Collecting AIR MILES At Shell: Still Worth It?

collectingairmilesatshellstillworthit.jpgRoyal Dutch Shell, the second largest Big Oil company in the world, operates about 1,300 Shell branded retail stations in Canada.

Rather than offer their own rewards program like Petro-Canada’s Petro-Points or Esso Extra, Shell is a sponsor of the AIR MILES Reward Program. Customers that fill up at Shell can earn AIR MILES on eligible purchases at participating stations in addition to the miles that can be earned with other retail partners.

Shell recently changed their rewards structure yet again. It used to be that you earned 1 mile for every $20 spent on gas. Then, it became 1 mile on the first $30 and 1 mile per $20 spent in the same transaction thereafter.

Now, getting that first mile is much easier with only a 15L purchase required, but chances are it will be the only mile you earn on a single fill up. Have they gone too far with the changes this time?

Read on to see exactly how earning miles at Shell works and how you can maximize your rewards.

Earning AIR MILES with Shell

With Shell, members earn AIR MILES reward miles in the following increments.

Purchase Type

Points

Minimum 15 L fuel purchase in a single transaction

1

For every $10 purchased in-store in a single transaction

1

Oil Change Service: $14.99 or Less

2

Oil Change Service: $15.00 - $29.99

3

Oil Change Service: $30.00 or more

5

Getting More Miles Faster!

With each AIR MILE being worth about 11 cents, that single lonely mile per fill up is looking pretty pitiful as a meaningful discount on your gas purchase.

Fortunately, there are a few ways to amp up your earnings:

Collecting Bonuses

Members can earn more miles through special promotions. Offers vary by location, but can include up to 20X the AIR MILES on purchases of varying grades of fuel or up to 5X the reward miles on convenience store purchases. Current promotional offers are available via Shell’s How to Earn site.

Related: How To Earn AIR MILES Really Fast

Do Multiple Transactions

The new 1 mile per transaction rule is a real bummer, but you can actually earn more miles than before if you are willing to take the time to split up your gas purchase into multiple transactions.

For example, if you have enough room in your tank for a 45L fill up, then you can stop filling up after just 15L and repeat the process 3 times. That sounds like a big waste of time, and it is, but if you use the pay at the pump feature it doesn’t really take that much longer to triple your rewards.

This technique is best combined with a multiplier bonus like 20x the miles on VPower fuel. The only thing to watch out for there, is that most bonuses require a minimum 25L purchase. Therefore, to get your bonus you would need to split your purchase in 25L increments.

Therefore, if you were filling up for 50L, instead of getting just 1 mile at the regular rate, you could get 40 AIR MILES by taking advantage of the 20x bonus twice. That’s 40x the usual amount.

Refuel Rewards

Regularly refuelling at Shell comes with additional bonus rewards. Swiping the loyalty card with every fuel purchases can give members a monthly bonus in the following increments:

Purchases

Points

Minimum 225 L fill up with any grade of fuel

10

Minimum 500 L fill up with any grade fuel

25

Shell Branded Master Cards

Members can fast track their earning potential with the no fee Shell AIR MILES MasterCard from BMO. Collectors can double dip on everyday purchases by swiping the AIR MILES loyalty card in addition to paying by credit. Members receive:

  • 400 bonus miles after your first purchase
  • 1.25x the miles on purchases at Shell
  • 1 AIR MILES reward mile for every $20 spent on the card
  • 25% off participating National Car and Alamo car rental locations
  • Extended warranty and purchase protection

Related: Best Credit Cards For Buying Gas

For an annual fee of $99, Shell AIR MILES World Mastercard cardholders get:

  • 1,000 AIR MILES bonus miles.
  • 1.25x AIR MILES on purchases at Shell
  • 1 AIR MILES for every $15 spent on the card
  • 2x AIR MILES and 25% off participating National Car and Alamo car rental locations
  • Exclusive 25% flight discount when redeeming AIR MILES for flights within North America.
  • Travel coverage covering rental car damage, flight delay and baggage insurance.

These two Shell branded cards from BMO are far from the best AIR MILES credit cards out there though. I suggest you check out my AIR MILES credit card rankings article if you are interested in maximizing your miles this way.

Redeeming Miles Earned At Shell

Redeeming miles collected at Shell can be redeemed the same way AIR MILES earned any other way can be: for flights, car rentals, merchandise and much more. Rewards with the program start at 25 reward miles. There are now two ways to redeem them:

  • Online with AIR MILES Dream Rewards or
  • In-store with AIR MILES Cash Rewards.

By default, members earn miles in the Dream account but can allocate a percentage of the reward collection towards their CASH account to instantly redeem for cash. If, for example, you earn 20 miles on a given purchase and you’ve opted to split the points 50/50, 10 points will be allocated to AIR MILES Cash balance with the remainder in Dream. The choice is yours.

Related: Get the Most Value from Your AIR MILES

AIR MILES Dream Rewards follows the more traditional rewards redemption structure. Reward miles are redeemed online for travel bookings, activities and merchandise.

AIR MILES Cash Rewards are a newer addition to the program that allows members to instantly redeem reward miles in the CASH balance towards everyday purchases at participating Sponsor locations. AIR MILES are redeemed in the following increments:

AIR MILES CASH

Savings

Points Required

AIR MILES Cash

$ 10.00

95

Don’t Lose Those AIR MILES

It used to be the case that AIR MILES did not expire. Unlike other rewards programs, unused AIR MILES now expire after 5 years due to changes announced to the program in 2011. This means that the earliest your AIR MILES will expire is on December 31, 2016. If you have been saving reward miles for a rainy day, make sure to redeem them before they disappear at the end of next year.

