with a similar 3.5¢/L rebate. In addition I’ve seen the same 3.5¢/L discount at Co-op but I’ve also seen them double it to 7.0¢/L, but not always.

In other parts of Canada where oil is justifiably cheaper, like Alberta, these rebates can be much higher. I’ve heard stories of discounts as high as 10.5¢/L by using your PC MasterCard and at Co-op in Calgary, which works out to an 8.1% return. In extremely rare cases coupon values can even soar as high as 15¢/L, but that isn’t obtainable for most people.

Check with grocery store affiliated gas bars in your area and see what kind of discount they offer you.

2) Canadian Tire Gas Bars (Canadian Tire Money)

Typical Return: 2.6% (with 10x multiplier coupon)

Max Return: 3.8% (with 15x multiplier coupon)

You can earn Canadian Tire Money (CTM) while pumping at one of their stations and although that might not sound very enticing at first to all except die hard Canadian Tire fans, it can pay off with it a little work.

To get an optimal return on your spending, here’s what you do:

  1. Buy a Canadian Tire gift card either online, in-store, or at the gas bar itself with your credit card to earn rewards or cash back. If you buy it at the gas bar, you should get the gas bonus on your credit card if it has one.
  2. Use the gift card to buy your fuel so that you qualify to earn CTM. Credit card purchases do not qualify for the phony money, but gift cards do.
  3. Pick up a multiplier coupon either in-store near the checkout or customer service, at the back of the flyer delivered to your home, or print it online.
  4. Pump your gas and collect your CTM when you pay with your gift card and give them your multiplier coupon.
  5. Once you’ve collected a reasonably large amount of CTM, take it in-store and use it to buy a gift card for the exact amount of CTM you have.
  6. Use the gift card purchased with your CTM to buy even more gasoline and collect more CTM.

How much is all this hassle worth?

Well, I’ll ignore the savings from your credit card because that depends on which card you have and it isn’t specific to Canadian Tire. I think the lowest multiplier coupon they offer is 6x and the highest is 15x but anything above 10x is pretty rare and frequently reserved for Canadian Tire Options MasterCard cardholders (not really a good credit card – don’t bother).

At 6x with a 60L fill up you will get $1.20 in rewards working out to a 1.5% return on spending at today’s gas prices. At 10x that increases to $2.00 and a 2.6% return, which we’ll call the average or typical expected return. If you’re lucky and score a 15x coupon, that works out to a 3.8% return. Not too shabby.

3) Esso (Esso Extra or Aeroplan)

Typical Return: 1.5% (regular fuel redeeming for car washes)

Max Return: 9% (supreme gas with 2x bonus applied)

Esso has some of the best rewards earning opportunities available and is the only gas station that I know of to offer 2 distinct rewards programs – you can choose to earn either Esso Extra points or Aeroplan miles. You will earn 1 esso extra point per 1L purchased or 1 Aeroplan mile for every 3L.

But how much is that worth?

Well, in my guide to Aeroplan, I have pegged the value of 1 Aeroplan mile at 2.8 cents which is the rough value you get when redeeming your miles for a flight coast to coast across Canada (25,000 miles for a $700 flight before taxes and fees). Comparatively, I value an Esso Extra point at about 2 cents which is the approximate value received when redeeming your points for a regular car wash (499 points for a $10 wash).

With some easy math, you can see that works out to 2 cents in rewards per litre purchased with Esso Extra and less than a cent for Aeroplan. Plus, it’s a lot easier to save up 499 points for a car wash than it is to save 25,000 miles for a free flight when buying gas. We have credit card sign up bonuses for that after all.

At today’s prices, that works out to about a 1.5% return on your spending.

If you’re buying premium, then that triples to a 4.5% return and if they are having a 2x points promo you can go as high as a 9% – not bad!

I’ve ranked Esso higher than some of the other options with a slightly better typical return because they have many stations nationwide, they offer flexibility in terms of rewards, and they have a high max return percentage.

4) 7-11 (Big Bucks)

Typical Return: 2.6%

Select 7-11 stores seem to have a rewards program that gives you $1 in 7-11 Big Bucks for every 30L of gas you buy. I don’t believe this is offered at every station though, so you’ll have to check with your local 7-11 and see if they have it.

Unfortunately, the $1 MUST be spent in a 7-11 so that really limits your reward opportunities. However, apparently some stores will let you buy prepaid credit cards with the big bucks allowing you to use them to buy things at any store. If you fill up in 30L increments, this works out to a 2.6% return on spending.

I’m ranking 7-11 below some other options because of limited availability and limited reward redemption options.

5) Husky (myHusky Rewards & CAA Dollars)

Typical Return: 2.4% (regular fuel, redeeming for car wash, including CAA dollars)

Max Return: 3.6% (supreme gas, redeeming for car washes, including CAA dollars)

Husky locations have the unique advantage that you can earn two types of rewards simultaneously on the same fill up. First, you can earn myHusky Rewards which accrue at 1 point/L on regular and 2 points/L on supreme. They can be redeemed for gasoline discounts, gift cards, coffees, car washes, and a whole host of other items through their online catalog.

The most typical reward would be to redeem for gas, which gives you a return on spending of 0.5% for regular and 1.0% on supreme. If you redeem for a regular car wash (approx $10 value), then your return on spending increases to 1.2% or 2.4%. It works out to about the same percentages if you use your rewards for coffee.

However, your value increases if you are a CAA member because you also earn up to 1.5¢/L in CAA dollars. You have to purchase 250L/month to qualify for the maximum accrual rate which is doable for many. You can then use your CAA dollars as a discount on your annual CAA membership among other things. That’s an additional 1.2% return on spending for a combined return on spending of roughly 2.4%.

