Kroger Grocery Store Fuel Discount: The Most Expensive Two Dollars I’ve Ever Saved

We have been loyal Kroger grocery store shoppers for some time, and thanks to their double-coupon deals we’ve managed to save quite a bit of money on sale items. As an added bonus, Kroger grocery stores also offer a loyalty card that allows members to receive a $0.10 per gallon discount on gasoline for every $100 you spend on groceries.

I ran gasoline purchases through my Discover Open Road (get $10 Cashback Bonus on each of your first 5 fill-ups) for the rebate.  For several months I refused to shop anywhere else because I was convinced this was saving us money. That line of thinking came to a screeching halt when I finally sat down to do the math, and a little comparison shopping.

My Car Can’t Hold More Gas

Gas prices are steadily climbing, but Kroger’s fuel discount only provides a flat discount off the retail price of gasoline. Since my car can’t hold any additional gasoline this means my savings are fairly well capped to $2.00 per fill up (assuming an average of about 20 gallons per fill up).  

During the last few shopping trips I’ve noticed significant price increases at Kroger, particularly on dairy, meats and a few packaged dried goods (crackers, cookies, etc.). I knew prices were up everywhere, but I decided to shop around.

Wal-Mart vs. Kroger

I visited a local Wal-Mart Supercenter last weekend armed with the receipt from my last trip to our Kroger grocery store. What I found confirmed my suspicions – Kroger was more expensive. Several items were significantly higher at the Kroger store – some even as much as $1.25 higher for the exact same product and size.

It wouldn’t take a lot of shopping at Wal-Mart to offset the $2.00 I saved per weekly fill-up at the Kroger gas pumps. In fact, we could save quite a bit of money by moving the majority of our grocery shopping to Wal-Mart.

The Kroger fuel discount, and the Kroger Plus card, are great examples of how loyalty programs work. Companies create the perception that by sticking with them you will automatically save money. As my impromptu research has shown, that is not always the case. Be sure to shop around, and stop to do the math to figure out if saving money is costing you more than you think.

Comments

  1. The shoppers reward card at our local store is such a joke, but the other store in the area has rotten produce the last time we went and I refuse to return. Alas, our Wal-Mart is scary and dirty as well.

    I particularly like the promotions where you spend $50 a week for around 15 weeks and they give you a ‘gift’ worth maybe $15. At least when it used to be a ham or turkey near the holidays I could use it, but now they give out informercial type products like non-stick pans that don’t work. Whoopdee-freaking-doo. I’d rather have the $15.

  2. I realize that this is a frugality blog, but I have to say that I don’t and won’t shop at Wal-Mart. Their corporate practices turn my stomach and I won’t shop there on principle.

  3. I’m afraid I won’t shop at Wal-Mart either. It’s dirty, it’s huge, it’s unpleasant and a major timekiller, besides being un-American. I get most of my food from the local organic market – mostly vegetables and fruits that aren’t in my garden – and only pick up a few small items from the local grocery store, like whole wheat pasta.

    We can be frugal without trading in our principles.

  4. check wal-mart sizes very carefully. i’ve seen brand items there that are slightly smaller than in the grocery stores, making it seem like they are cheaper.

    and as far as grocery shopping goes, consider “the grocery game” (.com). i’ve done a five-part series about using it on my blog. by combining sales and coupons (at kroger specifically) i now save at least 40% off the shelf price and i buy significantly more food for the same or less than i used to pay.

  5. Our Kroger is super ghetto so I wouldn’t shop there even if I had to. We used to have a nice one near us and it closed down and since then I have stuck to shopping at Aldi, Meijer, or Wal-Mart.

    I noticed Walmart has gotten better about carrying more organic foods and meats too so now I am a little more likely to shop there :)

  6. Good post! I do think that Kroger is more expensive, but the fact that our local Kroger will double coupons makes it cheaper for us versus Wal-Mart. But, the whole gas thing is a great marketing tactic to get you to shop there – and I will admit that I used to primarily shop at Kroger just for the fuel reward. Now, I don’t even spend enough money there each month to qualify.

    Our Wal-Mart used to offer a $.10 discount per gallon at their gas stations if you used a Wal-Mart gift card to pay. I’m not sure if they still do this, or if they even have gas stations they are affiliated with anymore, but I enjoyed the savings since they didn’t require you to purchase a certain amount of product in their store!

  7. Great post. I’d love to do a comparision of Kroger and Publix . . . I do enjoy the Buy One Get One free weekly specials that that Publix does and it’s usually on items I need – coffee, cereal, so I tend to stock up. (this week its the CFL lightbulbs!) But not sure overall how much money Im saving.

