INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - As gas prices settle in above $4 a gallon, there's no reason to suffer in silence. There are ways to save - from 10 cents up to a dollar a gallon - just by signing up for simple programs.
With a wave of her wrist. Angie Minatel lowered the price at the pump by 30 cents a gallon. She was filling the tank of her car at an Indianapolis Kroger gas station on Thursday.
"I went from $4.15 a gallon to $3.85 a gallon," she said.
Minatel is a member of Kroger's customer loyalty program. She gets points on in-store purchases for discounts at Kroger gas stations.
Kroger spokesman John Elliott said on most purchases, program members get one point per dollar spent at the grocery.
"100 points equal 10 cents," he said. "You can accumulate up to a dollar a gallon off."
Members can use the points all at once, or a little at a time. There are even extra points available for purchasing certain items, like gift cards.
Minatel said the loyalty program pays off.
"I didn't pay anything. I just signed up, and they give you the card. And I get discounts in the store as well as gas," she said.
Jay Ricker saves 10 cents a gallon every time he fills the tank. He's not just a customer, but also the founder and owner of the Ricker's oil company, which has 50 stations in Indiana. Upset about rising gas prices and credit card fees, he started Ricker's Reward Club. It's free to join, and members get a card that works like an electronic check.
"Everything's done online," he said. "It's very safe. It's pin-encrypted. So you use that card at the pump."
His company avoids the fees from credit card companies, customers get the discount.
"It'll give you a receipt at the time, but then it also follows up with an email to you about an hour later saying you bought this many gallons at this particular Ricker's store," Ricker said.
Sam's Club and Costco are usually among the lowest prices around, but the discounts require a paid membership. Sam's Club membership costs $40 a year, Costco $55. But the price per gallon at both branded stations on Thursday in the Indianapolis area was 27 cents a gallon less than the average price in Indianapolis. With a 15-gallon tank, 10 fill-ups pays for your Sam's Club membership, 14 fill-ups pays for Costco.
Of course, the savings per gallon is not always that much. So doing the math will tell whether joining a discount club makes sense for you.
There are other loyalty card memberships available at no cost, and many gas stations have programs with credit cards that offer a per-gallon discount as well. Most of the programs cost you nothing extra and can save you plenty.
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