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2019 guide to gas cards: How they work, best gas credit cards
A gas credit card pays you back when you fill up your car.
Frequent gas station trips are usually unavoidable if you’re always on the go. But you can get rewarded each time you pay for fuel — just pick up a gas card.
Our pick for rewards on gas
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American ExpressRead more
Compare gas rewards cards
What is a gas card?
A gas credit card offers rewards when you spend on fuel. These rewards can come in the form of discounts, cash back, points or miles.
For example, a gas card might give you fuel credits that reimburse you after you fill up. Another gas card might offer bonus points as you fill up, which you can redeem for flights, hotel stays and more.
What makes a good gas card?
Generally, the higher the savings or better the rewards, the stronger the gas card.
When should I get a gas card?
There are a few reasons you might want to apply for a gas card. Strongly consider getting a gas credit card if both of these apply to you:
- You spend a lot on gas each month.
A gas credit card will give you a big break on gas costs if you spend several hundred dollars or more each month on gas.
- You pay your balance in full each month.
Pay special attention if you have a gas-station card, as it likely has a very high APR. Paying your balance in full every month lets you avoid paying interest on your purchases. If you carry a balance from month to month, however, you’ll accrue finance charges that will offset your gas rewards.
The best gas credit cards of 2019
With a few exceptions, a general-rewards card is preferable if you want the highest rewards on gas. The PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card is an especially good choice, as it offers a market-leading rate on fuel.
Best for highest rewards rate on gas with a general-rewards card: PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card
Best for gas and travel: Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
Best for gas and groceries: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Best gas station card: Chevron and/or Texaco Techron Advantage Visa® Card
How we selected our top cards
We compared a few factors when selecting the best gas credit cards of 2019. These factors included eligible gas stations, points or cash back earned per dollar spent, rewards point value when redeemed, annual fees, introductory APRs and other perks or features a consumer might look at when selecting a gas credit card. The cards that stood out were some of the top performers in one or several of these areas, earning spots on our list.
What’s changed in 2019
The usual contenders are holding strong this year. Amex continues to offer excellent rewards on everyday purchases. PenFed’s product is still the one to beat, with stellar rewards on gas at the pump.
Two types of credit cards with benefits on gas purchases
There are two major types of credit cards with gas rewards: gas-station cards, which are affiliated with oil companies, and general-rewards cards that offer bonus points, miles or cash back on gas purchases.
Gas-station credit cards
These cards give you discounts or rebates for gas. Most major oil companies — Shell, BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil and the like — offer their own credit cards.
- Here’s an example of a discount:
When you use your card at the pump, you’ll automatically save 10 cents per gallon of gas you buy.
- Here’s an example of a rebate:
When you use your card for non-gas purchases, you’ll earn gas rebates at a 1% rate. After you use your card for eligible gas, your rebates will be redeemed automatically for statement credit.
General-rewards credit cards
These cards aren’t affiliated with specific gas companies, but they offer elevated rewards on general gas purchases.
- For example: A card might offer 4% cash back on gas, which is an excellent rate. It might also offer elevated rewards in different categories, such as travel and dining.
Some rewards credit cards may limit the number of gas purchases you earn elevated rewards on, such as $6,000 annually. Once you’ve reached that threshold, your gas purchases will typically earn rewards at the base rewards rate — usually 1%.
After you accumulate rewards, you can often redeem them for statement credit, bank deposits, gift cards, travel, merchandise or other options offered by your credit card issuer.
Gas credit cards vs. general rewards credit cards
|Gas credit card||Rewards credit card|
|Can often only be used at gas stations affiliated with a single company.||Can be used almost anywhere.|
|May offer instant discounts on gas purchases.||Allows you to accumulate rewards that you can redeem later.|
|Typically has higher interest rates.||May offer lower interest rates. May also offer promotional interest rates on purchases and balance transfers.|
|Potentially low credit limit.||Chance for a higher starting credit limit.|
|Typically, no rewards on gas purchases with other gas stations.||Earn rewards on all gas purchases.|
|May qualify for one even with less-than-perfect credit.||Usually requires good to excellent credit.|
How to choose a gas credit card
Gas benefits are likely most important to you, but other features of each card — such as fees and additional perks — might factor into your decision.
- Decide whether you want to be tied to a specific gas-station brand.
If you get fuel with one company, a gas-station card might offer attractive benefits. Otherwise, you might like a general-rewards card you can use at different gas stations.
- Initial bonus.
For a gas-station credit card, you might receive more fuel credits or a bigger discount on gas purchases during an initial period. For a general-rewards card, you might receive a welcome bonus for spending a certain amount on your card within a specified period.
Gas-station cards tend to have very high APRs. Consider paying off your balance in full each month to avoid expensive finance charges if you end up going with one.
- Annual fee.
If you want to save money, an annual fee might not be worth paying. Look for a card with a low or $0 annual fee. If a card has an annual fee, calculate if your potential for rewards earned will offset the card’s cost.
- Other rewards and perks.
While your primary goal is to find a credit card that will reward you for gas purchases, any other rewards you receive will only sweeten the deal. A general-rewards card is more likely to offer elevated rewards in additional categories.
How to maximize your gas rewards
- Choose a gas card based on nearby gas stations.
It may not be worth burning fuel to drive to a gas station that’s out of the way. If there are no credit cards affiliated with gas stations near you, choose a general-rewards product that pays rewards on all gas purchases, regardless of the brand.
- Watch out for gas stations that charge more for credit-card purchases.
Many gas stations charge different prices for cash and credit-card purchases. Cash purchases get a discount, while credit card purchases are charged a few cents more per gallon.
- Buy all your fuel with your gas card.
You’ll save the most money — and earn the most rewards — when you make your gas purchases exclusively with your gas card.
A gas credit card is a smart choice if you’re constantly filling up. Consider a gas-station card if you buy fuel with one company; otherwise, a general-rewards card may be a better pick.
If you’re not sure if a gas credit card is right for you, check out other rewards cards.
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