By using a variety of membership programs and cash-back credit cards, readers rack up fuel cost savings from coast to coast. Some of the recommended saving schemes could save you some serious truck camping money.
Two discount cards that are mentioned repeatedly are Costco and Sam’s Club memberships. BJ’s Wholesale club is also mentioned. The challenge is to figure out if you can recoup the membership costs ($45/year Sam’s Club, $50/year BJ’s Wholesale Club, and $55/year Costco) with fuel savings. If you also enjoy shopping at these club warehouse stores, membership is probably a no brainer.
Readers also reveal that saving money on gas isn’t always in the cards. A couple readers with gas trucks claim that the quality of the gas is as important, if not more important, than the price per gallon. If I read their responses correctly, it might actually be more cost effective to use premium fuel from name brand gas station than regular grade gas from discount gas stations. That would be amazing!
There are a lot of great ideas here for people in different areas, or different needs. Thank you to everyone who participated. You have helped a lot of truck campers save money.
This week’s Question of the Week was, “What credit card programs, membership card discounts, or discount cards in general do you use to save on fuel while truck camping?”
“We use a Pentagon Federal Credit Union Visa card. It gives us 5% cash back when we pay at the pump. This amount is applied to our statement. We also use GasBuddy to find the lowest fuel prices.” – Rick Nunemaker, 2014 Ram 3500, 2006 Mobile Suites, looking for a truck camper
“BJ’s Wholesale Club (similar to Sam’s Club) has member discounts. The one we use sells gasoline and propane.” – Richard Ward, 2006 Ford F250, 2007 Arctic Fox 990
“I use Good Sam’s Flying J / Pilot card, and the Costco, Safeway, and Kroger gas programs. We also use GasBuddy.” – Erwin Greven, 2002 Chevy 2500HD, 2002 Lance 921
“We use GasBuddy and I have a 77 gallon of tank. Flying J stations are just too expensive, even with the Good Sam’s discount card. I pay with a 3 percent back card. Good range is important.” – Tom Trimpe, 2015 Ram 4500, 2016 Adventurer 116DS
“The Sheetz card gives three cents off on all fuels. We also have a Good Sam’s membership, but hardly ever use it as we seldom pass a Flying J / Pilot on our trips.” – Wade and Becky Johnson, 2004 Ford F350, 2003 Lance 1130
“We go to Walmart and use our credit card. That gets us miles or points, so I buy a Walmart gift card, usually for $500 or $750 if I am getting ready to travel. You can use this at the pumps at Walmart/Murphy and Sam’s Club. The discount ranges from .03 to .10 cents per gallon. Note that not all Murphy gas stations accept the Walmart gift cards, but most do.” – Don Pryor, 2005 Ford F350, 2008 Arctic Fox 1150
“A little testing and note keeping proved that it costs less per mile for me to buy the highest octane non-ethanol gas I can find. The price per gallon is meaningless. The difference in miles per gallon between that gasoline and 87 octane 10% ethanol is 30% or more. That 30% figure is also true for my wife’s 2016 Honda Pilot. I belong to the Shell Fuel Rewards Program, and pay with a linked MasterCard.” – Philip Tron, 2009 Chevy 3500, 2012 Lance 1050
“In several western states (Utah being one of those), there are Maverik gas stations that offer two different levels of discounts. One is just a membership card that gets you a 2¢ per gallon discount. The other one is their NITRO card that is actually a debit card associated with your checking account and it gets you a 6¢ per gallon discount. We have the NITRO card and use it whenever possible.
Maverick also gives you points on all purchases (gas, food, drinks, etc.) worth 1% of your purchases and you can redeem them in 500 point increments for $5 gift cards (or merchandise). The debit and gift cards only work at Maverik stations and cannot be used for any other purchases.
