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Fuel rewards programmes compared  

With petrol at R16 a litre, every cent counts …

Faced with record fuel prices of more than R16 a litre inland, motorists are increasingly taking advantage of rewards programmes offered by major banks and retailers along with their petrol station partners. Rewards – in the form of points, ‘miles’, or cash back – range from the equivalent of 10c per litre of fuel to up to 50% of total fuel spend back, depending on the programme. In most cases, there are caps on the amount you are able to earn.

Historically, frequent flyer programmes and charge cards have offered benefits to customers on their fuel spend. FNB was the first of the banks to introduce rewards based on fuel purchases as part of its eBucks rewards programme in 2010. Absa and Standard Bank followed with their Absa Rewards and uCount programmes. Discovery’s credit card also offers rewards for fuel, as does the Avios credit card issued by Absa.

In 2016, Clicks began offering its ClubCard members points for filling up at Shell. Dis-Chem copied this in late 2017 as did Edcon’s Thank U loyalty programme, partnering with Total and Engen, respectively.

Among the major banks, FNB’s eBucks programme offers the most value when it comes to fuel rewards. Depending on reward level, customers can earn from 10c to R4 back per litre on their spend at Engen. The gap between the lower reward levels and levels four and five is significant (level three offers 75c back, while level four offers R2 and level five, R4 per litre), incentivising customers to change their behaviour or add additional products to move up. On Standard Bank’s uCount programme, customers can earn between 20c and 50c per litre when swiping their debit or cheque cards at Caltex, while credit cards earn between 30c and R2 back per litre. Absa also uses a similar structure, but the earn rate is a percentage, depending on your rewards tier and card used (the rate on debit cards ranges from 1% to 7.5%, while on credit cards it is between 1% and 15%).

The earn rate on the Discovery Card is 1 Discovery Mile for every R15 spent at BP or Shell (roughly equivalent to a litre of fuel), but these are multiplied based on your Vitality status. A member whose Vitality status is Diamond has a miles multiplier of 10 times.

Discovery’s industry-leading insurance product offers customers the ability to earn back up to 50% of fuel spend per month. This runs separately to Discovery’s credit card (you swipe a Vitality drive card). Fuel rewards are calculated by multiplying your rewards percentage by the lowest of either your Vitality drive points earned or fuel spend in a month. The rewards percentage ranges from 5% to 50%, depending on which plan you are on, whether you have car or car-and-home insurance and whether your vehicle passes an annual multipoint safety check. Vitality drive points are earned for actual driver behaviour and various assessments as well as vehicle safety checks.

Among the retailer rewards programmes, Edcon’s Thank U offers the best value with the equivalent of 15c back per litre at Engen. The Clicks ClubCard and Dis-Chem’s Loyalty Benefit Card both offer the equivalent of 10c back per litre. Diners Club members get 1 ClubMile for every R30 spent on fuel at Total, while SAA Voyager members get one mile per litre. On Avios, members get one point for every two litres. Avios credit card holders earn one point per litre.

Maximising rewards is simple. Make sure you’re on the highest level/tier for your bank’s rewards programme and that you use your credit card for purchasing fuel (even if you transfer money straight back into it, meaning it is effectively a debit card). If your bank’s fuel rewards partner offers additional rewards from a retail partner, it would make sense to make use of that too.

Fuel station

Rewards partner

Points earned

BP

Avios

Avios Card: 1 Avios point for every 2 litres

Credit card: 1 Avios point per litre

BP or Shell

Discovery Insure

Up to 50% of fuel spend back per month

BP or Shell

Discovery Card

1 Discovery Mile for every R15 spent (can be multiplied by up to 10x, depending on Vitality status)

Caltex

Standard Bank uCount

Cheque/debit card: 20c to 50c per litre, depending on tier

Credit Card: 30c to R2 per litre, depending on tier

Engen

eBucks (FNB/RMB)

10c to R4 per litre, depending on reward level

Engen

thank U (Edcon)

