How to put the brakes on your fuel costs

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - OCTOBER 16: South African motorist can expect another petrol increase in November 2019. Petrol is going to increase for the ninth time in 2019 . The expected petrol price in November 2019, according to the Automobile Association (AA): 95 is expected to increase by 10 cents per litre, while petrol 93 is currently showing a decrease of 5 cents per litre. (Photo by Gallo Images/Sharon Seretlo)

Leverage your fuel spend against your loyalty programmes to put money back in your pocket.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

Mid-month data from the Central Energy Fund points to hefty increases in the fuel price next month: 80c more a litre for petrol and 61c more a litre for diesel.

The good news is you can leverage loyalty programmes to try to offset the hikes.

The announcement of a new partnership with Total garages this week saw Sanlam Reality join a multitude of loyalty programmes offering rewards on fuel expenditure.

Nathea Nicolay, head of product at Sanlam Reality, says you have to use your Sanlam Money Saver credit card to pay for fuel at a Total garage to receive the fuel benefit.

When you spend on the card, you have the option to “micro-save”, with 2.5% of each transaction going into a savings pocket. Sanlam then matches your 2.5% saving, putting a total of 5% into your savings pocket.

The new fuel reward means you will get R1 back for every litre of fuel. “There are no tier points or graded percentage rewards. This is the simplest reward structure. You buy fuel, you get cash back,” she says.

The fee on the Sanlam Money Saver credit card, which is underwritten by RCS, is R56 a month with a once-off initiation fee of R165. Applications are subject to credit approval under the National Credit Act.

The card was launched at the end of 2019 and has more than 5,000 users.

Comparing apples with apples

Amanda Cromhout, founder and chief executive of Truth, a company specialising in loyalty programme research and development, says the Total R1 a litre fuel reward is a standard offering if you compare it to other fuel rewards programmes.

“The fuel rewards landscape can be a bit messy because programmes often don’t compare like for like. You have to look at the small print and make sure you compare apples with apples,” she says.

For example, eBucks gives you rewards starting at 10c a litre for buying fuel at Engen. This goes up to R4 a litre on the highest platform, eBucks level five. You can double this to R8 a litre if you finance your vehicle via Wesbank, register your car on the nav app and buy 100% of your fuel at Engen.  DM168

What to ask before joining a loyalty programme:

What are they doing with my data? Some companies are using loyalty programmes to sell your data, while others use this information to improve their own processes. You need to know how protected your information is.

Is the reward worth the effort? “Some loyalty programmes are more complicated than others. You should ask yourself what criteria you need to meet before you receive a meaningful benefit,” Cromhout advises.

Which loyalty programme do I really want to join? If you are choosing a pharmacy loyalty programme, for example, it makes more sense to pick just one programme and maximise your benefits rather than to belong to two different programmes, Cromhout says.

Does using this partner make sense for me? Decide if it makes sense for you to change your behaviour and use a specific partner. For example, if you drive past a BP on your daily route and the nearest Caltex is 25km out of your way, it would not make sense to choose that specific loyalty programme. DM168

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper which is available for free to Pick n Pay Smart Shoppers at these Pick n Pay stores.


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  • Keep in mind that the diesel price is not regulated, as is the case for petrol. If your vehicle uses diesel, shop around for the best price, because your saving may be greater than for reward programmes.