6) Ultramar (Reveal-A-Deal and ValuMax)

Typical Return: 1.5% (Ultramax card in Atlantic Canada)

Max Return: 3.8% (Reveal-A-Deal mostly in Quebec)

Ultramar appears to have very region and time-specific promotions for their rewards. They have both the Reveal-A-Deal summer promotion (focused on Quebec but also available in ON, NB, NS, and PEI) and the ValuMax card only available in the atlantic provinces.

Reveal-A-Deal used to be a coupon book you would either get in the mail or order online through their website that would contain coupons of various values with a minimum 25L purchase of gasoline. Coupon values ranged from $1-$2 each with a total value per book of $8-$10. If you could get your hands on multiple books, you could always use the $2 coupons for maximum value.

In 2014, they changed it (at least in Quebec) so you would get an electronic card when shopping at Metro grocery stores that would randomly give you your discount when swiping your card while topping up at Ultramar. With this new system, it is no longer possible to choose which discount you get and ignore the smaller ones. You still get $10 in total value out of each card, but you can’t cherry pick your deal anymore. So if you always fill up in 25L increments to maximize value, you get a return on spending of 3.8%. However, since Reveal-A-Deal only happens seasonally, it’s hard to call this return “typical”.

Alternatively, the ValuMax card gives you a straight 2¢/L cents if you fill up with a minimum of 25L. Anything under that and it is 1¢/L. At today’s price that’s a return on spending of 1.5%.

7) Shell (Air Miles)

Typical Return: 0.4%

Max Return: 4.1% (supreme gas with 10x bonus applied)

Canadians love Air Miles and the fact that you earn them at Shell is a big draw to fuel up there – but is it actually worth it?

You earn 1 mile on your first $20 in purchases (including gas) and additional miles are earned at the rate of 1 mile for every $30 in purchases. Yup, that’s right, the earning potential gets worse the more you buy … bogus, I know. That alone annoys me so much I am loath to fill my tank there.

So if you buy $80 in gas and other stuff, that will net you 3 miles. How much is that worth? 33 whole cents (if you use Air Miles cash as your reward). WOW! CHA-CHING! That’s a whopping0.4% return on spending if you manage to pump exactly $80.

If it’s that pathetic then why would anyone bother? Well, fortunately, they redeem themselves by offering up to 10x the miles during bonus periods. In fact, there is one going on now on V-Power fuel. I buy supreme anyway for reasons I won’t get into here, so that ups the reward to $3.33 on $80 spent making it a respectable 4.1% return on spending.

8) Petro Canada (Petro Points)

Typical Return: 0.5%

Max Return: 3.1% (exactly 250L of supreme in 1 month combined with Petro Points MasterCard)

I tried collecting Petro Points for a while but I had to give up eventually because it took a crazy long time to earn enough for a reward. I think just saved enough points to get a $10 gas card and then I quit the program for good.

However, apparently there are some ways to maximize the program that improve it somewhat.

Here’s how you earn:

  • 5 points/L on Regular.
  • 7 points/L on Plus.
  • 10 points/L on Supreme/Ultra.
  • 20 points/L on car washes and in-store purchases.
  • 750 bonus points when you purchase 150-249L/month.
  • 1000 bonus points when you purchase 250+L/month.

The best value for redemption is a basic car wash, similar to Esso Extra. I’m valuing that at $10, but it could be higher or lower in some regions. So, at today’s prices that works out to a 0.5% return on spending. If you jump up to supreme, then you’re looking at a 1% return. If you qualify for the 1000 bonus points and you buy exactly 250L of gas, then your return would be 1.5%. If you use the no-fee Petro Points MasterCard on top of that you’re looking at a 3.1% discount.

One interesting redemption option for Petro Points that may result in higher returns is transferring them to Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and then redeeming them for flights. If you have an Asia Miles airline that flies out of your airport, this might be something to consider.

9) Pioneer (Bonus Bucks)

Typical Return: 0.6%

Max Return: 1.8% (supreme)

Pioneer gas stations have a straightforward rewards program that gives you a certain amount of bonus bucks for every 10L in fuel you purchase. It works out to be slightly less than 1¢/L, which can be spent on future fill ups or anything in-store.

To calculate rewards return, I’ll use a typical 60L fill up of regular gas. That results in 50 cents in rewards on a $78 purchase, which is a return on spending of 0.6%. However, you get a 3x bonus on supreme/platinum jumping it up to a return of 1.8%.

10) Irving (Air Miles)

Typical Return: 0.4%

Max Return: 2.1% (with 5x bonus applied)

Irving, a big provider of oil and gas in Atlantic Canada, recently got into the Air Miles game and their standard earning rate is 1 mile per 20L pumped vs the 1 mile per $20-$30 spent at Shell.

However, I wouldn’t rank them as highly as Shell because at today’s prices their accrual rate is lower and gets even worse as the price of gas rises. They do have the rare 5x bonus miles promotion as well, but they are few and far between. Shell’s promotions are much more frequent.

At the regular accrual rate, that works out to roughly a 0.4% return on spending if fill up at 20L increments. At the 5x rate, it increases to 2.1%.

11) Chevron (More Rewards)

Typical Return: 0.23%

Max Return: 0.64% (redeeming for upgrading Big White gift cards)

Chevron is a More Rewards partner, the same rewards that are famously linked to Save On Foods grocery stores. You earn 1 More Rewards point for every $1 you spend at Chevron.

