Living with credit, New products, Rewards

Gas cards worth their weight in gold

Connie Prater

Gas card giveaways have become the new thing in the marketing world these days. Trying to sell everything from Chrysler and Dodge automobiles, charity raffles, employee giveaways and even Jesus, marketers have figured out that gas is gold.

Some estimates are that prices could hit $6 or $7 a gallon in a few months. Our poll found the majority of Americans — four out of five people — are now altering their driving habits in some way because of the rising gas prices.

Operators of the Kalahari Waterpark Resorts amusement parks in Wisconsin and Ohio are offering $40 gas cards to help defray the cost of driving to their attractions. Unfortunately, $40 doesn’t go as far as it used to. It now takes $50 to fill my tank.

A Google search of the terms “$500 gas card” shows $500 is a popular amount for giveaways and promotions. That may last a month for some families, less for others.

Time is money
If you win one, don’t stick it in your wallet and forget about it. As my colleague Jeremy Simon writes, hanging on to any kind of gift card doesn’t make sense when prices are rising as they are now. The longer you hang on to the card, the less buying power you have with it. That $500 card or $40 card buys less gas. Word to the wise: use it or lose it.

See related: “Coping with the gas pump,” “Poll: Gas prices take toll on family visits,” “Drive for rewards pushes old-style gas cards in the ditch,” “3 tips on buying gas

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  • While gas is the hot topic, cash is still king. In most cases, people would be much better off getting cash (which can be used for everything including gas) than taking payment in the form of a gas card. The Chrysler (and other deals) usually end up costing the consumer money and are nothing more than a gimmick. Here’s my analysis of the Chrysler deal: