Suzanne Belcher's cart overflowed with Fourth of July staples, moving slowly as she steered the load of buns, snacks, potatoes and more toward a checkout at Giant in West Manchester Township. Starting Tuesday, she can cash in on Monday's $226 purchase by using the grocery chain's Gas Extra Rewards program.
A change that took effect this week allows shoppers to use their gas points any time by the end of the following month.
For example, points earned in July must be redeemed by Aug. 31.
"Hopefully, this means I won't have to wait in long lines when I go to get gas," Belcher said.
In the program, Giant bonus card customers get one point for every $1 they spend. With every 100 points, they earn 10 cents off a gallon of gas. There is no limit on the number of rewards that can be earned.
Giant's previous program operated on a fixed seven-to-eight week cycle, according to spokesman Chris Brand.
Customers shopping at Giant and qualifying for a discount on the last day of the cycle had to redeem the points that day or they would lose them.
Other customers also went to the pumps on the last cycle day to redeem their points before they expired, and that made for a long wait at the gas stations, Brand said.
"Our customers have been vocal about the lines that occur on the last day of Gas Extra Rewards. The change to the Giant Gas Extra Rewards redemption cycle will help alleviate traffic and congestion that has been seen at some of our fuel stations on the final day of redemption," he said.
The new system gives customers at least a month to redeem points.
Fewer gallons: The change also lowers the number of gallons from 30 to 25 that a shopper can get at a discounted price.
"I wish that part didn't change," said West York resident Adam Dorset.
He said he and his family can easily earn enough points in a month to get a free tank of gas and fill up some gas cans.
It's an $18.50 difference Dorset will have to pay if the average gas price in York remains at $3.70 per gallon.
"When you think about it that way, I would've liked them to keep it at 30 gallons," he said.
But the five-gallon decrease won't change the way he shops.
"We've shopped at Giant for years. We'll keep coming here until they kick us out," Dorset said.
The change also won't affect the shopping habits of Dover resident Deirdre Gross.
"Gas rewards or not, I'll keep shopping here. Everyone has their grocery store, and Giant is mine," she said.
—Reach Candy Woodall at firstname.lastname@example.org.