In my previous article about More Rewards you can see that 1 More Rewards point ranges in value from 0.07 cents to 0.83 cents. A fairly typical and obtainable value would be 0.3 cents, so I’ll use that for calculations. At today’s prices that works out to a return on spending of about 0.23%. The maximum return is upgrading Big White gift cards (ski hill), which gives a return of 0.64%.

 

Where Do You Buy Your Gas?

Everyone has their own reasons for fueling up at particular place, so what’s your reason for buying where you do? I’m sure I missed a few brands as well and I’d love to hear about those in the comments.

About the Author: Stephen Weyman is passionate about saving money and writes practical guides to help you save money on everything you buy and do over at HowToSaveMoney.ca.

If you would like to read more articles like this, you can sign up for my free newsletter service below (we will not spam you).

About the author: This is a guest post. You can read more about the author in the biography above.

{ 42 comments… add one }
  • Daryl November 10, 2014, 12:14 pm

    I buy most of my gas from my local Co-op which returns 7.5% equity on gas. At the end of every year I receive 20% of my current year equity and 3% of my total equity paid out. The 7.5% does change a little from year to year but usually sits around there.

    The other place I buy gas from is Costco. If you hit Costco on the right day you can get some really steep discounts, up to 10¢/l on some days. At a bare minimum you get 4¢/l off of any other price in the area.

  • A.Z. November 10, 2014, 1:23 pm

    To add to the already excellent esso program, buy your supreme on Thursdays and get another 3 cents off, adding another 2-3% return. $100 of gas gets me $4 back on my scotia momentum visa, plus 600 esso extra points worth $13.50 when exchanged for a luxury car wash, and $2.40 off supreme on Thursdays.

    You can also stack this with the price privileges program which gives you 2.5 cents off per liter for 40 litres, after you buy 100 litres. Total reward: $20.90 on $100 spend.

  • mary anne November 10, 2014, 1:39 pm

    Don’t know the %value but I use the Esso Speedpass so my gas gets charged to my Bay card. I earn both Bay and Esso Extra points on every purchase. Plus the Speedpass is so convenient!

  • Warren W November 10, 2014, 3:31 pm

    My town doesn’t have Esso or Store gas bars, so I’m limited to Chevron or Petro-Canada 7/11. Using CIBC Aerogold works well, as instore purchases (lottery Cards & Pay as you go phone vouchers also earn the 1.5 Aeroplan points plus the 20 petro points per $1.
    Signing up for Petro-Can surveys usually add on 1000 points per month too. I only use the points to get the 5¢ & 7¢ per litre gas discount. I agree that the other ‘rewards’ are useless.

    I am sure that everyone is aware that Amex is pushing their Costco replacement card and is offering 5% cash back for the first 6 months.

  • Stephen @ How To Save Money November 10, 2014, 3:44 pm

    @Daryl
    Co-op definitely has one of the better deals. Costco is another great place. I mentioned it in my ways to save money on gas article but not here because it isn’t really a rewards program.

    @A.Z.
    Esso really is excellent because you can stack so many savings together. I mention the exact combination you are talking about in my ways to save money on gas article and I often do exactly what you mentioned myself in addition to a 2 cents per litre VIP discount that I also get.

    @mary anne
    Yes, speedpass is a nice quick way to pay. You might consider picking up a better credit card for earning gas rewards though. The bay card isn’t really competitive in that regard. I wrote about the best credit cards for gas discounts here:
    http://www.howtosavemoney.ca/best-credit-cards-for-gas-discounts

  • nobleea November 10, 2014, 4:01 pm

    Superstore is usually the cheapest pump price to begin with, and then the 3.5c/L cash back (or store credit) is nice on top of that. Other things I like about superstore gas is that almost always someone forgot their receipt in the gas pump, so that usually doubles the store credit I get (the store credit prints out on the receipt).
    In your calculations you also have to keep in mind what the reward is worth to you. For example, some stations you can redeem for a fancy car wash worth 10-20$. But a car wash is worth 5-6$ to me, what I would pay at the coin wand wash for a better wash.

  • A.Z. November 10, 2014, 4:56 pm

    @stephen what is the 2 cents/litre vip?

  • SST November 10, 2014, 9:24 pm

    You can also hold shares in Suncor (SU), Exxon (XOM), Shell (RDS), and Chevron (CVX) and then buy gas only at PetroCan, Esso, Shell, Chevron, or Exxon.

    That way you are getting a 3.5% dividend plus any capital gain and your gas station options are numerous.

  • My Own Advisor November 11, 2014, 9:45 am

    Nice one SST.

    I typically use Shell or Esso as much as possible. If those gas prices are too high, I go with MacEwen around the corner from me.

    Great post and details.

  • Stephen Weyman November 11, 2014, 10:13 am

    @nobleea
    Around here the price is almost always identical from station to station. Never thought of nabbing other people’s unwanted receipts to get an extra grocery discount :) You can definitely get a car wash for less than $10 if you look hard enough, but that seems to be the price that most places charge and people definitely do pay that much so I ran with it.

    @A.Z.
    The where I purchased my Hyundai Sanate Fe has a partnership with specific gas stations in my area. You get a VIP discount card and it gives you a 2 cents per litre discount at those stations on top of any other discounts you may have.

    @SST
    It’s like owning Canadian bank stock eh? You can’t go wrong!

    @My Own Advisor
    That’s the first I’d heard of MacEwen actually. Do they have a rewards program?

  • Mark Lancester November 12, 2014, 10:17 am

    Thanks @SST

    My choice is Shell or Exxon. If gas prices too high at this 2 places, then I probably go with Esso. Nice post and details anyway..

