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Published: Saturday, 12/6/2008

Chrysler gas cards' value slips


Surprisingly, some people are longing for the bad old days of last summer when gasoline prices shot up above $4 a gallon.

Remember Chrysler LLC's "Let's Refuel America!" Program over the summer? Car buyers had the choice of taking a rebate on their vehicle purchase or picking up a gas card entitling them to three years of gasoline at the low price of $2.99 a gallon.

Now, that's not looking like such a great deal. The current average price for regular is $1.78 per gallon, generally less than that in the Toledo area.

The offer was a direct response to customer fears that the high fuel prices would continue. Chrysler officials described the program as an "insurance policy" against exorbitant gas prices that would give drivers enough fuel at $2.99 per gallon to travel up to 12,000 miles per year for three years.

The customer's best choice - the gas deal or a cash rebate - for potential savings depended upon the kind of vehicle bought. Chrysler reports that, nationally, only 7.3 percent of the buyers took the gasoline option.

As gas prices slip below $2 nationally, those who chose the fuel option will come up short if they use the card now.

"What consumers got in the program was 12,000 miles' worth of gas at $2.99 a gallon, so it's best for now not to use the card until the prices hit $2.99 or more again," said Yvonne Malmgren, manager of global sales and incentive communications for Chrysler.

Chrysler officials did not say what would happen if the firm, which is seeking government aid, goes out of business.

Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Don Hammonds is a reporter for the Post-Gazette.

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