We use our Costco/Sam’s Club cards when Maverik stations are not an option. And, of course, we use our Cabela’s Visa card for everything (except at Maverik). That gives us 1% cash back points usable on all the fun stuff that Cabela’s carries. The $1,200 sonar on my boat was completely paid for with those Cabela’s points.” – Robert Hicks, 2010 Chevrolet 2500HD, 2011 Lance 992
“In Canada, I use Petro Canada and Pioneer gas cards, plus my TD Visa card which has a decent cash back at the end of the year. Any gas is a bargain for me in the states, but I always fill my tank at Akwesasne reservation before crossing back to Canada!” – Maaja Sutak, 2012 GMC Sierra, 2015 Northstar Liberty
“We use CITI 1% + 1% = 2% cash rewards and Good Sam Flying J which I think it is 1 cent per gal discount. This definitely helps.
When we grocery shop out of state, we immediately apply for the store’s discount card and then also use it at their gas station connected to the store for further discounts in groceries and gas.” – Thomas Bender, 2011 Ford F250, 2009 Sun Valley Apache Chief 8.65 WS
“The Costco Visa gives 4% back on gas and is our go-to store when we need to do a large stock up. However, upon reading about Sam’s Club and it’s 5% from Charlie Coushaine, we will be getting a membership there as well.
For us, they are in two different towns, neither being where we live. Both are a drive, but then that’s why we have a truck camper. Thanks for the tip, Charlie.” – David Pracht, 2015 GMC HD K3500, 1987 Lance LC900
“Here in northern California, we have Safeway supermarkets, some of which have their own gas stations. Their prices are cheap to begin with but, by using their Club Card and spending $50 to $100 on groceries, they offer 10 cents per gallon discount at the pump and often have multiple bonus rewards associated with their Jus-4-U savings.
Depending on how much you spend on groceries, this can amount to as much as a 50 cents per gallon discount from the pump price. They have the same 10 cent per gallon deal with Chevron stations as well. Rotten Robbie stations also have their own savings card which gives 10 cents per gallon discount.
The Costco Citi cash-back credit card gives 4% on fuel at any station, and the Chase Freedom card usually has an annual quarterly 5% cash-back on fuel as well. So, since we Californians are already paying the highest fuel prices in the United States, it pays to take advantage of every discount that’s offered.” – Alan Keith, 1993 Ford F250, 1997 Lance Squire 165
“BP Visa gives us hundreds of dollars in fuel discounts per year. To cover non-BP fuel purchases, we use PenFed Cash Rewards Visa, but the rewards (5% credited on the statement) are only on fuel purchases. The BP card has 3% and 1% on travel, etc.
There are good security programs on both and no foreign transaction fees.” – Dwight Olson, 2012 GMC, Airstream Classic
“I have the Safeway, Fred Meyers, and Pilot/Flying J cards. Safeway and Freddies are okay in the Pacific Northwest area when loaded with credit. However, they are not reliable locations because they do not always have a fuel station.
Pilot/Flying J I’m still trying to figure out. I have the card. But one location said the card wasn’t the right one. They advised me that I’m not a trucker and the discounts don’t apply.
I’ve pretty much stopped using Pilot/Flying J as their diesel nozzle is a little too big, only goes in a short way, and the pour rate is too fast as I have to hold it in, and the back pressure keeps turning it off. So it’s either hand hold at a slow fill rate or go somewhere else, which is what I’m doing now until I find a better way. I will use it for the DEF fills if I’m empty, but that’s about it.
I noticed also that, with Flying J, I’m not getting the cheaper price as rates across the street are lower. I’m missing something here.
I tried Travel Centers once and, it was more expensive. I asked about discounts at the kiosk and they said the discounts are only for truckers, so I avoid them.