  • SST November 12, 2014, 11:21 am

    Personally, I’d much rather have the dividend cash than “points” redeemable for car washes, groceries, Air Miles, etc. Figure out how much you spend on gas a year (I spend about $1,000), invest the equivalent in the the above stocks (equal weighting; w/in TFSA), then apply your dividends to fill-ups.

    Also wondering, does the CRA have any rulings about point and/or cash-back cards?

  • Stephen Weyman November 13, 2014, 3:16 pm

    @SST

    I’m not sure I really understand how your strategy is an alternative to maximizing your gas rewards. With your strategy you need extra money lying around to invest in corporations. Then, sure you can use those dividends to buy gas if you want but it isn’t likely to pay for your entire gas bill (you’d need a LOT of money invested for that).

    Why not invest in those companies if that fits your investing strategy and you have them money and additionally earn the best rewards you can while filling up your tank? It isn’t like it’s a one or the other type of choice.

    As far as I know there are currently no rulings for consumers earning points or cash back. Here is the applicable page I found on the CRA website:

    http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/bsnss/tpcs/pyrll/bnfts/lylty/menu-eng.html

  • Elbyron November 13, 2014, 4:51 pm

    When I read that your typical return on a “more rewards” point was 3 cents/point I had to go check out your other article to see how on earth you were getting more than 100 times better redemption than I was. Turns out, your math is wrong. It’s actually off by a factor of 100. Using your “Big White” example, redeeming 3000 points for a $25 discount should be calculated as: 2500 cents / 3000 points = 0.83 cents per point. Not 8.3 cents/point. All your other calculations were similarly wrong, and the $5 bag of potatoes for 1800 points is actually 0.27, not 1.67 (I have no idea where you got that from).
    But I still found your article to be valuable, as I had no idea that the gift cards would have better redemption value than the in-store redemption options I’ve typically used. At the cashier they always ask “would you like to redeem X points to save Y dollars off item Z?” or sometimes it’s redeem to get a free item, like your potatoes example. Actually they never tell me what Y is, I always have to ask, and then do the math in my head really quick to see what value I’m getting. About 50% of the time the value is 500 points per dollar, or 0.2 cents per point – although this valuation is getting harder to find lately. Getting any better than that is very rare, so I usually agree to that valuation. Since redeeming for merchandise and gift cards is usually really bad value for other programs, I never even considered that option for save-on-more points. I’ll certainly look into it and see if there’s any gift cards that might be useful to me!

    Regarding gas points, I’m one of the lucky few that has a nearby Superstore gas station offering 10.5 cents/litre worth of superbucks when I use a PC Financial Credit OR DEBIT CARD.

  • Stephen @ How To Save Money November 13, 2014, 6:27 pm

    @Elbyron

    That particular post was written by a guest author who is very knowledgeable on the subject so I just trusted the math without double checking it because we don’t even have Save On Foods in my area. I’ll take a look into it and get back to you. I’ll also update the article if necessary.

    Thanks for pointing it out!

  • Stephen @ How To Save Money November 13, 2014, 7:45 pm

    @Elbyron

    Ok, I went through and checked the numbers and it looks like they were off by a factor of 10. That means that this article also needs to be updated to lower Chevron in the rankings substantially. I’ll email FrugalTrader and see if he will update it for me.

  • D November 14, 2014, 12:13 am

    I used to drive a gas car over three years ago, but I realized that even if you save a little, it still costs a lot to buy gas. So I purchased an electric car back then and have been saving ever since. In 2013 I drove 17140km. That’s a little over 1400km each month on average. I paid only $25.20 per month on average for electricity and $0 for gas because my car doesn’t use it. My car doesn’t need oil changes ever, no emission tests, etc. I only need some inexpensive maintenance ONCE per year. Insurance is also a bit less too.

    Instead of trying to save on gas, why not try not having to buy any? It cost less than 2 cents per km to drive an electric vehicle, and gas will never be that cheap.

  • SST November 14, 2014, 4:27 am

    @Stephen W — your proposed “gas rewards” are not rewards for gas.

    They are “rewards” of grocery coupons, car washes, Air Miles, ski tickets, Big Gulps, etc., etc. And none of the posted typical “returns” match the proposed dividend strategy of 3.5%.

    I want cash or gas as a reward. Period.

    My strategy sees a gas purchaser investing in the companies from which he purchases, i.e. driving their sales which results in an increase in both stock price (capital gain) and dividends paid amounts (cash/income).

    These real cash amounts can be utilized to purchase actual gas.

    As for having “extra money lying around to invest in corporations”…don’t insult the collective intelligence. Match your investment amount to your consumption amount — for me it would be ~$1,000 (more if you want to buy hundred-lots). If you haven’t managed to save $1,000 in your lifetime then you have no business even owning a vehicle let alone penning personal finance articles.

    Leaving out the substantial cap gains for now, here’s the true reward for buying gas from companies of which you own stock:

    Dividend Increases (2007-2014)
    Shell — +4%/yr
    Suncor — +15%/yr
    Exxon — +10%/yr
    Chevron — +9%/yr
    Average — +9.5%/yr

    Using my rewards strategy I get almost 10% more in free gas per year simply by investing in the companies from which I buy. (FYI, Superstore etc. buy gas from one of the above companies.)

    Add the +8%/yr average cap gains to the 9.5%/yr dividend growth, over the last seven years my gas rewards have grown 17.5% per year on average.

    Are car wash and Air Mile rewards increasing 18% per year to better the return of real cash?

