Review
Petrol
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  • Fuel reward programmes are a major drawcard for filling stations, and various reward programmes
  • But how much value each delivers depends on several factors, including membership fees, cash back, and number of filling stations.
  • When it comes to banking partner, there's still one clear winner who offers more than R7 cash back – if you are willing to sign up for an insurance policy and climb various tiers.
  • But if you prefer to keep it simple, and avoid monthly membership fees, Shell's new in-house programme offers the simplest option with the best returns.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

* This article has been updated below.

The fuel price in South Africa is on the rise once again, and with more people back on the roads after a coronavirus hiatus, savings at the petrol pump is all the more important.

In a normal year South Africans spend around R14.76 billion per month on fuel. As a result, many of the country’s most popular reward and loyalty programmes have a strong fuel component.

Most of these reward programmes are locked in to certain card issuers and filling stations, with the notable exception of Shell, who is now going at it alone after what gave every appearance of a falling-out with Clicks. As a result, the programmes vary greatly in their requirements and payouts, and a direct comparison is difficult.

If its simplicity you're after, then the non-banking companies like Dis-Chem, Clicks, Pick n Pay, and Shell offer relatively easy-to-follow, flat-rate, cash-back systems. These give you between 10c and 15c back in points for every litre of fuel you buy. These programmes are free to join, and have no monthly membership fees.

If you're an existing banking or insurance client, then you're likely already paying for – and loyal to – a more complex fuel reward programme.

The banking and insurance partners of petrol stations offer rewards that scale based on your tier, and they generally have either a monthly membership or card-administration fee tied in. The tradeoff is better returns, provided you know how to work the system and climb the tiers. In most cases, credit card holders receive significantly greater returns for filling up than debit or cheque card holders, but these accounts also generally attract higher monthly fees.

When it comes to picking a non-banking fuel rewards partner, the new Shell V+ programme came out best, with an offer of 15c per litre, or 5c more than their direct competitors. The 5c aside, the only real factor to separate these programmes then is the affiliated filling station, in which case Clicks, with its partnership with Engen, offers the biggest national network of branches.

Although there's nothing stopping you from having more than one of these cards at any one time.

On the banking and insurance side, Discovery Insure still offers the greatest return of between 78c and R7.83 per litre based on current fuel prices. Their dual partnership with BP and Shell also gives them the lead in the number of eligible filling stations members can use. But the barrier to entry is steep: only those with a Discovery Insure vehicle insurance policy can join.

FNB members who closely follow the eBucks terms and conditions can bank up to a maximum of R8 back per litre of fuel - however, according to the eBucks terms and conditions, this reward only applies once a quarter, and depends on clients meeting several additional qualifying conditions, such as 100% of member fuel spend being at Engen for the quarter, and having a vehicle finance agreement with one of three specified providers.

Existing banking clients will likely stick with their bank’s offering. And those who don’t have a fuel rewards programme built into their banking fees may well look towards which filling stations brands are most convenient to their location - or carry multiple cards in case they get caught short and are in need of a top up at a different provider.

Even so, Business Insider South Africa compared the various offerings of each fuel reward programme in South Africa, with possible savings were calculated on the highest fuel price as of February 2021, at R15.67.

Here’s how fuel rewards programmes compare in South Africa

Fuel reward comparison - Benefits
Fuel reward comparison - Benefits

Fuel reward comparison - Caps and Providers
Fuel reward comparison - Caps and Providers

* This article was updated to reflect an additional possible bonus offer available to eBucks members. Members are able to double up their reward of R4 per litre to R8 per litre – once a quarter – if they meet onerous requirements.

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