Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Thorntons fuel rewards a new player in Manatee County

Drivers looking for something extra while paying a little less at the pump have a new option in Manatee County.

Thorntons gas station opened over the weekend on the corner of State Road 64 and 48th Street Court E. It is the first station for the Louisville-based company south of the Sunshine Skyway.

Most in Manatee County are familiar with the Fuel Perks program offered by Winn-Dixie to provide discounts off of Shell gas if you buy groceries. That program gives a 5 cent per gallon discount for every $50 spent at Winn-Dixie. Some products can give bonus points, too. Points expire during the following months, but if a family plays their shopping cart and trips right, it can result in a hefty discount.

Thorntons offers something a little different, and it's not tied to any grocery store.

The company's Refreshing Rewards program has three tiers. The first tier gives new members a 10-cent per gallon discount for every fill-up during the first 30 days of membership. It also offers certain perks on items you buy the most in the convenience store and patrons are automatically entered in a sweepstakes. The program also has a companion smartphone app both for iOS and Android.

When I signed up today, the program also gave me a discount on 44-ounce fountain drink or FizzFreez  -- the Thorntons equivalent of a Slurpee. The cost is just 99 cents for that jumbo drink, and it looks like that can be redeemed 100 times.

After 10 visits to the store, the fuel discounts go away with the exception of  a 10-cents per gallon discount on your birthday. That's an awfully long ways away for anyone with a June birthday like myself. The store will also email you receipts and send price alerts when fuel drops. However, in the meantime, there will be discounts for items in the store that might be equal to a gas discount anyway.

Once you hit 25 visits, this triggers the VIP level giving a 3 cents per gallon discount on every visit. If you only get gas once a week, and happen to stop at the one Thorntons in Manatee County each time, this will take you about six months to reach -- meaning patrons go five months without a discount after that first month.

If you have a job near Brandon or Clearwater, and a long commue it might be more attainable, especially with Thorntons in Largo, Clearwater, Brandon, Riverview and Carrollwood. 

Which fuel rewards program is the better deal? Add your thoughts below.

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