    The other thing you have not calculated is the rising price of gasoline, currently at +4%/yr (10-year). Thus if your reward points aren’t increasing with the cost of gasoline (and groceries), you are losing. Comparing the increase in gas prices to the increase in dividends paid, I’m still ahead an additional 5% in free gas every year.

    Finally, I see on your web site your #1 way to save on gas is to utilize a credit card with a “gas bonus”. If you actually think you are saving money by using a credit card I suggest you do some research on how the credit card business operates and its true net result. Hopefully some heavy editing ensues.

    TGIF

  • SST November 14, 2014, 4:50 am

    p.s. — also no math/research done on the whole “Supreme Thursdays” thing (hint: your vehicle does not require “supreme” gasoline!).
    Using my local pumps, the spread between regular and supreme is $0.13/L (11.5%). This means spending $.10/L in order to save $0.03/L.
    Even out East where it’s a tighter differential, you are still paying to “save”.

    Brilliant.

  • FrugalTrader FrugalTrader November 14, 2014, 9:00 am

    @D, what kind of electric vehicle do you drive? I’ve been reading a bit about those, the Nissan Leaf sounds like the best bang for your buck for city driving.

  • nobleea November 14, 2014, 2:44 pm

    SST, again, you’re not making sense.
    We’re talking about rewards programs from buying gas. The rewards are available whether you buy the dividend paying stocks of the suppliers or not. As has been pointed out, you’re mixing up the two concepts.
    It’s like saying I don’t want aeroplan points on the flights I take since I bought the AC or Jazz stock instead. You can do both.
    Or buying your gas at superstore and them refusing to take your receipt with the superbucks cash coupon because you get dividends from the gas suppliers instead.. Maybe you’re the guy who always leaves it in the machine.

  • SST November 14, 2014, 9:32 pm

    Not sure why anyone would buy an electric car simply for city driving.

    1) You are buying a new car, clearly in flagrant disregard of all frugal rules and regulations. I wouldn’t even think about buying a used electric unless it was priced exponentially according to battery life.

    2) If city driving is your purpose for the vehicle, buy a used gas-powered compact for $5,000 instead of a new electric for $40,000. Both will last 10 years and you’ll save a good $10-$15,000.

    3) If the environment is your thing, combustion and EVs are running about the same. If you really want to do everyone a favour, buy a classic car c.1960’s. Their $/mile and environmental footprint has long since been minimized, and if they have been well taken care of, running and maintenance is dirt cheap (read lo-tech).

    For those of you who haven’t clued in, electric vehicles are road candy for the well-to-do; why do you think Musk designed the Tesla business model the way he did?

    As for the “rewards”, I’m not mixing up anything. People are choosing to buy gas from vendors based on the perceived rewards they receive.

    I am choosing to buy gas from vendors based on owning shares of companies and supporting their profits (and my profit) by choosing to buy their product.

    For me it’s not worth the 0.5% return ($5/yr) to sign up for programs which make me chase pennies and force me to redeem in very controlled ways, e.g. at 7-11, Super Store, etc. Air Miles is is the only thing of real value, yet it takes an excruciatingly long time to attain that value.

    I’d rather just make a one-time lump sum investment, let it balloon over the next decade, and not play the nickel-and-dime game every two weeks. My time is far more valuable. Guess we all pick and choose our frugalities.

    I also hope you realize all these “rewards” are nothing more than advertising schemes; you’re paying their profit (and mine — thanks!) one way or another.

  • D November 15, 2014, 8:58 pm

    If one could only pay $5000 for a used car and drive it for 10 more years without any problems. Miracles can occur for some drivers I suppose. Over 10 years that gas car will need 5 emissions tests, one or more new mufflers, at least 30 to 40 oil changes, etc., etc. That kind of service is never needed for an electric car. The motor requires zero maintenance.

    At $2000 per year (assuming gas doesn’t rise at all in 10 years), there’s another $20,000 gone in fuel. In reality it will likely cost much more.

    My gas car was near 14 years old when I switched to electric (Nissan LEAF). That gas car was well maintained, but cost $37,000 in gas and maintenance over it’s final 7 years. Buying an electric car was cash flow positive from day one and will eventually pay for itself from savings. My wife used to spend nearly $1000 per year on bus tickets, now it’s closer to $150 because it’s so much cheaper to drive without needing gas. Another $800+ per year saved. I did the math on this long before buying one.

  • Le Barbu November 16, 2014, 8:42 am

    D, I own 2 “10 years Old/5k car” and drive 16,000km/year + bike 2,000km/year. Maintenance & repairs ~ 800$ and gas 1,700$. Over 10 years, it sum to 25,000$

    Buy small, manual reliable used cars, drive less, bike more and save. Electric cars, if you do the maths proprely, are the best for taxi driver. Still to expensive (if bought new at least) !

  • SST November 16, 2014, 11:24 am

    @D — Guess our maths are different.

    Used ICE vehicle = $5,000
    Gas ((10×30)x(1.3×43)) = $17,000
    Maintenance = $8,000
    Total ICE Cost = $30,000
    LEAF Cost
    Base Model = $32,000
    SL Model = $39,000
    Savings = $2-$9,000 minimum

    The same LEAF dealership is selling a used 2008 Accent for $7K, 54K kms. You would easily crank out another 10 years in this car for less than $30,000 total cost. No wonder Elon is rich. Once he starts selling direct and chops 75% off the price of a Tesla, then I might buy one.

