With poor credit — a credit score hovering around 500 to 600 — your primary focus should include rebuilding your credit score. With that said, there’s still opportunity to build your credit while earning back rewards on essentials, including gas. Here are four credit building cards that can also earn you some cash back on your gas purchases.
Best gas credit cards for bad credit
If you have bad credit, your largest and safest selection of viable credit building cards are secured credit cards. Unsecured credit building cards are rare, though have begun creeping onto the market in greater numbers since 2020.
Quick look at the best gas credit cards for bad credit
The Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card is a powerful new secured card that earns 1.5% cash back on all purchases. This is a terrific cash back rate for a secured credit card and one that few other secured cards can match.
You won't pay an annual fee to use this card.
Earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases with no earning cap.
Get automatically considered for a credit limit increase after 6 months of responsible card use.
High APR. The ongoing APR for this card is rather high at 26.99% variable.
The consistently superb Discover it® Secured offers a solid rewards rate on gas and has arguably the best signup bonus among secured cards. As a cardholder, you can check your TransUnion FICO score for free each month. Discover will also review your account monthly starting at eight months to see if it can return your security deposit while you continue using your card.
2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, then 1%.
1% cash back on all other purchases.
First-year cashback match.
It hurts to pay late. Your first late fee is waived, but making subsequent late or returned payments could result in fees as high as $40.
Time limit for balance transfers. If you want to take advantage of the intro balance transfer APR, your transfers must post to your account within the first months.
Balance transfer APR
10.99% intro for the first 6 months (then 22.99% variable)
Discover will match cash back earned at the end of your first card year
This card and the SunTrust Secured Credit Card with Cash Rewards offer the same bonus rewards rate on gas. However, the SunTrust Secured Credit Card with Cash Rewards has a higher annual spending cap for bonus cash back. Furthermore, its second bonus category is groceries, which can be more useful for everyday spending. Take its annual fee into account, though, which is $32.
2% cash back on up to $6,000 spent each year on qualifying gas and grocery purchases, then 1%.
1% cash back on other qualifying purchases.
Free monthly FICO score.
$32 annual fee. Use your card regularly to offset the cost with rewards.
Stiff penalties. Late and returned payments can set you back by up to $39.
This card offers 1 Flexpoint per dollar you spend, including on gas. There's no annual fee, and you'll get an APR on all balances of 13.74% variable. That's a very low rate for a secured card. Products of this type usually come with APRs above 20%.
No annual fee.
1x Flexpoint for every dollar you spend.
13.74% variable APR on all balances.
Membership is required. You do have to be a member of the credit union to qualify for the card, even before you apply.
Your car may be required as collateral. The required documents form mentions that you may be required to provide them power of attorney over your vehicle. Call before you apply to see if this is necessary for your application.
You'll earn 1x LATAM Airlines point per dollar you spend, including on gas. As you accumulate points, you can later redeem them for LATAM flights. And because the airline is part of the Oneworld Alliance, you can use your rewards for flights on airlines such as British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Iberia.
$0 intro annual fee for the first card year, then $25.
1x points on all purchases.
5,000 points after you use your card for the first time.
10% discount on your first LATAM purchase, with a maximum of $500 per calendar year.
High APR. High APR: The ongoing APR for this card is 22.99% variable, which is higher than the industry average of 16%.
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($25 thereafter)
How to choose the best gas credit card for bad credit
The available choices for gas cards are rather slim if you have bad credit. To make picking the right card easier, you’ll want to make your decision based on a few factors:
Can you afford an annual fee? An annual fee can eat into your rewards and can hurt if you have poor credit. If you decide to pay for a card, consider whether the rewards will outweigh the cost.
Do you want to redeem on travel? Though unusual for a secured card, the LATAM offering earns points you can redeem on travel through a variety of airlines. It can pay to go with the LATAM Visa Secured if you often fly with Oneworld Alliance airlines or plan on continuing to build LATAM points after you’ve rebuilt your credit score.
Are you spending on more than just gas? The cards from Discover and SunTrust each offer accelerated cash back on gas and one other category. Consider where you typically spend, and whether it’ll bring you bonus rewards. The SDFCU and LATAM cards don’t offer accelerated rewards, but you’ll earn at least 1 point per dollar you spend on all purchases.
Prioritize your credit score first and rewards second
Gas rewards should be lower on your priority list when it comes to picking a secured card. That goes for all rewards, in fact. If your main goal is to build your credit score, you should prioritize a card with the terms that fit your financial circumstances, even if it doesn’t offer gas rewards. For most consumers, this will include the following attributes.
A modest or achievable security deposit.
The card reports to all three major credit bureaus.
As few card fees as possible.
As few penalties as possible.
A path to a credit limit increase or card upgrade.
If a gas rewards secured card checks all of these boxes for you, or there are some features you don’t especially care about (such as card upgrades), then feel free to shoot for that card. Just remember: a non-secured gas card will earn you bigger rewards than a secured version, so getting your credit to a place where you can take your pick of powerful gas cards should be your top priority.
Compare gas credit cards for bad credit
There aren’t a great number of gas credit cards for bad credit on the market, so comparing them side-by-side is a simple way to see which one works best for your needs. For a closer look, select up to four credit cards and click Compare for a side-by-side comparison.
You have a few card options for earning rewards on gas while rebuilding your credit score. However, make sure you prioritize rebuilding your credit over any potential rewards. If there aren’t any cards here that meet your needs, check out other secured cards to find a wider assortment.
Kevin Joey Chen is a credit cards, banking and investments writer whose work and analysis have appeared on CNN, U.S. News & World Report, Business.com, Lifehacker and CreditCards.com. He's passionate about helping you get your finances in order by expertly navigating cutting-edge financial tools — including credit cards, apps and budgeting software.
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