MyGallons: Save Money on Gas?

MyGallons save money on gasI recently came across a website called MyCallons.com when browsing the Finance Forum at Fatwallet.com. What got my attention is what this site promises to help its members save money on gas:

Save money by pre-purchasing gas at today’s prices, then fill up with your MyGallons Card when prices rise. No matter how high prices at the pump will go, the price of the gallons you’ve purchased will be locked-in.

With the national average price of one gallon of regular gas tops $4.10 (gasbuddy.com) and the surging food prices, any savings on gas could help. So I decided to take a look. Actually, the idea of lock-in price isn’t new. In the past, my local heating oil provider used to let us pre-purchase heating oil in the summer during the off season to lock-in low prices. What MyGallons does follows exactly the same idea: Pre-purchase a certain amount of gas at current price in anticipation that the gas price will go up in the future and use the pre-purchased gas to save money if the price does go up.

This idea seems pretty cool given how much the gas price has gone up this year and if we consider the $170/barrel prediction made by the president of OPEC recently, it does make a lot of sense to lock-in some gas now when oil is traded at $135 a barrel. But can use MyGallons really save me money gas? After going through related information on their website, my answer is I am not so sure.

What It Takes

To take advantage of the locked-in price provided by MyGallons, you will need to become a member and that isn’t free. A MyGallons membership will cost you $29.95 a year for auto-refill program and $39.95 for manual-refill program. The difference between the auto- and manual-refill program is that with auto-refill program, MyGallons will automatically pre-purchase gas for you when the balance on your card is below 15 gallons.

How the Pre-Purchase Price Is Determined

According to MyGallons, the pre-purchase price is determined based on “the current average price of self-serve regular unleaded gas in your home area.” Since it’s an average price, it could be higher or lower than the price at which you usually fill up your tank. For me, I always get gas at one particular station and there are plenty of stations in my town sell gas at higher prices though the one I use isn’t always the lowest. In this case, the possibility of overpaying with the pre-purchase price is pretty high.

Fee, Fee, and More Fees

The whole purpose of this MyGallons is to save money, but before you can save any money, you have to pay a price (membership fee). In addition to the membership fee, I also found there quite a few other fees that could erode your savings. For example, from their FAQ section, there are

  • $15 overdraft fee: If you use manual refill but don’t pay attention to your gas balance, you could face the $15 fee when you fill up your car at the pump and run over your balance.
  • $1.95 reload fee: This seems to be ridiculous but you do have to almost $2 every time you pre-purchase gas with a credit card.
  • Locked-in price only good at local: Adjustment will be made if you use your MyGallons card to get gas outside your home area.

What if Gas Price Goes Down

MyGallons is supposed to save you money on gas when the price goes up, like what we saw since the beginning of 2008. However, what if you buy some gas at the peak and the price starts to come down? MyGallons says you can keep the gas forever, hoping the price someday will go back up again, as long as you keep your membership (meaning you have to pay the annual membership due). You can also request a refund for unused gas. However, you will not get all your money back if the price indeed goes down and you want to get out because “you can request a refund for the amount you paid for your unused gallons or your MyGallons price at the time of the request, whichever is less.”

Is It Worth It?

After going through the available information on their website, I don’t think this is the right product for me to save on gas after all the fees. And from the way the pre-perchase price is determined, I may not save money even if I use the auto-refill program. I would rather find the lowest price I can in my area and use gas rewards credit cards such as Chase Freedom Card and AMEX TrueEearnings Card to earn a guaranteed 3% cash back.

What do you think?

BTW, from their website, it seems that they have some issues with their payment processing network. Also, when I first visited their website, I remember I saw a list of gas stations that acccept their MyGallons card, but that information is no longer there.

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9 Responses to “MyGallons: Save Money on Gas?”

  1. Eden |  Jul 10, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    Wow! That looks like an absolutely horrible ‘service’. I’m glad you laid out the facts to help save people from falling for something like this.

  2. aa |  Jul 10, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    Are you showing us the service that the Better Business Bureau (BBB) rated “F? just last week?

  3. Sun |  Jul 10, 2008 at 11:59 pm

    Eden: Yes, it doesn’t look like it’s a sound business. Actually, it’s more like some people try to cash in on people’s fear of high gas price.

    aa: I am not sure where you got the rate. I just checked BBB and MyGallons.com is still having a NR rating.

  4. Stephen |  Jul 11, 2008 at 12:09 am

    I heard that quote from the BBB too. The local news did a piece on mygallons.com and quoted the “F” rating as well.
    That aside, turns out their “network” of gas retailers is non-existent. They’re in negotiations with getting a network, but have nothing setup yet. So you can’t even use it.

  5. fathersez |  Jul 14, 2008 at 3:15 am

    These guy just seem to be cashing in on a current fad, the fear of rising oil prices.

    Would be interesting to see how these guys fare after a couple of months or so. Wonder if they would still be around.

  6. Wyche128 |  Jul 15, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Not a good service. It’s a shame that people are struggling and these types of deals are offered.

  7. John |  Feb 23, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    It’s the $1.95 reload fee and the 30 cents per gallon adjustment for premium that’s the killer for me. I can see a 3% or 5% adjustment due to the commissions charged by the credit card but only if they offered their own credit service as an alternative. Premium is only 20 cents more per gallon than regular at most gas stations around here and my car requires premium. The reload fee means that the pre-purchase needs to be in as large a quantity as possible thereby negating any opportunity to dollar cost average or use a simple algorithm such as buy a few gallons daily whenever prices are stable or rising and to hold off when the prices are falling. The annual fee does seem high as well, especially since people like firstfuelbank.com charge a one time $1 membership fee, too bad firstfuelbank only serves a small area.