    My current vehicle is a 99 Infiniti QX4 (a Nissan product). Bought used w/ 95K kms, paid $9,000. $1K/yr in gas, $1K/yr in maintenance. I’ll be able to drive that thing for at least another 10 years ~$30,000. Also factor in resale value of a couple thousand bucks a decade from now; who knows what you’ll get for an electric contraption. Not only that, but I can stuff the back with all my frugal Wal-Mart/Costco crap, tie the Christmas tree to the roof, and tow a trailer full of junk to the dump all at the same time — try that with an electric!

    Too bad your ICE cost you so much during its final years. Either you drove the heck out of it something was terribly wrong.

    I don’t worry about gas prices, as previously mentioned, I’m hedged by owning oil producing/gas refining dividend paying assets.

  • Stephen @ How To Save Money November 17, 2014, 10:20 am

    @SST

    You’re clearly knowledgeable and informed and I believe you’ve been posting at Million Dollar Journey for along time as I think I recall seeing your posts years ago. That said, I have no idea why you feel the need to take such an aggressive tone with me and others.

    You label us all as little kids making foolish mistakes, when most of us here at MDJ know exactly what we’re doing and why. For instance, I’m not insulting anyone’s intelligence by stating that some people may not have $1000 lying around to invest. I write for the entire Canadian population, not just those that are older and invest in the stock market. Some people will never invest in the stock market in their entire lives. The only one insulting people here is you.

    If rewards programs aren’t for you, that’s fine. This is NOT a post about investing. People should invest in what makes sense for them according to their investing strategy and risk profile. If oil and gas companies fit into your investing strategy, then great! Almost everyone with a car needs to buy gas but not everyone should invest in oil and gas companies. I’m not the only person trying to tell you that investing has nothing to do with rewards.

    I invest in MSFT and buy and believe in MSFT products, but I’d be a fool to think that my individual purchases are more than a drop in the bucket to MSFTs bottom line. My purchasing won’t impact my dividend from them in any noticeable way and neither will your gas purchases significantly impact your dividends from oil and gas companies.

    If you don’t want to “chase pennies” and be bothered with rewards, again your decision. That doesn’t change the fact that these rewards can be valuable. I know exactly how the credit card system works and I’d be fine abolishing it, but while it’s here I’m also fine maximizing it for myself and letting those that pay with cash and debit subsidize me and shoulder increased risk of fraud and theft. Not using a credit card to reap the rewards is like choosing to pay a higher price for everything you buy.

    I’ll keep taking luxury vacations and flying around the world for free and enjoying my free car washes, groceries, and thousands of dollars in free products a year at Shoppers Drug Mart while you keep trying to pay for your gas bill with dividends. I’ll reinvest my dividends and buy more stock, thanks!

    @FrugalTrader
    I’m sorry this has degenerated into a flame war. I probably shouldn’t feed the trolls so I won’t be responding to SST any further. I couldn’t have imagined this post would evoke such a passionate response from anyone.

  • SST November 17, 2014, 11:14 am

    re: “For instance, I’m not insulting anyone’s intelligence by stating that some people may not have $1000 lying around to invest.”

    Yes, you are.
    And if they don’t, then perhaps they should cease filling their car with un-frugal premium fuel and start saving.

  • nobleea November 17, 2014, 12:21 pm

    Well said Stephen! Spot on in all cases.

  • Az November 17, 2014, 3:08 pm

    This was a great discussion until sst ruined it. He just sounds angry and bitter, not to mention incoherent. I own shares in several of the companies discussed, but that does not preclude me from also benefiting from discounts and rewards on the gas I purchase for my own consumption. I don’t see why this is an either or situation to him. How is using a credit card that I pay off in full every month that gets me 4% cash back on gas NOT saving money?

    As for the premium gas, I drive a high end German sports car, not because it’s the most frugal option but because I love driving, that’s my choice of allocation of my disposable resources. Premium is a minor difference in price as I fill up on Thursdays, it gets me better gas mileage and performance. In addition, it clearly states in my owners manual and on the gas tank that this vehicle requires premium. Imagine I get denied a warranty claim on an engine that costs tens of thousands to replace due to that? That’s just dumb.

  • Jesse November 17, 2014, 6:18 pm

    This is a great article for something I’ve wanted advice on for a while. I own a small business and we currently spend between $8 and $12k per month on fuel.

    I have 5 guys running UFA and petrocanada fleet cards. I get zero points for this. Any one have any ideas on how I can improve this?

    Jesse

  • SST November 17, 2014, 10:27 pm

    “I know exactly how the credit card system works and I’d be fine abolishing it, but while it’s here I’m also fine maximizing it for myself and letting those that pay with cash and debit subsidize me and shoulder increased risk of fraud and theft.”

    This about says it all on the financial mentality of “the entire Canadian population”.

    Then again, we do live in a mine-at-all-cost Capitalist society….

  • John November 21, 2014, 11:44 am

    FYi as well it pays to shop around too, the Pioneer near us on Dupont is consistently about 5 cents cheaper than most other stations (save the Shell that they are in big competition with) so even if their rewards program is not as good, we still save a lot of money going there. Their price is usually about 1-2 cents more than Costco gas prices which isn’t too shabby.

  • SST November 22, 2014, 9:04 pm

    Now that I have a bit more time to add to this…

    “I couldn’t have imagined this post would evoke such a passionate response from anyone.”

    My unapologetic passion arises from information produced and touted as being for the benefit of “the entire Canadian population”, yet has barely been given a second thought past the advertisement. The entire Canadian population needs quality and correct financial information, not just a ‘Tip o’ the Day’ (e.g. buy premium gas with a credit card).

    I will say this, my responses are not entirely personal, that is, I’m sure you are a good person, merely misguided. And you aren’t alone in the boat. Actual financial professionals (as opposed to pulpy personal finance bloggers) get my full attention too, with gems of advice such as “stay 100% fully invested in the stock market and then ‘double down’ during the crashes”.

