Granted that oil prices are at an all time low and has made a small rebound, the fuel prices in Singapore have been adjusted downward but not to the same margin, and we all understand that this is multi-factorial. How then should motorists get the best deal for their buck? My father pumps at whichever company is convenient when the fuel runs low, but is this the best? What’s your strategy?
Taking aside the petrol station and credit card discounts, let’s just look at the rewards program that each petrol company has:
The Caltex Thanks! program rewards you with 1 point per 1L of petrol pumped at the petrol kiosk, regardless of diesel, octane 92, 95 or 98 (and this is common across the board). Accumulate 40 points and you can redeem $1 off at the petrol kiosk, either for your snacks or fuel and there is no $0.50 off for 20 points – everything has to be redeemed in blocks of 40 points. Looking through the catalogue, the best deal is probably a carwash for 220 points which is worth $8 at most petrol stations. NEVER, i repeat NEVER redeem your points for fuel, as they do not give you credit card discounts for your fuel purchase and you do not get any points even though you have refuelled.
Come 2 May 2016, this program will be replaced by the Plus! program which is essentially the NTUC Linkpoints program. You will earn 3 link points per 1L (doubled to 6 linkpoints from now till 2/5/16). The Plus! program has more choices such as redemption at NTUC (150 linkpoints to get $1 rebate, which means 50 Litres of fuel pumped) or 2100 linkpoints to get a $20 voucher from various merchants such as Metro, Swenson or Delifrance. During this transition period, you can exchange your Thanks! points at a rate of 1 Thanks point=3.75 Linkpoints. Remember to do by 2 May 2016 if not you will lose all your points! In addition, all points earned will expire by 31/12 of the same year, so the validity is the least across the various stations.
Similarly, Esso earns you 1 point per 1L of fuel pumped. If you are a heavy road user and can clock 250L per month, you get a bonus 35% Esso Smiles points! The best deal for redemption is getting $30 off your fuel purchase with 750 points, and you get your credit card discounts as well as points for your current purchase, which is unlike Caltex. Carwash also comes at 220 points, which is the same across the board. The best part is – the points do not expire as long as there is one transaction in 12 months.
The earn rate is the same 1 point per 1L. Like Esso, you get your credit card discounts as well as points for your current purchase even when you redeem your points for fuel (600 points for $20 worth – which is higher than Esso’s). If not, consider redeeming for a free carwash at 220 points or the other items that they have in their catalogue. Also note the expiry date which is 2 years. There is also a clause that states that points will be forfeited if not used within 6 months, almost personally that has not happened even though the account was inactive for a while.
SPC & U membership only provides you with 10% discount for petrol and 10+5% discount for diesel. There are no membership points as of this point in time.
Which is the best rewards program? First and foremost, consider the kind of discounts you get at the stations first (it all depends on which credit card you hold) as the discounts are more substantial than the rewards program. The recent summary (Version 5) is available here.
As mentioned, SPC has no rewards program, and Esso offers the best reward for loyalty customers who pump up to 250L a month.By looking at fuel redemptions, Esso offers the best value for money and Caltex is definitely the worst. At the end of the day, if you have a lot of points and prefer to exchange for a fan, microwave oven or telephone in the rewards catalogue, then the above should not be a concern.