Like a full 98.2% of the people reading this blog, I enjoy myself some freebies. The other 1.8% of the people reading this are so damn rich that they literally have an army of people to do their every bidding. Hey, this blog is big in North Korea, which I’d like to point out is a socialist paradise which doesn’t ever arrest people for no reason or let its people starve. You gotta give the people what they want.
Anyway, a situation has come up where I’m free to fill up my work truck wherever I want, using the company’s credit card. This means that I’m free to collect the rewards that’ll accumulate at a pretty good clip, since the chip truck burns through about 100 liters of fuel per week.
For my American readers, 100 liters works out to… you know what? Screw it. Figure it out yourselves. The metric system is pretty awesome. You should convert to it. Let’s just say it’s a lot of fuel, and I can easily accumulate a decent amount of rewards. But which Canadian retailer has the best rewards program? Come on, you know you’re just a little bit curious. Let’s do this thing.
Today, I’m looking at actual gas stations. Next Monday, I’ll look at grocery stores that also happen to sell gas.
Let’s start things off with the oil company that is either named after a cute dog or an overweight guy.
Husky is one of the largest gas chains in Canada, as well as operating all sorts of truck stops, which are usually pretty solid places to get a nice meal (and a hooker, if you’re so inclined). They’ve partnered up with the Canadian Auto Association, which may have sold you roadside protection for about a hundred bucks a year.
If you present your CAA card, you get 1.5 cents per liter, up to 125 liters per month. If you go above 125, the rewards get upped to 2 cents a liter. The chip truck would easily surpass 125 liters per month, so I’d be looking at 2 cents per liter. If I fill up an average of 100 liters a week, that’s 2 bucks a week, about a hundred bucks a year. Not bad, except my CAA membership is actually a Christmas gift every year. I probably wouldn’t have it if I had to pay for it.
Overall Grade: B
Esso is the retail arm of Imperial Oil, a big Canadian oil company which is more concentrated in the eastern part of the country. Their stations boast such amenities as car washes and pay at the pump, which apparently are worthy of being mentioned at their website. Esso has two reward programs, I’m thinking specifically to get more space in this blog post. Bastards.
The first reward program is their Esso Extra card, which gives a base rate of a point for every dollar you spend, with some products giving you extra points. You can supercharge your points by signing up for a RBC Esso Visa card, but this isn’t a credit card discussion, so don’t do that. So if you spend $1800, you’ll earn enough to get to get a $10 gas voucher. That’s a little over 0.5%, which is hardly enough to get me hard in the pants.
Esso also partners with Aeroplan, where you can earn 1 Aeroplan mile for every $3 you spend at Esso. It costs 15,000 miles for a flight from Toronto to New York, a flight that has an approximate retail value of $125. Assuming you were using your Aeroplan card only at Esso, it would take you $45,000 worth of gas for a $125 flight. That’s just a little over a 0.25% return. That’s uglier than your sister.
Overall grade: D
True story: if you put a Shell pump next to your ear while pumping your gas, you’ll hear the ocean.
Shell’s big giveaway is Air Miles, and I’d just like to thank them for keeping it a whole hell of a lot simpler than our pals from Esso. Air Miles have a retail value of 29.5 cents per mile, at least that’s what the folks at the local Century 21 here pay.
You earn one reward mile for your first $20, and then an additional mile for every $30 you spend. If I got 100 liters at a time, I’d probably be able to get 4 Air Miles per shot. If I want to redeem my air miles, I can soon redeem 95 for $10 worth of cash. That works out to a little more than 10 cents per mile, or 50 cents for approximately $110 worth of gas. That’s about 0.5%, which is about as exciting as a vanilla milkshake.
Overall Grade: C
Petro Canada was swallowed by oil giant Suncor back in 2009. The combined company still kept the Petro Canada branding on their retail stations, since they’re kind of a big deal.
They have their own rewards program, somewhat predictably called Petro Points. Regular fuel collects points at a rate of 5 per liter, meaning I’d earn approximately 500 points per week. It costs 40,000 points to get a $25 gift card to a decent selection of retailers. This means I’d need 8000 liters to get a $25 gift card. At a 100 liters per week, it would take me about a year and three quarters to get enough rewards to earn $25. But, in their defense, you do get 2500 points just for signing up, so I could probably earn $25 in my first year.
Overall Grade: C
Fas Gas is big in the prairies, so all you Ontarians are screwed. Which is too bad, because they have easily the best rewards program. It’s just not really applicable for me.
You get 3 cents back per liter, once you get to 240 liters. You have to get 20 liters at a time, or else your purchase doesn’t count, at least for the reward program. Your $7 or so is taken off your bill once you qualify. That’s it. What a great program.
Except for me, since all that would happen is the company would save money on gas. I’m not really too excited about that. Still, for most of you reading, this is by far the best reward program I could find, at least for traditional gas stations.
Overall Grade: A
That’s all the gas stations I could think of. If any readers know any other ones, like maybe regional chains from the eastern part of the country, feel free to add their details to the comments. Next week, I’ll take a look at grocery stores that sell gas. I’m thinking they might do a little better.