(Deletes paragraph five, which said the program covered 18 states in 2011; it covered 20 states in 2011, as will be the case in 2012)
Aug 29 (Reuters) - Walmart will soon cut gasoline prices by up to 15 cents per gallon for drivers in 20 U.S. states who pay with its cards in a bid to appeal to loyal shoppers hit by big price increases at the pump.
Patrons paying with a Walmart MoneyCard or Walmart credit card will save 15 cents per gallon from Aug. 31 through Dec. 24, while others who use a Walmart gift card will get 10 cents off, `Wal-Mart Stores Inc said on Wednesday.
The promotion comes as Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, tries to attract shoppers heading into the holiday season. Last week, Walmart said it would bring back layaway a month early, giving U.S. shoppers under economic pressure more time to pay for holiday gifts.
The latest "gas rollback," at more than 1,000 gas stations, follows a similar 2011 program that ran for a longer period of time.
Last year's promotion ran from June 29 through Christmas Eve.
Gasoline prices are not at record highs but have been rising in recent months and jumped this week as Hurricane Isaac threatened to batter the U.S. oil refining belt. Any significant damage to refineries or extended outages could push gas prices higher.
After Hurricane Katrina, a Category 3 storm, battered the Gulf coast in 2005, U.S. gas prices jumped more than 45 cents in a single week.
The average price for regular gasoline was $3.80 on Wednesday morning, up from nearly $3.49 a month ago and $3.61 a year earlier, according to AAA data. In July 2008, the average price hit an all-time high of $4.11.
Walmart is not alone in trying to woo shoppers with lower-priced gasoline.
Grocery chain Kroger Co often offers gasoline discounts to loyal patrons. Warehouse clubs Costco Wholesale Corp, Wal-Mart's Sam's Club and BJ's Wholesale Club monitor prices at nearby stations and try to match or undercut them to lure drivers.
Walmart's 2011 "gas rollback" plan offered 10 cents off per gallon for patrons using a Walmart gift, money or credit card at participating gas stations. The offer was originally set to run through September, then extended through Dec. 24. (Reporting by Jessica Wohl in Chicago; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)
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