    But I digress.

    re: “I write for the entire Canadian population…”

    No, no you don’t. And here’s why:

    “I know exactly how the credit card system works and I’d be fine abolishing it, but while it’s here I’m also fine maximizing it for myself and letting those that pay with cash and debit subsidize me and shoulder increased risk of fraud and theft. Not using a credit card to reap the rewards is like choosing to pay a higher price for everything you buy.”

    The reason I am so brusque and pointed is to get through all the layers of coupons and fluff to reveal the true values and mindset behind personal finance advice. Let’s examine further (and we don’t have to go that far, either)…

    “I know exactly how the credit card system works and I’d be fine abolishing it…”

    Lies.
    You are not, in fact, fine with abolishing the credit card system because you still very much utilize it, promote it, and sway others to do the same. If you truly did “write for the entire Canadian population” you would cease all credit card activity and educate on the non-usage of credit cards and their deeply ingrained detriments. But you don’t.

    Your truth is this: “I’m also fine maximizing it for myself and letting those that pay with cash and debit subsidize me”.

    Does the “those that pay with cash” include all the poor people in Canada who don’t use credit cards? Is this the “entire Canadian population” who you feel should subsidize your “luxury vacations” by shouldering “increased risk of fraud and theft”? What if a person has no choice but “to pay a higher price for everything” simply because they only have cash and you flog credit cards at every chance — forcing the burden of that higher price upon them? I know, blame the game, not the player, as long as you get yours. Reminds me of the Idiot Millionaire and his penchant for low-income government assistance. You are also eliminating the choice to use cash instead of a credit card by coercing a financial penalty. Just because doing heroin makes you feel good, doesn’t mean I should have to partake.

    Truth is, you write for yourself and those like you, not the entire Canadian population, and certainly not Canadian SMEs. You are choosing convenience for yourself over lower, and real, prices for the entire Canadian population. Any other belief is delusional.

    Here’s a very easy challenge for you (and everyone) — discontinue your credit card use and shop around (and ask!) for merchants who give discounts for cash-only purchases. Convictions will reveal themselves rather quickly. Other G8/20 countries do it, so can we.

    Now back to the topic of gas “rewards”:

    re: “I’ll keep taking luxury vacations and flying around the world for free…”

    Do you really fly around the world for free on points gained from gas purchases? You need, what, 40-60,000 miles to go “global”. How exactly do you achieve that when you opt to redeem for car washes instead? And just how much of the “entire Canadian population” buys enough gas ($15,000?) to fuel a flight — for one — to Europe? But they’d be using credit cards on everything…again, forcing those who have no choice but to use cash to subsidize their luxury vacations.

    As mentioned, ‘marketing’ makes up a slice of the pump price, so even though you perceive you are getting a “reward”, you are still very much paying for it somewhere. Remember, the more rewards a credit card offers, the more fees it charges the merchant, the more the merchant charges you. Free lunches do not exist. I’ll assume you also don’t invest in Visa (V) or MasterCard (MA). (FYI, MasterCard stock has risen ~40% annually, a great return for a company that does absolutely nothing. And gurus say gold is absurd…)

    My path leads me in a different, and seemingly unpopular, direction than most who are enamored by coupons, “freebies”, and buying in bulk. Penny rich, pound poor.

    Let me put it another way — you prefer to collect your savings from the the position of the consumer — “Are you getting a half decent return on your spending”; I prefer to collect profit from the position of the producer. Opposite ends of the pipeline, and the producer will always post gains over the consumer.

    See ya at the finish line.

    p.s. — the electric car is now passe. Better buy a hydrogen car! :)

  • Alex November 24, 2014, 11:32 pm

    This may be unpopular with the crowd here but I think SST was totally right in pointing out that the sole and only point of these “rewards” programs is to get you to buy at their gas stations instead of the one on the other side of the road or the one thats 500m down the street. They also give you “points” to spend on purchases of their choosing. Most if not all of which I would never buy unless that was the only stuff to spend points on and I had to spend them. Wait, thats how these actually work. I dont need a “platinum extra rewards super premium car wash” every month that I can get for just $10 plus 500 points. Ill take the $7.99 car wash every half year, thx. Notice all the platinum and extra special keywords in there to make you feel better?

    If you’re lucky, as I am, you can just stop at the Kahnawake gas station on your way to work and get at least 5-10 cents less per liter regardless of what the price is in the city or your own sub urban home. Also, just buying Wed/Thu will get you about the same savings again vs buying Fri-Tue on average, overall deflationary tendencies like in the last few weeks notwithstanding.

  • John Power December 4, 2014, 6:04 pm

    canadian tire gas advantage
    up to 10 cents off per liter, but, depend on the previous month purchase level.
    just pay all your monthly fixed costs with it if you can.

  • ShellBonusAirmilesOffers January 4, 2015, 11:17 am

    During the Airmiles cash promotions, you can get 25 airmiles bonus for redeeming 95 airmiles = $10 worth of gas
    25 airmiles = $2.63 ($10 / 95 x 25), so that’s like paying $7.36 for $10 worth of gas, it only makes sense if you have a nearby shell station or passing by a Shell station on your route to your destination, but sometimes if travelling across the city back and forth to my home, I will redeem this offer twice or more times to maximize the return/bonus. It does take a bit longer since you can only redeem airmiles cash inside the store and not at the pump, but still a good way to maximize the value of airmiles redemptions.

