Even if you aren’t paying over $4 a gallon for gas, like Southern Californians currently are, you are probably paying more than you would like. It’s just not an expense you can give up or DIY, like brown-bagging your lunch.
You can’t change the pump’s prices, but you can make your gas spending go a little further with the right credit card. We are breaking down the difference between a gas card and gas rewards credit card, so you can decide which is better for your wallet.
Table of Contents
Click the links below to quickly navigate the topics in this article.
- What Is a Gas Credit Card?
- How Do Gas Credit Cards Work?
- Rewards Credit Cards Versus Oil-Company Gas Cards
- How To Choose a Credit Card for Gas Rewards
- How Much Money Can a Gas Credit Card Save You?
What Is a Gas Credit Card?
A gas-branded credit card is one issued by the oil companies, usually in partnership with a bank. Many gas-branded cards can only be used at that fuel station, but research each fuel companies’ offerings for exact rules. For example, Shell offers a Fuel Rewards Credit Card and a Fuel Rewards Mastercard. The latter can be used on non-Shell purchases and earns rebates on dining and select expenditures.
Gas credit cards usually do not have any fees and allow you to save a set amount of cents off of each gallon of gas purchased. Some cards come with rewards on non-fuel purchases made at the fuel station too.
How Do Gas Credit Cards Work?
Gas credit cards work similarly to a store credit card. For example, if you have a Kohl’s or JCPenney credit card, you know that your card is only useful at those stores. Like all other credit cards, you will be required to pay a monthly minimum and any amount that is carried over to the next month will earn interest. Gas credit cards generally have a higher interest rate than average rewards cards.
Here are some of the most popular gas credit cards available:
- Shell Fuel Rewards Credit Card
- Techron Advantage Credit Card
- ExxonMobil Smart Card
- Sunoco Rewards Credit Card
Since oil-company cards are limited, individuals with fair credit have an easier time being approved. Gas cards are a good option for those who have fair credit or those who are looking to rebuild their credit. Since you can only use the card for gas, it will be harder to rack up the bill, making it easier to keep track of.
Rewards Credit Cards Versus Oil-Company Gas Cards
So, you know you want to be rewarded at the pump, but you still aren’t sure if you should go for a rewards card with gas perks or an oil-company card? We’ll help you do the math.
Many rewards cards will allow you to earn points or cash back on the amount you spend on fuel. You will earn the same percentage back on any gas station you use, so you don’t have to be a company loyalist. Even better, a rewards credit card comes with other perks, as well as more opportunities to earn points or cash back on other spending. You can choose a card based on your spending habits to reap the most rewards.
Co-branded oil-company cards typically offer cents off per gallon or cents per gallon rebates. Gas credit cards that are more than just loyalty rewards credit cards tied specifically to the gas station will allow cardholders to earn cents per gallon per dollar spent elsewhere. For example, the Techron Advantage Visa card allows cardholders to earn 20 cents per gallon at Chevron and Texaco for the 90 days after opening an account.
There are pros and cons to both cards and the right card depends on your unique spending situation and credit score.
Gas Card Pros:
- Better chance of approval: Individuals who are working to rebuild their credit or who have been rejected from popular rewards credit cards are more likely to be approved for a gas card.
- Card limit: If you are afraid of overspending, gas cards come with smaller credit limits, so there is a less likely chance you will get yourself into unbearable debt.
- Comes with limited protection: Most gas cards come with some level of fraud protection which makes it a better choice than using a debit card at the pump.
- Cents off each gallon: Gas cards give you the opportunity to save money on what you are already spending. You might only earn an additional $50 to $100 per year, but that is more than if you were to pay with your debit card.
Gas Card Cons:
- High APRs (interest rates): You don’t want to hold a balance on these cards because the interest rates are high and will cost you more than any cents per gallon saved or earned.
- Limited rewards
- Reward caps
Reward Credit Card Pros:
- Earn more back on a variety of spending
- Redeem rewards on what you want, not just gas
- Better APRs (interest rates)
Reward Card Cons:
- Stricter credit approval
- Many cards come with an annual fee
How To Choose a Credit Card for Gas Rewards
When choosing the right card for your gas rewards, don’t just look at how much you earn for spending. You want to compare these important factors too:
- Rewards cap: Is there a limit to how much you can earn on your annual gas spending? Some cards might offer 5% cash back on gas for one quarter’s spending (usually three months) and then drop it down to 1%.
- Annual fee: Annual fees are not an automatic deal-breaker, but you need to weigh the card’s perks against the fee.
- Redemption value: How can you spend your gas rewards? Cards with redemption flexibility will allow you to use your rewards to benefit your budget rather than being wasted on programs that use points for magazine subscriptions.
- Membership requirements: Some credit cards have warehouse membership fees and rules attached to it. For example, the Costco Citi card requires a $60 annual Costco membership, but you can earn 4% on gas purchases at other fuel stations.
