Gas Discounts Could (Slightly) Ease Pain at the Pump

This gas price situation is a real downer. I haven’t been this depressed about something since Duane Bickett left the Colts in 1994.

It not only directly takes more money out of commuters’ pockets, but it also causes the costs of transporting goods to skyrocket, which of course gets passed on to consumers. It’s madness, I say. But the Indy Star ran a report today showing what types of gas discounts are available at some Hoosier businesses.

Costco
Members who use the Costco American Express co-branded credit card to buy gas at Costco stations receive 3 percent back at the end of the year. The cash reward can be redeemed at Costco.

Kroger
Kroger lets consumers accumulate fuel points on their loyalty cards in 100-point increments. Each 100 points is worth 10 cents off a gallon of gas. There are three ways to earn 100 points. Buy $100 in the store, fill two qualifying prescriptions in the pharmacy or buy $50 in gift cards.

You can accumulate up to 1,000 points and get up to $1 off per gallon of gas up to 35 gallons.

Use a Kroger-branded Visa card and get 5 cents off per gallon on top of that.

The grocer also has a partnership with Shell stations. Customers can use Kroger points there by swiping their loyalty card but can redeem only 100 points at a time. So 10 cents off per gallon is the maximum.

Meijer
Use a Meijer store credit card or Meijer-branded MasterCard and get 5 cents off per gallon. There are limited-time promotions when that discount is bumped up to 10 cents per gallon. Occasionally, store purchases generate a free gas coupon at the checkout for $2 or more off.

Ricker’s
Sign up for the loyalty program and receive up to 10 cents off every gallon of gas. You have to be at least 18 years old and have a U.S. checking account and an active email address. The cards are used like a debit card and are linked to your checking account. To get the fuel discount, you must pay with the loyalty card.

Sam’s Club
Members receive 5 cents off per gallon at Sam’s Club fuel centers.

Shell
Use a Shell MasterCard and receive a 5 percent rebate on fuel purchased.

Speedway
Earn points on a membership card by making purchases. For example, receive 20 points per $1 spent, excluding restricted items, for purchases of food, drink and merchandise. Also receive 10 points per gallon of fuel purchased. Customers can redeem the points for discounts on gas. Earn 1,750 and receive 10 cents off per gallon; 4,375 and earn 25 cents off; 8,750 and earn 50 cents off.

Swifty
This one’s easy. Pay with cash and get 3 cents off per gallon.

Walmart
Buy a Walmart gas gift card and save 3 cents per gallon. Any amount from $10 to $1,000 can be added to the card. In some cases, consumers who use their Walmart store-branded credit card to buy gas will get 5 cents off per gallon.

Wal-Mart Offers Employees Educational Assistance

A recent New York Times article reported that Wal-Mart will begin working with various educational institutions to help its associates earn college credit. The announcement was made in front of 4,000 invited employees last week at its on-campus arena on Wal-Mart’s Arkansas headquarters. Here are some key points:

  • The university will offer eligible employees 15 percent price reductions on tuition, and Wal-Mart will invest $50 million over three years in other tuition assistance for the employees who participate.
  • The partnership with American Public University, a for-profit school with about 70,000 online students, will allow some Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club employees to earn credits in areas like retail management and logistics for performing their regular jobs.
  • Wal-Mart estimates that about 50 percent of its employees in the United States have a high school diploma or the equivalent but have not earned a college degree. With the average full-time employee being paid $11.75 an hour, it was unclear how many of them will be able to take advantage of the new program.
  • The program will initially allow about 200,000 employees in positions like cashier, department manager and distribution center unloader to accrue credits for training they already receive in their jobs.
  • With the work credits and tuition discount, an associate’s degree for a Wal-Mart or Sam’s Club cashier would cost about $11,700 and a bachelor’s degree about $24,000.
  • Wal-Mart executives said it decided to work with an online university instead of a brick-and-mortar school after surveying more than 32,000 of its employees and learning that most of them wanted the scheduling flexibility afforded by online classes.