    Thanks again for your blog, I read it every day. ;-)

  8. It’s always good to price check. Many times you get a few surprises.

    We’ve found that WalMart is almost always the cheapest, even with smaller sizes. They make things easier on the shopper by posting the “per unit” prices on their shelf labels at my local WalMart. What always surprises me is that larger sizes aren’t always cheaper by the unit. Didn’t you write a post on that once?

  9. I agree, Cory . . . I don’t care for the WalMart practices either. There’s a big giant WalMart that I pass almost daily . . . and I can’t bring myself to shop there.

  10. @Cory & Laura: I understand your feelings on Wal-Mart – I know their practices don’t agree with everyone. Feel free to insert your favorite store when reading the article, because the point was really to pay attention to loyalty programs and make sure they are saving you money, regardless of where you shop. Unfortunately, we have limited options for grocery shopping.

  11. Sorry for bumping the flow, FD . . . and yes, I understand that not everyone has the same choices – or even choices due to where they live. Point taken. ;-)

    I want to go and do a cost comparision between Kroger and Publix on my own. Ive been a long time Kroger fan, esp with the doubling of coupons,but I do think that they DO hike their prices at times. I need to do a check, cuz I think that I will find that in the long run, that Publix, while bigger and flashier than Kroger (at least mine is) that it might be cheaper. ;-)

    Thanks again,
    L

  12. lol where have you been? I think most people knew this long ago. The problem is, most people don’t like shopping at walmart. Kroger is a nicer store and their employees are more friendly but, their prices are also higher. If you really need to cut back, walmart is usually your best bet.

  13. The Kroger loyalty card is the best $50,000 I ever spent. I got a free tank of gas, and it only took 2 years!

    Maybe I should shop at Giant Eagle instead. I’d only have to spend $12,000 to get a tank of gas.

  14. I, like Cory and Laura, refuse to shop at Wal-Mart due to their business practices and the fact that the place is just too darn big and I am too worn out to put away the groceries when I get home if I shop there.
    I shop at Krogers mainly, but have been turning more and more to Aldi’s. The majority of what they carry is their own brand, but everything we have tried has been far superior to the nationally advertised brand. And they are super cheap!

  15. I recently purchased $1,200 in Kroger gift cards which gave us $120 free. That extra 10% will negate any price differences between the two for us.

    But, gift cards aside, we normally shop at kroger for gas, meats, and produce (percieved cleanliness) and get our bulk and standard items at WM.

  16. Nice article FD.

    The local supermarket here Hy Vee does the same thing, but it’s .03 per gallon. What a waste of time and money. My wife and I are loyal Costco and Fareway shoppers. There are lots of levers for these stores to pull, I think someone mentioned WalMart actually giving smaller sizes so they have the appearance of being cheaper. Bottom line, know what your buying and what your paying for it.

  17. I was so proud of Micah for coming home with some name brand foods that we normally buy generic. The second he put down the bags he was quick to explain that they were on sale for less than the generic. He was pretty excited about having saved a few bucks, which made me happy since I think my shopping theories are rubbing off on him.

  18. This is very useful advice. I don’t mind shopping at Wal-Mart but have never bought from their grocery section, preferring supermarkets and local farms.

  19. I agree that most times Wal-Mart is cheaper, and they certainly offer cheaper gas, especially if you put money on a Wal-Mart gift card and use that to pay for your gas. However, I just cannot support the underlying business principles of Wal-Mart. I come from a rural area where Wal-Mart is literally one of 2 grocery stores within a 30 mile radius. In my experience, Wal-Mart carries a few name brands and always the Wal-Mart (cheaper) brand. I’ve found that in regards to food items, the Wal-Mart brand is sub-par. Also, many times I find Wal-Mart is “out” of the name brand I have a coupon for, but they proudly display their own off-brand. Wal-Mart repeatedly puts mom-and-pop grocery stores out of business when they come to town. Even if it costs me a little more, I’m going to support stores other than Wal-Mart.

  20. My fiancee’ and I do all of our grocery shopping at Walmart because, simply put, Walmart is cheaper than every other grocery store in our area (we have a Kroger in our area also). We save a LOT of money by doing our shopping there. BUT I’ve noticed quite a few times that when Kroger has sales, some of the prices of their on-sale items drop lower than Walmart’s prices for the same items. Stay on top of those sales and you can end up saving even more money.

