Given the absence of Vanilla Reloads in the Pacific Northwest, purchasing gift cards at a grocery store is the next best thing to reload my Bluebird card. I can purchase them using a variety of credit cards, including some that earn bonus points at grocery stores, and then assign a PIN to make them function like any other debit card. I’ve never had a problem whether reloading at a Walmart register or a MoneyCenter ATM.
But we are fortunate that we also have QFC supermarkets here. (Parent company Kroger operates supermarkets throughout the U.S., but I never saw any growing up in California.) QFC Advantage Cards earn fuel points on almost all purchases, including gift cards. Spend $100, earn 100 fuel points, and get 10 cents off per gallon. Spend $1,000, earn 1,000 fuel points, and get $1 off per gallon. Unfortunately it’s capped at $1 off per gallon, but two $500 gift cards easily clear the spending hurdle.
My car only holds 12 gallons, so I can save up to $12 every time I buy gas. That perfectly offsets the $12 in activation fees I pay on those two $500 gift cards, and now Megan can finally stop complaining about all the gas I burn driving to Walmart and the airport. If you have a larger tank, fuel points can be used to offset the cost of up to 35 gallons per purchase.
Are you worried that this is some secret glitch and I’m going to ruin the deal? Don’t be. The FAQs on Shell’s website clearly encourage earning points for gift card purchases:
Are there other ways to earn Fuel Points beyond using my loyalty card when I buy groceries?
Fuel Points can be earned by purchasing prescriptions or gift cards at QFC. Customers earn 50 Fuel Points for each filled eligible prescription and two Fuel Points for every dollar spent on third party gift cards from QFC’s in-store Gift Card Malls. Visit any QFC store for details. Fuel Points will be automatically added to QFC Advantage Card accounts and will be reflected on the customers’ grocery receipt after every purchase.
The exception is that these Visa, MasterCard, and American Express gift cards only earn 1 fuel point per dollar, while most other merchant gift cards earn 2 fuel points per dollar. But I’m not complaining.
Some people have complained they earn more fuel points than they know what to do with. The rumor I’ve heard is that some people just sign up for a new QFC Advantage Card with every purchase. They don’t collect registration details at the register, and since 1,000 points are worth up to $35, they can be sold on eBay to others.
I honestly never paid attention to fuel points before this past month. Shell tends to have more expensive gas around where I live, and I am normally loyal to Rick’s Chevron in my neighborhood (Maple Leaf 4 Life!). But $12 is $12. It’s just another way to help offset the costs of buying gift cards.