    (apart from shell, I frequently use the superstore gas which usually has gas pump prices that are often between 1 to 3 cents per litre cheaper to begin with and which offers 4 pcpoints/liter when paying with the pcfinancial world mastercard which also gives an extra 2% return converted to pcpoints and with the new PCPlus card program at RCSS, it’s much easier now to save up enough Pcpoints to make redemptions on purchasing groceries, especially with the flyer price-matching offered at RCSS, sometimes you can get a sale price from another store’s flyer along with the PCPlus bonus points to get free groceries faster)

    2 months ago, between October 15, 2014 and November 30, 2014, my Scotia American Express credit card was also offering a $15 credit/bonus if you spend $60 at select locations, which happened to include esso and petrocanada stations along with some other restaurants/gas/grocery stores I don’t use, although it was impossible for me to fill up my tank for $60 on regular gas (45L fuel tank), I used that bonus offer to fill up my tank with premium gas and buy a bunch of small items in-store during the checkout to get to that $60 minimum spend and get the most bang for my buck, since it would have cost me $45 or more anyways to fill up my tank.

    I think it’s all about taking advantage of the gas station related offers that you’d be spending that money anyways and trying to stretch it / maximize what you get for spending those dollars / points / airmiles, etc. without having to go out of your way to do so. Finding what “fits” best for your unique situation based on where you live, what stores are located around you or along your normal travel patterns, and which rewards program(s) fits your lifestyle, how you normally spend your money anyways irregardless of the rewards/offers, etc.

  • V July 15, 2015, 10:22 pm

    How does “buy Esso stock, get 3.5% dividend” work?

  • SST July 16, 2015, 9:56 pm

    Esso has no stock; buy the parent company, Exxon (XOM) which pays a 3.5% dividend.

  • V July 18, 2015, 10:26 pm

    SST – thank you!

  • Jeff December 22, 2015, 8:32 pm

    Personally, I live in Alberta and yes you are correct, the gas prices are usually quite competitive compared to the rest of Canada. I fill up at Superstore Gas Bar. I also have a PC Financial Elite Mastercard. You get 7.0 Cents per litre of gas back on groceries (which you can either get a ticket at the automated gas bar dispenser) or you can put them right onto your PC Points card. You take these points and spend them on groceries. Everyone needs groceries right? For the money that I save when buying groceries – I take this money and use it for whatever I want ! To add to this, sometimes I get lucky – there is a lot of people who do not collect superbucks at the gas bar. They will go and fill up and leave their receipt behind. So since I am a superbucks collector, if I see one left on the gas bar I will go over and take it – thank you very much ! This actually doubles my earnings on some occasions making it even more worthwhile.

    I did the math as well when it comes to Costco Capital One Mastercard – even though it is also a good points card, I don’t believe it is better than PC Financial World Elite.

    If you want the best bang for your buck, get the PC FInancial World Elite Mastercard. Fill up at their affiliated gas stations. Also, load your offers when you grocery shop. If you dont know what I mean, basically, superstore emails you “bonus offers” which will give you extra PC Points if you purchase any of those bonus offers items. This could be anything from Yogurt, meat, or even apparel. If you do this, you won’t believe how quickly your PC Points add up. It is better than any other card I have purchased.

  • Sukh February 10, 2016, 3:40 pm

    I have a PC financial MasterCard and I get 7 cents back on my fuel purchase and use them for groceries. Another day I got an email that I will get some extra cents for buying at ESSO with PC card.
    Does it mean that we can get 7 plus 3.5 = 10.5 cents back per litre?

  • Rebekah March 9, 2016, 2:08 pm

    Oh my.

    It took me ‘a minute’ but I managed to read all of the comments. I find it pretty humorous the mud-flinging that (Stephen) had been attempted, and even picked up by others for a bit. Bad form guys… Of course this SST person is all-kinds-of “spot on”, and if you don’t know it: well I guess you’re maybe the ones railing up with weird sentences like “this isn’t about investing,” “look at my other websites” ” and (that guy’s) “incoherent, not making any sense” and “why are you so aggressive to us?? WHY!??”

    Hahaha, the back and forth is like slap-stick comedy to me. You have to go to the top and read it again, this time like you want to learn something.

    Oh man. I’m just still sitting here wondering why Stephen would be so pissy with his keyboard-words, instead of just saying “Thank you.” You know, like a good Canadian. Because this Infiniti-driving-know-it-all SST guy you love to hate just educated /me/ *thinks for a second* about 3.5%~*10years MORE than any of the terrible, terrible(!!) website-links that I clicked on for Stephen’s uhhmm, financial articles? I’m so serious.

    I get it, how some of the readers – most of the readers – want to know what’s the best rewards gas station and that’s it… But are you also saying that you *didn’t* want to know anything else of value? Because I’m happy knowing more. I’m always happier knowing more, as long as “more” is also “relevant” and “of value.” In this case it is.

    So I owe somebody a: Thank You.

    (and I think Somebody, owes Somebody Else an: Apologie?)

    *And now I have to go do a malware/spyware scan on my computer, because those Stephen links looked totally ‘phishy’ if you know what I mean. :)

    Keep it on cash,
    Bexx

    2. Incoherent? Is this about the premium gas thing, with the german car? I know… because I also have a german car, it’s a nice top of the line 2010 VW Tiguan. But why not just get regular gas at Top Tier gas stations now that the 2016 detergent gas thing is going on, eh? ….Although if this ‘coherency’ thing is about something else – theeeennn I am laughing at you. I thrive at having to write both coherently, and not, and SST re-reads before he posts. It’s obvious. Or he’s a magician, and he has MAGIC fix all his sentences into super-understandable.

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