150 points per litre (15c)

Sasol

Absa Rewards

Debit card: 1% to 7.5% back, depending on tier

Credit Card: 1% to 15% back, depending on tier

Shell

Clicks ClubCard

1 point per litre (10c)

Total

Dis-Chem

10 Dis-Chem Loyalty Benefit points per litre (10c)

Total

Diners Club

1 ClubMile for every R30 spent

Total

SAA Voyager

1 SAA Voyager Mile per litre

There are limits on all the bank programmes. On FNB eBucks, these depend on your account type. For Gold Accounts, the monthly limit for fuel rewards at Engen is R1 500 of spend; on Premier, it’s R2 000; on Private Clients, it’s R2 500; and on Private Wealth, the limit is R3 000. The caps are either the hard limits, or 20% of total monthly qualifying spend, whichever occurs first. The limit on Standard Bank’s uCount programme is 10 000 rewards points (equal to R1 000) per monthly cycle. At the highest level and using a credit card (R2 back per litre), you would need to buy 500 litres of fuel in a month to hit the cap. Absa Rewards customers only earn on the first R3 000 spent at Sasol in a month. On Discovery Card, fuel rewards at BP or Shell are capped at 20% of total qualifying spend per month.

For Discovery Insure, because the rewards percentage is multiplied by the lower of either drive points or fuel spend, the absolute maximum monthly cash back is effectively R800, presuming a member on the Classic or Executive plan has both car and home insurance and passes the annual multipoint check and achieves the maximum amount of Vitality drive points in a month (1 600).

There are no limits on fuel cashback earned on retailer programmes, such as the Clicks ClubCard.

Hilton Tarrant works at YFM. He can still be contacted at hilton@moneyweb.co.za.

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If you spend less than R1600 per month on fuel per car, then Discovery has been the easiest winner. It isn’t quite 50% though, because you need to compare the net insurance cost on policy and Discovery a bit higher than other providers – plus an additional fee to join the vitality drive benefit – but overall have been happy and it’s provided a greater benefit to me than maximising eBucks.

I have been using the 15% FNB (Now R4 flat) rate reward for over a year now, and the savings have been nothing short of magnificent.

Every person should definitely make use of his bank’s/insurers’s rewards program.

Agree.

If you do not you lose as OBVIOUSLY the costs are built into the fees.

NO free lunch ladies and gents

Yup, well I can’t complain, I make more money back from eBucks than my bank fees, but obviously that’s only because someone out there doesn’t

Yeah, I don’t. Because there’s no Engen near me…

Well that sucks (for you) for me even though I have to go only to Engen the effective return rate for me is 24.7% much better than the 15% anywhere policy, again its bad for you, for me with a Engen its great.

I was on the discovery rewards program , having a old Hilux at the time , I thought this would be great as it can’t accelerate , it can’t speed , and will topple over if I corner harshly . When I got my first report I was quite shocked . So I asked them what quantifiable metrics do they use to measure all these factors , and is their data acquisition system calibrated . Answer I got were , the factors such as Acceleration(forward, back wards and left/Right ) are qualitative , not quantitative and the units are not calibrated against some form of fixed measure. Sounds a bit dodgy to me , and there is no way to take them on.

I am on the ABSA rewards programme and only use my Debit Card.

Needless to say that Absa is busy with ”high-way” robbery as ”Credit Card” holders can get 15 % back against the 7.5 % on their Debit cards!

How does getting money back for fuel work is it not the same as discounting which is illegal. I remember I had a friend who had a Caltex garage equipped with a car wash. He offered customers a free car wash for every 5 tanks of fuel they filled up. The Department of Mineral Affairs quickly rote him a letter telling him to stop or they would instruct Caltex to stop supplying him with fuel i.e. effectively shutting him down.

Also R4 back on litre of fuel as the there is not R4 difference between the fuel price and the cost plus taxes paid per litre. So are companies selling fuel at a loss- something I consider extremely unlikely.

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