Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Psychological Trickery

The big thing right now (or at least the big thing that I'm noticing) is the increasing use of prepaid gas cards as prizes or rewards. I do know that gas prices are going up, and that people are feeling the pain.

Why would a gas card be an especially attractive prize? A $50 gas card will buy exactly as much gas as $50 in cash, only you may have to drive a bit farther to get to the particular station that takes that card. For instance, on my commute, I could stop easily at a Super America station or a BP station, but if I got a Shell card, I'd need to go a bit out of my way to use it.

I suppose that you could double-dip in rewards programs this way, though. If you purchase the gift card at a grocery store that has a rewards program (assuming the store sells gas gift cards) and then spend the card at a gas station that has a rewards program, you could end up a little bit ahead, but you'd have to be on both sides of that transaction to get the bang for your buck.

Another way to win is if the card were good for a particular number of gallons instead of dollars. That way, if prices go up, you win.

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