As the prices of petrol and diesel soar to record levels of over R26 per litre (for most grades), motorists would do well to study the reward programmes they make use of to make sure they are earning the maximum possible reward. For some consumers, it may make sense to re-evaluate their choice of rewards programme altogether.
In some cases, one may be ‘earning’ 10 points per litre which is the equivalent of just 10c, an insubstantial amount. This is not even half a percent back at the current inland pump price for 95 octane fuel (R26.74). Put another way, at this level, you would have to purchase 267 litres of fuel at a cost of over R7 150 to earn back the cost of a single litre!
However, there are rewards partners where you are able to somewhat easily earn back 30% and upwards of your spend.
Broadly speaking, there are three categories of entities offering fuel rewards programmes: national retailers, fuel companies themselves, and banks and other financial institutions.
Three national retailers, as part of their rewards programmes, currently offer fuel benefits via specific forecourt partners: Pick n Pay (Smart Shopper), Clicks (ClubCard) and Dis-Chem (Benefit programme).
All three offer the earn rate of 10c per litre, which at the current price equates to 0.4% ‘back’.
The only time these programmes really make much sense, especially at current prices, is when they are used in conjunction with another more lucrative one.
For example, one is able to earn eBucks and Clicks ClubCard rewards at Engen. Similarly, one can earn Discovery fuel rewards and Smart Shopper points at BP in the same transaction.
Clicks also regularly offers double points on fuel every Wednesday; its current promotion runs until the end of the month.
|Fuel retailer||Rewards programme||Points/amount earned||% of retail fuel price*|
|Astron Energy (Caltex)||Standard Bank UCount
|Debit card: 20c to R2 per litre
Credit card: 30c to R5 per litre
|0.7% to 7.5%
1.1% to 18.7%
|BP||Nedbank Greenbacks||25c per litre||0.9%|
|BP||PnP Smart Shopper/TymeBank||10 points per litre (10c)||0.4%|
|BP or Shell||Discovery Bank||Up to 20%||Up to 20%|
|BP or Shell||Discovery Insure||Up to 50%||Up to 50%|
|Engen||Clicks ClubCard||1 point per litre (10c)||0.4%|
|Engen||eBucks (FNB/RMB)||10c to R4 per litre (can be doubled up each quarter, if qualifying requirements are met)||0.4% to 15%
Double up: 0.75% to 29.9%
|Engen||eBucks (FNB/RMB) promotion – between July and September||R2.10 to R6 per litre, if payment is made using virtual card (can be doubled up this quarter, if qualifying requirements are met)||7.9% to 22%
Double up: 8.2% to 37.4%
|Sasol||Absa Rewards||Debit card: 0.5% to 4.5% per litre
Credit card: 1% to 30% per litre
|0.5% to 4.5%
1% to 30%
|Sasol||Sasol Rewards||30 points per litre (redeemable at 1c per point until Aug 31)||1.1%|
|Shell||Capitec Bank||20c per litre when swiping V+ Rewards card and paying with Capitec card (40c per litre on 10th of each month)||0.75% (1.5% on 10th)|
|Shell||V+ Rewards||15c per litre||0.6%|
|Total||Dis-Chem||10 Dis-Chem Benefit rewards per litre (10c)||0.4%|
|Total||Diners Club||1 mile for every R30||N/A|
|Total||Sanlam Money Saver credit card||R1 per litre||3.7%|
* At the July 2022 inland price of 95 octane petrol (R26.74 per litre).
Two of the fuel retailers, Shell and Sasol, have launched their own rewards programmes.
Here, they are effectively using a portion of their wholesale margin (45.5c) and/or some of their marketing budget to reward customers.
When signing up, you have to share a fair amount of personal information and opt in to allow the programme operators to communicate with you.
These programmes allow the fuel retailers to start building profiles of their customers which, until now, they have known very little about. Depending on the retailer-led programme, they will likely be requesting data about the base of customers using their loyalty cards in exchange for them covering the cashback amount (10c per litre).
Banks and financial services providers
Two of the banks’ offerings are ‘modest’ in comparison to their rivals.
Capitec offers 20c per litre to customers who fill up at Shell and who swipe their Shell V+ Rewards card and pay with their Capitec card. On the 10th day of each month (what it calls ‘Live better day’), this is doubled to 40c, equating to 1.5% per litre. Nedbank’s Greenbacks offers cash back of 25c per litre at BP.
Rivals Standard Bank (with UCount), Absa (with Absa Rewards), and FNB (with eBucks) offer far greater incentives to use certain petrol stations.
These three banks are able to use a portion of the interchange fee charged at the point-of-sale to ‘pay’ for the rewards.
These three programmes are all based on tiers and those customers on higher levels (based on their behaviour and the products they hold) will earn higher percentages.
Rates on debit cards range from 20c to R2 per litre in the case of Standard Bank at Astron Energy/Caltex (equating to 0.7% to 7.5%) to 0.5% to 4.5% per litre with Absa Rewards at Sasol. On credit cards, the two programmes offer rewards of 30c to R5 per litre (1.1% to 18.7%) and 1% to 30%, respectively.
The value in Absa’s programme has improved significantly in recent years.
FNB’s eBucks does not have a distinction between debit and credit card, and offers between 10c and R4 per litre for purchases at Engen. This is the equivalent of 0.4% to 15% cash back. These amounts can be doubled up each quarter, if three qualifying requirements are met: have active vehicle finance with WesBank, ensure the vehicle is loaded on the FNB app, and have all fuel spend at Engen. This takes the maximum earn amount (at eBucks reward level five) to R8 a litre.
Last month, FNB announced it would boost fuel rewards by R2 per litre for the next three months. This means qualifying customers could earn as much as R10 per litre back.
Discovery offers two fuel rewards programmes (at BP and Shell): one via Discovery Insure (where policyholders can get up to 50% of their fuel spend back each month) and another via Discovery Bank where the potential is 20%, dependent on the card held and Vitality Money status.
For customers who already hold multiple products with Discovery, it may therefore make sense to use Discovery Bank. A Discovery Bank Black Card account holder on Gold Vitality Money status will get 11% back on their fuel spend. These are paid in Discovery Miles.
Ultimately, the steep increase in petrol prices has largely been due to the rise in product prices (driven by the price of oil and the exchange rate).
Aside from banks, which will give back some/most of the interchange fee (or use actuarial models to incentivise behaviour, as in the case of Discovery), there is precious little to play with – only the wholesale margin of 45.5 cents per litre.