  21. I purchase the flyer sale items only each week. They result in a big discount when I use coupons too. I buy about $100 a month and receive 10cent s off on each gallon of gas. It is only 1 tank full but Why spend anymore money there? this way I get the discounts and the savings on the gas too.

  22. Even with my husband’s employee discount at Kroger, (he is a manager in the meat dept,) we still wind up buying the majority of our groceries at Sam’s Club or WalMart. We do get the .10 fuel discount though, so that works out to be a huge help in the long run. Buying only things on sale, and using the discount, we manage to do OK.

    It’s interesting to shop around, and see how things compare! Thanks for a very interesting look at the bonus program!

  23. Wal-mart used to be cheaper, but after comparing I find that our Kroger is either cheaper or dead-on with most of the items we get. Add the double coupons and we save more at Kroger. We are also very careful to shop with the ads. I also save more because chances of me buying things that aren’t on my list decreases. And I spend less than half the time @ Kroger that I would at Wal-mart. I did notice the prices at a Kroger across town were a good bit higher. It also has a larger wine selection and an in-house chef. My local does not and I’d prefer the lower prices to the effusive services.

  24. All the bashing on Walmart is so stupid IMHO. As if any other “big” business that moved into a small town wouldn’t put the “mom and pop” shops out of business. If it wasn’t WM it would be Fred Meyer or Target or whatever. Business is business. And times change.

    That said I don’t shop often at WM because I don’t really like it as much. But I do like that their Sunday papers are only $0.99 instead of $1.50. :) More coupons for less!

    I like Fred Meyer though I try to shop around. Fred Meyer gives 1% cash back every quarter. Since I can get pretty much anything there it’s convenient. I wish they had a FM gas station here too because I know they have a gas discount.

  25. I pretty much go back and forth between Kroger and Walmart. If I did all my shopping at Kroger it would totally cost us way too much, but they do have quite a few Kroger brand things that we like and I shop their weekly flyer. Doing that little shopping there gets me that $100 for the gas discount and then I do the rest of my shopping at Walmart (and 2 other places!)

  26. Interesting post. I try two switch up grocery stores from week to week to save – I’ve got whole keychain full of those cards because I’m never loyal!

  27. FD- I have to respectfully disagree with your logic. While I certainly agree that Kroger’s regular prices are more expensive than WM, they have amazing sales. Each grocery store has cyclical sales trends, which can be tracked.

    I specifically purchase ONLY the items at Kroger which are at their rock-bottom price, combined with a double or triple coupon. It beats WM every time. I purchase multiple papers, and stockpile the best deals with coupons.

    I have gotten many items for free this way as well. I actually posted earlier today about the general misconception that WM is the cheapest option. I would be thrilled to get your opinion on it!

    • @Alyssa: You make a valid point regarding the sales trends and Kroger’s coupon policy. I am admittedly bad at keeping up with coupons and could probably improve my strategy by putting more effort here. However, back when I was a member of The Grocery Game, and I was faithfully tracking coupons, I got tired of seeing the same things on their list. I mean, how many cans of soup, rolled cookie dough, and $0.49 cereals does one family need? I’m being sarcastic, but that’s what it seemed like.I shop at Walmart for the things that coupons can’t buy – produce, meats, larger volume laundry supplies, etc. In my personal experience the prices there are far and away better than Kroger for those particular foods.

      I’m on a mission to more healthy, and this has probably influenced my thinking some. I used to be all about eating whatever was on sale, but now I am reconsidering that strategy.I appreciate your comments, and encourage you (and everyone else for that matter) to continue to do what works best for them.

  28. Ha! You figured out that I am Grocery Gamer. Indeed. True, many items repeat on the list, but only because coupons tend to repeat every month.

    My strategy is actually similar to yours. I buy immediate “needs” at Wal-Mart. My stockpile serves me well. This week, I got 2 bottles of Tide laundry detergent for pennies at CVS.

    Curious: does Frugal Dad play the CVS game?

  29. In Salt Lake, our local “Kroger” (actually called Smith’s, but owned by Kroger) is cheaper in dairy and meat than Wal-Mart. I shop wal-mart for non-perishables, Smiths for dairy and produce, and sometimes another local grocery store or two for produce or sales if they have anything good. I was a loyal Smiths shopper until I started shopping wal-mart for work groceries and realized that there was a big difference. It wasn’t that way when we lived in MO. All the stores were pretty equal in our town, so we shopped the Hy-Vee because I loved that store.

