Originally published October 28, 2015 on autoTRADER.ca

Everyone loves points, and wherever you buy almost anything, there’s some sort of points program waiting for your participation.

There are a few reasons why. Points programs inspire shopper loyalty, help build a positive brand reputation, and farm demographic information galore. Every time you swipe your points card, the retailer knows which sale offers you took advantage of, which secondary items you purchased, which items you frequently purchase together, and so on – as well as your age, income level, where you live, and more. Marketing folks love this sort of stuff, as it helps them better target you in future advertising endeavours.

Gas stations are big into reward points, so here’s a look at three major ones, a highlight of their rewards points programs, what they offer, and a few pro-tips. We’ll also look at a pretend average shopper, Maud, and how many points she’ll earn spending 250 dollars a month on fuel, and another 50 dollars a month in store on coffee, gum, lottery, and snacks.

Petro Canada (Petro Points)

Reward Points on Fuel: Petro Canada rewards drivers with 5 points per litre on regular fuel, 7 points per litre on mid-grade fuel, and 10 points per litre on high-octane fuels, and diesel.

Reward Points Rate on Retail: Buy qualifying convenience store items or car washes, and you’ll get 20 points per dollar added to your points balance.

Bonus Points and Perks: If you’re buying more than 150 litres of fuel a month, the Petro Points program offers up extra top-up points. Shoppers buying between 150 and 249 litres of fuel per month get an extra 750 point top-up, and that figure climbs to 1,000 top-up points if you buy 250 litres of fuel or more.

Partners include CAA, Discount Car and Truck Rentals, SPC Card and others, with each accepting or providing Petro Points to shoppers. New points accounts get a 2,500 Petro Point bonus when a valid email is provided, and a Petro-Points Mastercard lets shoppers earn extra points on everyday purchases paid for with it.

Finally, in-store offers jack up points earning rates on special promotional items, for instance, allowing you to earn an extra 300 points when purchasing a certain beverage or accessory.

Good Redemption Deals: Apply your points directly to a fuel purchase for $1 in gasoline in exchange for 2,000 points, or $5 worth of gasoline for 10,000 points. The standard fuel-savings card costs 12,000 points and saves 5 cents per litre on 200 litres of fuel. It’s worth 10 bucks, but only costs an extra 2,000 points.

The Best Gas Station Points Program

Other fuel-saving cards are available, with various redemption rates, so shop carefully if you’ll use your points for a fuel-savings card. Car washes are available from about 8,000 points, and if you’re planning to use your points to keep your ride glimmering and lustrous, a Wash & Go card is a slightly better value, offering a points discount on a five-wash card, and a free wash when you register online.

If you’ve got a purchase coming up at a retailer like Best Buy, be sure to check out how many points a gift card might cost you – as these can often make a better deal. A $10 Best Buy Gift Card costs 15,000 points, where $10 in free fuel (as a straight swap) will yank 20,000 points back off of your card.

Maud: Spending 250 a month on regular fuel for her Taurus (at $1 per litre) and 50 bucks more on convenience store purchases and car washes, our Maud would earn 3,250 points per month, monthly points top-up included. That’s enough for a few lottery tickets, or a few cups of coffee. If Maud saved her points for a year at this rate ( about 39,000 points after 12 months), she’d have enough for $30 dollars off of a vacation with iTravel2000, $20 worth of free fuel, or six free car washes with the Wash&Go Card (providing she turns over her email address).

Best For: With the monthly top-up feature and good points deals on car washes, Petro Points may prove ideal for someone using more than 150L per month in fuel, and who frequently uses gas-station car washes.

Pro Tip: Why not sign up for the Petro Mastercard, so you can earn extra Petro Points at Petro Canada, as well as on other purchases, even at competitor fueling stations? Swipe your Petro Mastercard at an Esso Station, and you’ll earn rewards points from both. Delicious double dipping!

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