To Shell or Not to Shell

An average family spending $2,000/year on regular fuel at a cost of $1.05 consumes roughly 1,904 L. Assuming the average family drives a small car with a 50L tank, each top up at the station would result in 38 AIR MILES for the year, not factoring in any promotional offers.

That’s not good for very much at all. It would take $5,000 spent on regular, filling up an empty 50L tank with $1.05 regular fuel, to come up with the 95 AIR MILES required for $10 off at the register. That’s a whopping 0.2% return - again, not a very big incentive. Suffice it to say, collecting AIR MILES rewards exclusively through Shell is likely the worst possible method to get rewards on your fuel purchases.

Related: My Simple Strategy for Maximizing AIR MILES

Now, if instead your car needs supreme fuel at $1.15 per litre and you were able to fill up only on 20x days while splitting all your purchases into multiple transactions, the story would be very different. Then, the same $2,000 would yield 1391 AIR MILES. That’s worth about $146 in rewards, or a return on spending of 7.3% - pretty decent!

The benefit of collecting rewards miles with Shell rests in the collective value of the AIR MILES program as a whole. Collecting AIR MILES from Shell is meant to enhance point collection offerings. With over 120 sponsors and countless opportunities to collect bonus reward miles via promotional offers, AIR MILES add up quickly if you frequently shop at retailers that are part of the program.

Are you adding to your AIR MILES balance by collecting AIR MILES with Shell?

Hot Credit Card Deals This Month:

  • Best Ever - 25,000 Aeroplan Miles FREE + Easy 5K Bonus
    • 30,000 total bonus points - worth about $900 when converted to Aeroplan!
    • Exclusive Air Canada perks when redeeming your miles:
      • Free checked bag
      • Priority check-in and boarding
      • 1 pass to the Maple Leaf Lounge annually
    • First year free - this link only
  • NEW - Tangerine's Credit Card Gets You The MOST No-Fee Cash Back
    • 1% earned on all purchases with
    • 2% earned on up to 3 bonus categories YOU choose
    • 4% earned on your bonus categories for 3 months
    • No limits on cash back earned, even the 4% sign up bonus
    • No annual fee ever
  • 2,000 AIR MILES For Free!
    • 2,000 mile bonus is worth $210 when used as AIR MILES cash
    • One of the best AIR MILE earning rates of any card on the market
    • Low annual fee and low minimum income requirements
    • First year free

Comments

Michael @ So You Think You Can Save's picture

Shell gas is so expensive that I don't think I've filled up at one of their stations but once in the last fifteen years...and that time was only because we were towing the camper and the Shell station was the only one in the cluster of stations that was convenient for me to pull in and out of. At least here in the States, I have to think that any 'rewards' you're getting are watered down with how much you're overpaying for the gasoline.

January 19, 2016 @ 10:28 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Around here, almost all the gas stations have the same prices always for regular fuel. So really the only difference between them is the rewards you can get. Good observation though about keeping an eye on the price.

January 19, 2016 @ 10:56 am
Jen
Jen's picture

I much prefer the Aeroplan program, and always gas up at Esso! The airmiles program seems so long to build up points, that even after having the card for years, I am still under 1000 points...Aeroplan program offers much more.

January 19, 2016 @ 7:02 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Yes, I agree that Aeroplan is more valuable, but you have to consider that each AIR MILE is worth from 3-5x as much as an Aeroplan mile (depending on how you do the calculations). If you redeem your Aeroplan miles for gift cards, etc, then an AIR MILE is worth 10x as much. Even still, Aeroplan is much more valuable and easy to collect IMO.

That said, I never collect Aeroplan at Esso because collecting Esso Extra and using them for car washes gives you a higher return on your spending (except maybe if you use your Aeroplan miles for first class travel or really expensive routes).

January 20, 2016 @ 9:48 am
Code, from coldlake alberta
Code, from coldlake alberta's picture

Buy Superstore gas. You get 7 cents per litre, not 11 cents per fill. I always stop at the litre to max my discount and recently filled in Edmonton for 66.4 cents less 7 cents or 50.4 cents. Sure you have to spend the 7 cents in Super store, no frills or extra food but what a deal . 8 - 40 litres fills gets me $20 bucks and you cannot do that with air miles. And we all use gasoline. Just get a free PC Debit card. (had mine for over 20 years and have never paid one cent in transaction fees or service charges) or PC Master Card and you get the 7 cents. Satisfied with 3.5 cents? Use any credit card or cash and get a PC points cards free. $1.25 per 40 litres is still real money

January 30, 2016 @ 1:24 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Don't believe they do the doubling here in Atlantic Canada Code, but for those who have that as an option - it is a good deal. Finding a close SuperStore gas bar can be a bit of a pain as well. I had nearby at my previous residence, but now I don't.

February 01, 2016 @ 12:56 pm
Veronica
Veronica's picture

I manage to rack up a lot of Aeroplan miles by putting business expenses on my credit card. I’ve found that the best way to get a good bang for the buck is to travel business class on points and take full advantage of the stopover and open-jaws privileges that Aeroplan allows. My wife and I recently travelled to Germany and Spain; I think the cost was about 160,000 points for the two of us. When I looked up the cost of the same ticket paying regular fare, it worked out to more than $8,000 apiece, if memory serves correctly. If my figures are right (and I’m reasonably sure they are), that works out to an ROI (as a previous poster called it) of about 10%. Some of the “travel on any airline, any time” credit cards I’ve seen limit the total of the free portion of the ticket to $1,200. Travelling business class, Aeroplan does provide good value, although seats are becoming increasingly difficult to book.

February 15, 2016 @ 6:47 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Yes, Aeroplan can represent some great value especially when you use your miles as you've described. This article is about AIR MILES at Shell though, which is a different topic...

February 15, 2016 @ 3:10 pm

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