Gas rewards app GetUpside launches in Baltimore area

A mobile app designed to save drivers money on gas has expanded service to the Baltimore area.

Washington-based GetUpside, started by former Google product managers, says it has signed up 125 service stations — including brands such as Shell, Gulf, Crown and Citgo — in the city and surrounding counties.

The app lets drivers see participating service stations’ offers of cash back on gas purchases, as much as 25 cents per gallon. Customers can select an offer, buy gas at that station with a credit or debit card and download a photo of their receipt to the app. The savings is deposited in users’ GetUpside accounts. Balances can be cashed out through PayPal or a check, or redeemed for gift cards.

“We want to help consumers save money in their everyday lives on things they buy every day,” said COO Wayne Lin. “We also help merchants grow relationships with their customers.”

Lin co-founded the company with other former employees of tech startup Opower, including Alex Kinnier, now GetUpside’s CEO. Opower was sold to Oracle in 2016, when Lin, Kinnier and others left to start the gas rewards app.

Lin and Kinnier, who had worked together more than a decade ago at Google, believed they could find new applications for work they had done at Opower, which uses technology to analyze customers’ energy efficiency for utilities. GetUpside started with gas and is adding restaurants and grocery stores to the platform.

The company says that in three years it has launched in 29 cities in 13 states, signed up more than 5,000 gas stations and passed along $5 million in cash-back savings to more than 1 million registered users. That includes about 65,000 users in the Baltimore area. It plans to expand next year to another 30 cities.

Gas stations, which are giving a portion of profits to attract customers, can benefit by boosting business, Lin said. To make it work, the company says it signs up only one gas station in a particular station cluster.

“If we had all three on a corner, they would compete with each other and battle each other to zero profit,” he said. “Our goal is to be good for merchants and good for consumers.”

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