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Service offers "Tomorrow's gas at today's prices"--anyone tried it?
Old 07-02-2008, 09:17 AM   #1
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Service offers "Tomorrow's gas at today's prices"--anyone tried it?

This company allows you to pre-buy gas.

As far as I can tell, you pay them $40 for an annual membership and they send you a card. (It's just $30 per year if you sign up for a recurring a auto-debit function from your credit card). Then, you go to their web site, type in your zip code, and the price is shown for regular, unleaded gas. You buy as many gallons as you want (you can charge it to your credit card). They continue to track gas prices at all US zip codes. When you fill up, you use the card to buy your gas. The card is good for however many gallons you've pre-purchased.

Some of the "gotchas" are in the details:
-- When you fill up, if the price at the station is higher than that day's "standard" price range (for that zip code, as determined by ""), you'll pay the difference (gallons deducted from your card). You do get a credit if you buys gas from a station with a price below that day's price range for your zip code.
-- When you buy gas in a different zip code, they'll adjust your account.

Oh, and it's all backed by one of the weakest guarantees you'll ever see. From their FAQ:

Q Do you really offer a 100% Money-Back Guarantee?
A Yes. If you do not save money on at least one redemption throughout the subscription year, we will refund 100% of your first year's membership fee.

I'm trying to get my arms around all the ways they make money.
-- Enrollment fees
-- "overdraft fee" of $15 if you use more gallons than are remaining on your card (the fuel gets debited immediately against your credit card, so they are at little risk here)
-- $2 charge every time you add fuel to the card
-- I'm fairly sure they are making money on the "spread" between the single price at which they sell a gallon and the "range" of fuel prices they apparently cover when you pump the gas. I couldn't find any real examples for my zip code of any of these figures.
-- I'm sure the company protects itself by buying futures or some other mechanism. Meanwhile, they've got the use of your money (earning interest, etc) until you pump the gas and they have to pay the service station.

The inventiveness of the human mind is a wonder to behold, as is man's ongoing quest for a "free lunch." Add in the hysteria over rising fuel prices and you've set the stage for a booming business.

Anybody trying it?

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Old 07-02-2008, 09:20 AM   #2
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What a gimmick. I figured it was only a matter of time before someone found a way to parlay consumer fears into "security for a price." Ah, capitalism.

"Hey, for every ten dollars, that's another hour that I have to be in the work place. That's an hour of my life. And my life is a very finite thing. I have only 'x' number of hours left before I'm dead. So how do I want to use these hours of my life? Do I want to use them just spending it on more crap and more stuff, or do I want to start getting a handle on it and using my life more intelligently?" -- Joe Dominguez (1938 - 1997)
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Old 07-02-2008, 09:47 AM   #3
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I'd like to see what it thinks the spot price is for my zip but the location finder is a non-link... goes to a 'coming soon' page.
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Old 07-02-2008, 11:22 AM   #4
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Sounds like a lot of fees thrown in to that card, $2 every time you add gallons to the card? I don't know how many times you would add to the card, but it could add a whole lot of little over time. Pre-buying gas at this point is almost after the fact... a lot of the runup of oil is now priced into the gas ($4.13 for unleaded here) so any advantage you get from this will be almost nothing compared to a simple 5% gas card at Shell, or the PENFED one...
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Old 07-02-2008, 04:01 PM   #5
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sounds like the perfect approach for anyone who doesn't think they're paying enough already.
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