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War of the Gas Discount Programs to Play Out in Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa -- With gas discount programs that partner with grocery store chains on the rise, consumers will have increasingly more opportunities to save -- especially in Iowa, where multiple programs have launched, according to the Des Moines Register.

Hy-Vee recently launched its Fuel Saver program in partnership with Casey's General Stores. Shoppers who buy certain items at Casey's receive fuel discounts that are loaded onto their Fuel Saver cards. Drivers haven't hesitated to take advantage, with one paying for a fill-up that cost only 15 cents.

Additionally, QuikTrip teamed with grocery store chain Dahl's to offer the My Ways to Save card, which provides program members with discounts at QuikTrip and Dahl's gas stations based on the amount customers spend on groceries.

The ability to save so much on gas during a time of rising fuel prices has the potential to substantially ramp up competition.

"It's basically all about price," said Jeff Lenard, spokesman for NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing. "The gas price is almost another form of currency. I've had retailers say they see customers who will step over a nickel or dime in the parking lot and will drive five miles out of their way to save a nickel or dime."

Most drivers choose a gas station based on price, so these partnered savings programs allow gas stations to tap into grocery store brand loyalty. Conversely, grocery stores are able to reach a wider audience that is determined to save on gas, according to the report.

"Gasoline is the most emotional commodity, in my opinion, in the world," Mike Thornbrugh, spokesman for QuikTrip, told the news outlet. "If anybody can save 5, 10, 15 cents every time they fill up, they're going to love it. It's kind of fun to watch."

The Hy-Vee/Casey's program offers discounts when customers purchase items featured in the weekly Fuel Savers ad. There are no purchase restrictions in the QuikTrip/Dahl's program, but rewards come in tiers, with customers who spend $50 to $99 on groceries earning a 4-cent discount; customers who spend $100 to $149 earning a nine-cent discount; and customers who spend more than $150 earning a 15-cent discount.

Those who sign up for a loyalty program are likely to stick with the companies that participate in it, according to Lenard. "If they've been using some program to save money, they'll stay with that program," he said. "Until somebody beats them by a penny."

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