How Much Money Can a Gas Credit Card Save You?
On average, Americans spend $2,109 per year on gas. Your number might be higher if you are a regular commuter or drive a large vehicle. With an average gas price of $2.50 per gallon, that comes out to almost 844 gallons per year. Using those stats, here’s how much you would save with a gas credit card versus a rewards credit card:
- A gas card that saves 5 cents per gallon: $42.20
- A rewards card that earns 2% back: $42.18
- A rewards card that earns 3% back: $63.27
- A rewards card that earns 5% back: $105.45
Choosing a rewards card that earns 2% or more cash back on gas will save you more on your gas purchases. While gas spending is pricey, there is probably another spending category (such as groceries or dining out) that you spend more on. Look for a card that will reward you both for gas purchases and your other frequent purchases.
What Are the Best Gas Credit Cards?
There’s no single credit card out there that’s best for everyone, so it’s important to consider your spending habits and preferences when deciding which card to pick. With all that in mind, here are our top choices to compare.
- Best for Cash Back: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
- Best for Costco Members: Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
- Best for Flexible Earning: Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card
- Best for Simple Redemption: Citi® Double Cash Card
Continue scrolling to read reviews of some of our favorite credit cards for gas. Visit our guide to the best gas credit cards to compare even more credit products.
1. Best for Cash Back: Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
If you spend a lot on gas and groceries, the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express can provide some lucrative rewards.
- Rewards Rate: The card offers the following rewards rates:
- 6% cash back on the first $6,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets annually (then 1%)
- 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, such as Netflix, Spotify, Audible, Amazon Music Unlimited and many more
- 3% cash back on gas at U.S. gas stations and on transit, including taxis and rideshares, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more
- 1% cash back on everything else
- Sign-Up Bonus:$250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases within the first three months. This welcome offer covers the cost of the card’s $95 annual fee for more than two years, giving you plenty of time to use the card and determine whether it’s the best fit for the long run.
- Why We Like It: We like the card because it packs a heavy rewards punch on several everyday spending categories. If you can max out the U.S. supermarket bonus alone — that’s $500 per month — you’ll earn $360 in cash back every year. Just keep in mind that superstores like Walmart and Target and wholesale clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club don’t fall under the supermarket category.
- Who Should Use This Card? Families who spend a lot on gas and groceries.
- Annual Fee: $95
2. Best for Costco Members: Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi
If you have a Costco membership, the Costco Anywhere Visa by Citi may be a no-brainer.
- Rewards Rate: The card offers the following rewards rates:
- 4% cash back on the first $7,000 spent each year on eligible gas worldwide
- 3% back on restaurant and travel purchases worldwide
- 2% back on all non-gas and travel purchases through Costco and Costco.com
- 1% back on all other purchases
- Sign-Up Bonus: None
- Why We Like It: We like the Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi because it has one of the best cash-back rewards rates you can get on gas purchases. It also makes it easy to rack up rewards on other common expenditures, including travel, restaurants and all other purchases made with Costco. If you’re already a Costco member or you’ve been meaning to join, the card should be on your radar.
- Who Should Use This Card? Costco members
- Annual Fee: $0. However, you do need a Costco membership to qualify, which costs $60 or $120 annually, depending on which level you choose. If you’re already paying that fee, the annual cost of the card is truly zero. But if you’re getting a membership just for the card, it’ll be harder to make it worth the cost.
3. Best for Flexible Earning: Bank of America® Cash Rewards Credit Card
If you like the idea of earning bonus rewards on gas purchases but want the chance to pick something else now and then, the Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card is the one for you. The card offers 3% cash back on a category of your choice from a list that includes gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement and furnishings.
- Rewards Rate:
- 3% cash back on gas (once you’ve selected the gas category)
- 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs
- 1% back on all other purchases
- Sign-Up Bonus: $200 cash bonus after you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days with the account. It also provides new cardholders with an introductory 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 billing cycles, which is about the same as months.
- Why We Like It: We like the Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card because it provides value in so many ways: two welcome offers, bonus rewards on everyday spending categories, and the opportunity to pick your own 3% category. Note that you can change it every month, which can come in handy if you know you’re going to have a large expense in one of the categories in the near future.
- Who Should Use This Card? People who want flexibility.
- Annual Fee: $0
Methodology: How We Chose the Top Gas Credit Cards
There are a lot of credit cards out there that offer bonus rewards on gas purchases or simply high rewards rates on every purchase you make. We picked our top five based on the overall value they can provide. We looked at the other bonus rewards rates the cards offer and focused on cards that provide extra cash back or points on purchases you’re likely going to make regularly.
In general, we focused on credit cards with no annual fee, so you don’t have to worry about figuring out how to make the card worth it every year. But in the case of the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express, we chose it because it makes it easy to recoup the annual fee every year.