Harris Teeter and Bi-Lo each rolled out promotions this year that offer savings on gasoline to grocery store customers, and they come with some pros and cons.
Both offer to reduce the prices paid at gas pumps, with rewards accumulated by spending money at the grocery stores. That's similar to the Fuel Perks program that Bi-Lo discontinued in 2016.
Harris Teeter's Fuel Points program is part of the VIC rewards program, which customers can sign up for in stores or online. Customers signed up for a VIC card just shop like they normally would, and accumulate discounts on gas at Harris Teeter Fuel (there's one on Folly Road and another in Fort Mill) or BP stations.
The Bi-Lo program is part of Southeastern Grocers' rewards program launched this summer, and it's also available at Winn-Dixie. Customers have to register for the program (SEGrewards.com or call 844-745-0463) to participate. Then, shopping earns you points for grocery or gas discounts.
Pro tip: Just signing up for the Bi-Lo program, even if you don't shop there, gets you 5 cents off per gallon at Shell stations by giving you Gold Status in Shell's Fuel Rewards program.
Neither program is anywhere near as generous as a previous Harris Teeter promotion that allowed customers to regularly buy gas station gift cards for 20 percent off — $20 for a $25 gift card — or the frequent Publix promotion that offers $10 off the purchase of a $50 gift card with a $50 or more grocery purchase.
However, for those who are members of the two grocery stores' loyalty programs, the savings are automatic, and every little bit of savings helps.
Key points about the two programs:
Harris Teeter: Every dollar spent, with some exceptions including alcohol and lottery tickets, earns a fuel point. Every 100 points is worth a 10-cent-per-gallon discount, up to $1 off, on a single purchase of up to 35 gallons. Use the phone number ("alternate ID") associated with your VIC account to get the discount at the pump. Points earned expire at the end of the following month.
Because the points expire, and discounts apply on single purchases up to 35 gallons at Harris Teeter and BP stations, this will be particularly attractive for people with inefficient vehicles with large gas tanks, such as pickup trucks. If you have a compact car with a 12-gallon tank your potential savings are limited.
Bi-Lo: Every dollar spent earns a rewards point. Every 100 points is worth 5 cents off per gallon, or $1 off groceries — the latter is a better deal unless you're buying more than 20 gallons of gas. Points expire at the end of the next calendar year after the first points earning, so points always last at least a year.
The Bi-Lo program amounts to getting back at least 1 percent on groceries. The gas savings aren't as generous as the Harris Teeter offer, but the points don't expire as quickly, which makes them more likely to be redeemed.
Savings: For every $100 spent, a Harris Teeter customer would save 10 cents a gallon. For someone buying 30 gallons of gas, that's worth $3, while someone buying 10 gallons would just save $1.
At Bi-Lo, spending that same $100 saves you $1 on groceries or 5 cents a gallon. That's in addition to the 5-cent-per-gallon discount you get any time on up to 20 gallons with Fuel Rewards Gold Status, which is automatic if you're registered for SE Grocers rewards.
In both cases, savings can be greater because each program has bonus-point categories. With Harris Teeter you get double points on gift card purchases and 50 points for purchasing a prescription. Bi-Lo has items that are worth bonus points, and gift cards are worth triple points.
Reach David Slade at 843-937-5552. Follow him on Twitter @DSladeNews.