Smartfuel cards

We take a look at the new AA Smartfuel discount card.

Recently the AA launched its Smartfuel discount card. It allows cardholders to earn discounts on fuel through their spending at other participating retailers. You don't have to be an AA member to have a card, but members usually get bigger discounts and other benefits.

AA Smartfuel has replaced the AA’s previous rewards programme. Any credits you have on that programme will be used as a discount on your next membership renewal. AA members receive Smartfuel discounts by using their new membership card. Non-AA members will have to apply for a Smartfuel card at aa.co.nz/smartfuel.

How it works

You buy something at a participating retailer and swipe your Smartfuel card at the checkout. A cents per-litre discount (which varies from retailer to retailer) is added to the card.

Each time you use your card the discounts add together to give a total cents-per-litre discount. You can check your current level of discounts on the Smartfuel website.

When you fill up at BP and participating Caltex service stations the total cents-per-litre discount is deducted from the cost of up to 50 litres of fuel. Several people can each use a linked card to accumulate a single discount.

Tricky points

Every time you make a redemption, your accumulated discount is wiped. For example, if the fuel fill is less than the 50-litre maximum, the remaining discount is lost. If you take a discount on a 30-litre fill, the transaction will wipe your current balance clean. You can’t get the same discount on the other 20 litres later. You start accumulating again as you continue spending from the time of redemption. You can't use this discount in conjunction with other discounts – like supermarket fuel discounts.

The card works on a monthly cycle and any unused discounts expire at the end of the month after the month they were awarded. So discounts you earn in December will expire at the end of January.

We say

  • Depending on your personal spending patterns, the fuel discounts could be worthwhile. But don’t spend at participating retailers just to get them. You may find the same or a similar product more cheaply elsewhere.
  • Keep track of your discount cycle. Losing a decent-sized discount would be really annoying.

Something for nothing?
We like the concept of a really good fuel discount for just doing the shopping. But there’s rarely something for nothing – the discounts have to be paid for somehow. So watch you aren’t paying too much for the goods that earn the discount.

You need to be smart in your shopping and not just rely on AA Smartfuel to do the thinking for you.

Here’s an example: the November promo for the AA Smartfuel card says if you buy a 4-litre pack of SAE 15W/40 Castrol GTX Modern Engine Oil from BP you qualify for a 20c discount on a maximum of 50 litres of fuel. That can save you $10 on your fuel purchase.

We found this oil in a BP Wellington service station for $49.99. Just down the road, at Repco, we found the same oil for $10 less ($39.99). Both prices appeared to be the normal price for each store. But in the same Repco oil rack we found an equally suitable for modern engines 4-litre pack of Shell Helix HX5 15/W40 oil on special at $32.99.

Buying a different oil that will do exactly the same job saves you $17. Now that’s smart!

 

More information

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Member Comments


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Still wondering Posted by: Bru 30 Jan 2012 1:58pm

Good to see AA front up with a response.I do feel though that the old scheme was better for me since I could easily acquire a fuel discount voucher with the weekly shop, sometimes up to 30c a litre with plenty of time to use it, plus derive some benefit from my AA card with a membership discount. This has now been lost, thus AA are making money. I wonder how the membershp numbers are going these days if they have to look for extra revenue? Added to this I am now being spammed with extra emails encouraging me to spend monmey on things I don't need.

A 50 year plua member Posted by: Elderlybloke 27 Jan 2012 9:13pm

The old scheme was a good one, but the new one leaves me cold.
Too restrictive and not worth the trouble to get involved with.

I am disappointed with AA.

not as good as previous system Posted by: Michael H 20 Jan 2012 11:49am

I have already emailed AA to say that the new system is worse for those who used New World vouchers at BP and got Reward Points discount on the sub. The response didn't really answer my point. I may have to switch to Caltex unless I have a New World voucher worth more than 6 cents per litre.

another hear hear for negative comments Posted by: Jendawn 17 Jan 2012 5:53pm

I too am a long-standing AA Member. I find the new card too complicated - but maybe I'm not 'smart' enough to understand! I do not like being cojoled into purchasing items I don't really need and I think this is the aim of the new AA 'Smartcard" I don't think it's smart at all.
I prefer to have any 'bonus' earned by purchasing my fuel from a participating fuel company, to be credited to my membership subscription. The AA should stick to its knitting - it's a motorist club, not a shopping club.
I shall not be renewing my membership of the AA when it becomes due later in 2012.

here here.about the negative comments Posted by: Shirley J Bell 16 Jan 2012 9:50pm

I too,am along standinf a member and just having read all the comments whole heartedly agree . The new card is too complex,I valued the annual sub discount andnow as a super received these things are a great help. Really considering not renewining my membership unless there is more incentive
shirley j bell

I feel cheated at BP. Posted by: Fireflynz 12 Jan 2012 9:09pm

The aa card rules are just too complicated. i have bought two lots of $70 petrol from BP and received NO discount from the AA card. Caltex would have given me a discount on the AA card and i could hve used any supermarket voucher at caltex. Shell gives me 4c off plus flybuys. So i have today resolved never to buy from BP again.
By the way petrol in auckland was $210 today and $199 in Rotorua when I bought more in the afternoon. Why such a difference?

A response from the AA Posted by: Consumer Staff 10 Jan 2012 1:43pm

Ian Sutcliffe, General Manager – AA Smartfuel, has provided this response to the comments below.


Thanks everyone for your feedback which we have taken on board.

AA Smartfuel was created to enable AA Members and all New Zealand motorists to save money on their fuel. Since its launch on 7 November, it has already provided about 350,000 motorists with more than $1 million in fuel discounts.

The benefits for AA Members are considerable – the value of the fuel discounts earned by Members is already more than three times more than it would have been under the previous AA Rewards loyalty programme for the same period, and Members are redeeming fuel discounts at twice the rate they would with AA Rewards.

That said, it is still early days and there is much to do. AA Smartfuel will soon announce new Partners, enabling motorists to earn, accumulate and redeem even more fuel discounts. Ensuring motorists better understand how to use AA Smartfuel to save money will also be a priority in the New Year.

Our fuel partners, BP and Caltex, have taken different approaches to the earning and redeeming of fuel discounts. BP are promoting regular shop offers as a way to earn AA Smartfuel discounts, and incentives for redemption on certain days. Caltex is issuing a 6 cents per litre fuel discount every time an AA Member (4 cents for non-Members) buys $40 or more of fuel, which can be accumulated or redeemed.

Motorists can redeem their fuel discounts as frequently as they like. At the end of this month all fuel discounts earned in November, and not already redeemed, will expire. We have already sent a reminder email to motorists about this, and many motorists are regularly checking their discount balance online or via our text message service.

If you have any questions or comments, please email me ians@aasmartfuel.co.nz

Progress? Posted by: Michelangelo 29 Dec 2011 2:21pm

Just another "clever" scheme to get consumers to buy stuff they probably don't need.
Who needs ANOTHER card? And who wants to learn a bunch of silly rules designed to take away rewards if you don't cash in on time or your tank is bigger than 50 litres?
Call this progress, AA? I don't think so!

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