  30. It amazes me how people trash Wal-mart for their business practices. If you really care for the people who (according to you) are not treated well by Wal-mart, they you should be shopping exclusively at Wal-mart so that those folks who work there can survive. May of the folks who work at Wal-mart on low temp wages work there as a last option – if they had a choice or better paying options they wouldn’t be there in the first place and Wal-mart wouldn’t get to abuse them (according to you). Sorry for the political rant – but this bashing of one of the top 3 employer in the US and fortune 1 company is absolutely R@$#@#$@#…

    • they work at low paying wal-mart BECAUSE wal-mart put out the good paying company that they used to work for. wal-mart did it to one of our local factories here. watch the wal-mart documentary and you will see for yourself why people don’t like their business practices.

  31. It depends on where you live. I have saved a lot of money shopping at the local Kroger store in my area (Louisiana). They have a lot of sales here like buy 1 get 1 free deals and 10 for 10 sales. They have also teamed up with P&G and other coupon companies to where you can have coupons sent to your Kroger card that when you buy coupon items it gives you the coupon discount just by swiping the card. Some of their items are expensive in the meat and seafood areas, but at the local Walmart store where I live there is maybe a few cents savings difference in price. Also, the Kroger store in my area is nice and clean and on safe side of town unlike Walmart where there are daily carjackings!

  32. I wish more super markets were like Kroger’s. We don’t get them in Florida, and have to make do with inferior markets.

  33. Watch Walmart The High Cost of Low price. Walmart gave 1.00 to charities IN THE USA IN ONE YEAR. Kroger gave 1,000,000. to Texas, and Louisiana in one month.

  34. A poster ahd a comment about different size packages of stuff at Walmart vs. Kroger. Nonsense. Even if true, one should purchase by “unit price” anyway. Example….There is almost no brand name cereal at Kroger less than 20 cents an ounce. Old Wally has many for less than 20 cpo. Same product.

  35. Valued customer card or not…Kroger is getting pretty expensive to shop at here in Michigan. Having been a regular customer there for years I can’t help but notice the constant price rising on items that has been going on this last year there–if you want a job with security in this economic downturn,be the clerk that changes the sticker prices at a Kroger. Up to 5 or 6 months ago I used to do 100% of my grocery shopping at Krogers, but since then I’ve gradually been shifting more and more of my purchases to several other stores such as Target,Value center market, and Meijers, I’ve been saving some money this way.

  36. Ran across your site when I typed in “Kroger gas” to find a link to Kroger’s with gas stations as I write a blog post on making the most out of shopping at Kroger!

    I’m with Alyssa (and also a daily reader of her blog!) on the value of using coupons on sale items at Kroger and other stores, vs doing all my shopping at Walmart, which is what I did up until a year ago! I do agree that Walmart’s everyday prices are lower, but Kroger offers so many rewards with e-coupons, double coupons, bogo sales, etc that when you shop the sales/ads you can get things significantly less than Walmart would charge!

    I took advantage of their Buy 10 items get $5 off your order sale twice last week, once spending around $5 and once $3 for a total of over $60 worth of groceries. Combining sales, coupons, and manager’s specials make for one heck of a savings!

    Add on top of that- I earned around 60 fuel points by only spending $8! My Kroger and Walmart are directly across the street from each other! The Walmart (even though it’s brand new!) doesn’t have gas, and I almost ALWAYS chose Kroger now over Walmart, unless I need something that I know there isn’t a sale or coupon for!

    I don’t do “The Grocery Game” there are enough blogs/forums out there to help with matchups that make it easier for me than paying for GG!

  37. No matter what discount cards or other perks are offered, you just can’t walk into the store and pick up what you want and expect to come out ahead. You still have to forgo things that are high and stock up on things that are at a very good price. The key is doing your homework, not just trusting coupons or cards. It may mean a bit more legwork as you may have to shop at two or three different grocers, and you do have to consider the fuel and value of your time. If you are a very careful shopper who does his/her homework, that 10-cent discount per gallon at the pump is a nice bonus. (Of course, check fuel prices nearby, too…)

  38. I primarily shop Kroger and Walmart, so I know my prices. Without the Kroger shopper’s card, Walmart is almost always cheaper. However, my 92 year old mom lives in our household so I use her Kroger plus shopper card for a 10% discount on Kroger brand items… with this discount, Kroger is always less on store brands. I find the quality of either Kroger or Walmart store brands to be as good as national brands. For branded items, that are not on sale, I buy them at Walmart which is usually substantially cheaper than Kroger on these items.

    So the lesson here is to get your granny to get a Kroger Plus card for you to use. You will get a 10% discount instead of 5%.

