As the July 4 holiday weekend approaches, chances are you have a road trip planned.
But when AAA forecasts you'll be out there with some 42 million Americans nationwide who also are planning getaways, it means more demand for gas — and higher prices.
As of June 28, the average price per gallon for regular unleaded gas was $5.27 across Arizona and $5.54 in Maricopa County, well above the national average of $4.88, according to AAA Arizona.
Fortunately, there are ways for holiday travelers to save a little money at the pump. Gas stations and grocery stores offer rewards programs where customers can save every time they buy fuel. Many of these programs are free to sign up for.
Here’s a look at five popular gas rewards programs and what they offer consumers.
Circle K Easy Pay
Circle K offers Easy Pay, where customers receive a debit card linked to their bank account to get discounts at Circle K gas stations.
Generally, customers can save 10 cents per gallon at participating stations. But Circle K currently has an enrollment offer where new Easy Pay customers can save 30 cents per gallon on their first 100 gallons or 60 days of gas purchases. The enrollment offer has no expiration date, according to a Circle K's customer care specialist.
Details: To enroll, request an Easy Pay card at a Circle K station, then go to https://www.circlek.com to link the card to your checking account. You must provide your drivers license to participate.
Fry's and Albertsons/Safeway fuel points
Two grocery store chains with a big presence in Arizona offer programs that give discounts for shopping there.
Fry's Food Store customers can redeem points at Fry’s or participating Shell gas stations.
Albertson’s offers a similar program at Albertsons and Safeway stores in Arizona, where rewards can be redeemed for savings at Safeway, Chevron and Texaco gas stations.
In both programs, shoppers earn one fuel point for each dollar spent on most groceries and two fuel points for each dollar spent on most gift cards. Every 100 fuel points equal a 10-cent per gallon savings. Points accrue automatically once you enroll, and there's no need to give your driver's license.
There's no limit to the number of fuel points shoppers may earn, but points expire on the last day of the month after they're earned. That means if you earn fuel points in June, you must redeem them by the end of July. In the Albertsons/Safeway program, point totals of 100 or fewer expire at the end of the month they were earned.
Details: if there are areas on the companies' websites that explain the fuel programs, it would be good to include them.
Inflation relief: What can you buy now that's cheaper than before?
Shell Fuel Rewards
In addition to honoring Fry’s fuel points at some locations, Shell has its own program, Shell Fuel Rewards. It uses a tiered system to determine how much people save at the pump: silver members save 3 cents per gallon and gold members save 5 cents per gallon.
All new members get gold status for the first six months; after that, they must buy at least five gallons of gas at least six times each month to maintain that status. No minimum purchase requirements are necessary to maintain silver status. People link their credit card to their Fuel Rewards account to earn points through purchases.
Most rewards expire on the last day of the month, or one full month after the month the reward is earned.
Details: Sign up for the Shell Rewards Program at https://www.fuelrewards.com.
Pay With GasBuddy
You may know GasBuddy as the website or app you use to find low gas prices. You might not know that GasBuddy also offers a gas savings card.
The Pay With GasBuddy card links to a customer’s bank account and functions like a bank card. To use it, the driver inserts it at the pump and selects “credit,” then enters a four-digit ID number that’s established in the final step of activating the card.
The discount, which can be up to 25 cents per gallon, will not show at the pump. Instead, it's shown in an email receipt from GasBuddy and in the savings tab of the app. Customers can get the best discounts by activating exclusive deal alerts on the GasBuddy app.
In January, GasBuddy staff said Pay With GasBuddy saved customers more than $1 billion at the pump since the program's introduction in August 2017.
Pay With GasBuddy can be used at most gas stations, but Costco, Sam's Club, Exxon Mobil and some Walmart and Arco gas stations do not accept it.
Details: Register at https://www.gasbuddy.com/pay.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Gas discounts: Circle K Easy Pay, Shell Fuel Rewards and more