As I said, I’m missing something here and look forward to the replies from the more experienced truck campers. Thanks, good topic.” – Frank Poole, 2016 Ram 5500 HD, 2016 Arctic Fox 990
“We use a Pilot/Flying J discount card, a Kroger grocery store discount card, and we occasionally purchase a Walmart gift card which gives a 3 cent discount.” – Buzz and Sherri Merchlewitz, 1998 Dodge Ram 2500, 2015 Hallmark Ute
“I use a Costco Visa that gives 4% on gas.” – Richard Osborne, 2014 Toyota Tacoma, 2010 All Terrain Camper
“I usually try to fill up on diesel at Costco stations when I am near one. I also use one of two Visa cards and a Costco card that give me one and a half cents back on my diesel purchases. I only use Pilot or Flying J in a pinch because they are convenient when I’m traveling the super slabs.” – Bill Gahafer, 2008 Ford F450, 2013 Lance 1181
“I have a RV plus card from Pilot/Flying J.” – Robert Hubbs, 2002 Dodge 2500, 2010 Palomino Maverick M8801
“We use our Good Sam’s card. It saves us 3 cents per gallon at Flying J and Loves. Our local grocery store, HyVee, has a gas card which is good in the midwest.” – Matt Wiegand, 2014 Ford F150, 2015 Palomino SS-1251
“For Canadian residents, a Canadian Tire Gas Advantage MasterCard will give you a discount of up to 10¢ per liter (equivalent to about US $0.29 per gallon) on gas and diesel at Canadian Tire gas bars. Ten cents per liter kicks in if you make $2,000 purchases anywhere in the previous month. It’s 8¢ for at least $1,000 charged.
In the United States, we save by buying fuel at Sam’s Club or using Kroger points. You could also consider our passports to be a discount card because just buying fuel across the border generally saves us about 10-15% on gas and 5-10% on diesel.” – Grant Davidson, 2005 Ford F350, 1965 Avion
“I use Majier and Flying J cards.” – Robert Mayton, 2014 Ford F450, 2015 Lance 1172
“I have used the Flying J Good Sam discount for years. Also in Arizona, Fry’s (Kroger) and Safeway have a discount program for gas. My Visa card also gives me points every time I use it that are redeemed for cash.” – Floyd Tucker, 2003 GMC 2500HD, 2005 Lance 821
“We have a Citi card double cash. For every purchase we get a 2% back. We use this to pay off some of the credit card when it gets large enough.” – Alan Crawford, 2015 Chevy Silverado HD3500, 2014 Arctic Fox 990
“I use Costco (although the cheap bastards don’t have paper towels or a windshield bucket) and Sam’s Club.” – Deric Meakins, 2002 Chevy 2500, still looking for my unicorn
“While on our 2015 trip to Alaska and across the country, we joined Kroger supermarkets for food discount and fuel points. Kroger owns Fred Myers, Food for Less, Ralph’s Fresh Fare, and Ralph’s. This helped in reducing not only our fuel costs, but also our food bill. The lowest fuel cost to us was in a Georgia fuel stop. With the discount we paid $1.89/gallon for diesel.” – Alex Blasingame, 2007 Ford F250, 2002 Lance 815
“On the topic of fuel, I consider the miles per gallon of the brand most important. I do a test by driving until close to empty then filling the tank, get the receipt, and write the millage on it. I use the same brand for five fill-ups. Then, I add totals for miles and gallons and divide.
I have done this for new and used cars, trucks, and vans over 35 years and always find that one brand works better in one vehicle like 12.5 versus 14 in a Dodge van 318 two-barrel stick. The part of the year when alcohol is added, I always get a drop in mpg – about 15%. I find that discount brands of fuel come in way below the major brands I test. I use the miles per gallon to figure cost per mile over just low cost per gallon”. – Ivan Hass
“I have a AAA Visa that gives me money back credits on gas and groceries. I also have a BJ’s Wholesale Club membership and occasionally there are some gas stations that give a discount if you pay with cash. I mostly use my AAA card since groceries are included and I can use it at any grocery store.” – Marcia Liedigk, 2000 GMC K3500 Sierra, 1998 Fleetwood Elkhart
“I use my Fred Meyer card for their 3% discount for the Washington/Oregon area, but I always pay cash. Sometimes I’ll go to Costco for a good discount. More of their stores are putting in diesel now, but you have to use a debit or credit card. I like to pay cash.
I have a Good Sam card and will seek out Pilot/Flying J stations, but I still pay cash. Actually I very seldom use a credit card/debit card because I don’t want to be thinking about a bill coming in while we’re on the road. I like paying cash for fuel.
On a road trip I’ll try and estimate the distance and figure the number of fill-ups we’ll need and bring enough cash to cover the fuel expenditure. I don’t even like using ATM machines. They always seem to tack on an extra fee.” – Roger Odahl, 2008 Dodge Ram 3500, 2004 Eagle Cap 950