    As for gas, the 10 cents a gallon is a nice cut off Kroger already discounted gas.

    My wife found a place to buy a $25 gas card for $20 (20% discount). You can buy 3 a quarter each for Shell, Mobil or BP. http://www.funfamilyrewards.com However BEWARE, the reward program costs $10 a month… but they have many other rewards, so, if you use them, that could make this a good deal.

  39. I notice a few folks in this thread say they don’t like WM. I hear this occasionally and am curious to hear what specific WM practices you don’t like.

  40. WAKE UP AND SMELL THE ROSES. KROGER OFFERS .10 PER GALLON OFF WHEN YOU PURCHASE 100.00 IN GROCERIES ETC. . WHEN YOU PAY FOR YOUR GAS WITH THE KROGER CREDIT CARD YOU GET AN ADDITIONAL .05 OFF AT THE PUMP. WHEN YOU USE YOUR KROGER CREDIT CARD FOR PURCHASES AT OTHER PLACES, HOTELS, RESAURANTS, RETAIL STORES THEY GIVE YOU POINTS FOR DOLLARS SPENT. WE RECENTLY RECEIVED KROGER CHECKS FOR $35.00. IN ADDITION WE PAY OUR CREDIT CARDS OFF IN FULL EACH MONTH SO WE USE THEIR MONEY FOR FREE.THEY ALSO HAVE SENIOR CITIZEN TUESDAY WITH 5% OFF YOUR PURCHASES. WE ALSO GET KROGER COUPONS THROUGH THE MAIL FOR 10% AND 10.00 OFF GROCERY PURCHASES WHEN YOU SPEND 100.00. THEY HAVE RECENTY STARTED COMPOUNDING YOUR POINTS FOR GAS WITH A CAP OF 1.00 OFF PER GALLON PLUS THE ADDITIONAL .05 OFF WHEN USING YOUR KROGER CREDIT CARD TO PURCHASE GAS. I RECENTLY GOT .45 OFF A GALLON THE FINAL PRICE PER GALLON WAS 1.99. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU BOUGHT GAS FOR 1.99? LAST WEEK I GOT A COUPON THAT DOUBLED THE FUEL POINTS UP TO 1.00 PER GAL ON ANY ONE TRANSACTION PLUS THE .05 WHEN YOU USE YOUR KROGER CREDIT CARD AT THE PUMP.

  41. I save $.30-$.50 per gallon every month and never by a gocery item at the store. If you really want to be frugal, purchase gift cards for the places you go every day month, which a lot of times earn double-points (and pay for them with your rewards card, that you pay off via online checking as soon as you get home). For example, before school season we have to buy clothes for the kids, so we purchase Kohls or Target gift cards to use for the clothes puchase. This gives me the fuel points at the same price I would spending at either store anyway. I also end up eating lunch out quite a bit, and I purchase gift cards for those places as well. I have a few more cards to carry in my wallet as a result of this, but saving .$50 a gallon on an 18 Gallon tank filled every week adds up.

  42. Kroger’s prices may be higher than Wal-Mart’s, but when you shop at Kroger, you support the union men and women who work there. America is strong when unions are strong, so for me, slightly higher prices are worth it.

  43. Unbelievable that an employee or any empolyees spouse would take their business to another store complaining that they actually save more money?? You should be supporting the store that gives him a paycheck. How much do you think it costs to cover your health insurance? Do you think the empolyer gets that for free?? You should be grateful and supporting the store that pays your bills. Anyway I wouldn’t pay a penny for Walmarts cancer causing meat. Blah!!!

  44. When going to Kroger, which I love, I buy the meats they have on sale that week. I always get better prices on meats than at Walmart. If it’s not on sale, I don’t buy it. It will probably be on sale the next week. As far as paper products, I use Dollar General and stuff like coffee or Truvia (natural sweetner from stevia plant), I buy at Walmart. I like the produce section at Kroger as well. I can’t find the same products at Walmart all the time. They do have good sales all the time and with coupons, you can do well.

  45. Lets look at the big picture though. Krogers is union. They pay the employees a fair waige but more importantly they offer benifits to there employees. Look at wallmart who hires two part time employees for minimum wage so they don’t have to offer insurance. That employee then gets on welfare and foodstamps to help them get by. Who pays for that. Tax payers. So you either spend more at krogers and help out the people that work there or you shop at wallmart and help ruin our economy and raise taxes. Just remember when u shop at krogers you are paying more because they do more for there employees.

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