The Best Gas Credit Cards
With the typical American household buying 1,200 gallons of gas per year, if we assume the cost of gas is $2.50 per gallon–a reasonable estimate of the current national average–that means that the average American household spends about $3,000 per year on gas alone. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could get a discount on $3,000 of non-discretionary spending? In theory, it makes the idea of gas credit cards sound great.
Unfortunately, the reality is that most gas station branded credit cards have no signup bonuses, poor rewards and more restrictions, on top of having higher interest rates compared to more general purpose cash back cards. However, in this in-depth survey, we do find some good alternatives for those looking to save the most on their fuel expenses.
Gas Station Branded Credit Cards
Let’s first take a look at the gas station-branded credit card options.
As you can see from the chart below, most of the gas station-branded cards have quite a few restrictions. Not only are there frequently minimum amounts of gas you must purchase in a month in order to earn rebates, but most also cap the amount that you can earn. In addition, roughly half of them are store cards, which means that they can only be used at that particular gas station and nowhere else.
When you do earn rewards on them, the rate ranges from 4 cents per gallon, all the way up to 25 cents per gallon. Or even double that, in the case of Marathon’s card during its introductory 90 day period. If we assume that gas costs $2.50 per gallon, that means the rebates vary anywhere from 1.6% to a whopping 20%, in the case of the 50 cents per gallon reward.
Note: For the gas station-branded cards listed below that are not store cards, purchases made elsewhere do not earn any rewards. For instance, if you use your Marathon credit card at a department store, it will not earn any rewards. The one exception on this list is the Speedy Rewards MasterCard, which earns 10 points per dollar on non-Speedway purchases.
|Card||Gas Rebate||Useable elsewhere?||Rebate Cap||Credit Method|
|BP Visa Credit Card||25 cents per gallon for every $100 spent at BP||Yes||N/A||Redeem rewards for gas|
|Chevron and Texaco Visa Credit Card||30 cents per gallon for the first 60 days; otherwise, 10 cents per gallon with $300 in eligible spending per billing period, or 20 cents per gallon with at least $1,000 in eligible spending per billing period||Yes||$300 per calendar year.||Earnings provided as fuel statement credit|
|CITGO Rewards Card||5 cents rebate per gallon at CITGO||No||None||Monthly statement credit|
|Phillips 66 Personal Card||10 cents per gallon for the first 90 days; 5 cents per gallon after 90 days.
Minimum purchase of 45 gallons per month required. Earnings apply up to 110 gallons per month.
|No||Annual credit not to exceed $99.||Earnings provided as fuel statement credit|
|ExxonMobil Smart Card||6 cents per gallon
Minimum purchase of 45 gallons per month required. Earnings apply up to 100 gallons per month.
|Yes||Annual credit not to exceed $72.||Credit automatically posted to monthly billing statement|
|Marathon Visa Card||
*Also through 9/30/15, new cardholders earn double these rebates for their first 90 days
|Yes||Unlimited rebates||Every time you get $25 in rebates, you’ll be sent a $25 Marathon Cash Card|
|Shell Drive For Five||5 cents per gallon||No||No cap||Credit automatically posted to monthly billing statement|
|Shell Platinum MasterCard||
||Yes||Credit only applies to the first 100 gallons of Shell fuel in a billing cycle||Credit posted to monthly billing statement|
|Sunoco Rewards Card||5 cents per gallon||No||None||Get an immediate discount–price you pay at point of sale will be reduced|
|Speedy Rewards MasterCard||50 points per dollar (see speedyrewards.com for point redemption options)||Yes||N/A||See speedyrewards.com for Speedy Rewards program terms and conditions|
|Valero Credit Card||
||No||Rebate applies to a max of 110 gallons per billing cycle||Automatic credit posted to monthly billing statement|
Some of those rewards, particularly those from Chevron/Texaco and Marathon are quite generous if you hit the higher tiers of spending. But it’s also important to note that these rewards are inflated by the current environment of low gas prices. If we look at the next chart, we see how the gas price affects the rebate %:
|Gas price of $2.00/gallon||Gas price of $2.50/gallon||Gas price of $3.00/gallon||Gas price of $3.50/gallon|
|Rebate of 5 cents/gallon||2.5%||2%||1.67%||1.43%|
|Rebate of 10 cents/gallon||5%||4%||3.33%||2.86%|
|Rebate of 15 cents/gallon||7.5%||6%||5%||4.29%|
|Rebate of 20 cents/gallon||10%||8%||6.67%||5.71%|
|Rebate of 25 cents/gallon||12.5%||10%||8.33%||7.14%|
|Rebate of 50 cents/gallon||25%||20%||16.67%||14.28%|
As the chart shows, in a traditional, higher gas price environment, the rebates offered by these cards wouldn’t look quite so great.
Overall, though, gas station branded cards are a pretty bad deal. In a few instances, namely the Chevron/Texaco and Marathon cards, they can be a reasonable option, as long as you only use them for gas and can still hit the higher tiers of spending.
The other cards can still serve a useful purpose, however. Gas cards, and particularly the store cards, tend to be easier to qualify and get approved for. So, if you have bad or no credit, they can be used to build your credit. As always, though, with these cards you should be especially careful to use good credit card practices–namely, make sure you pay your bill in full each month, as they also tend to have higher interest rates.
General purpose cash back cards
If you have good credit, though, there are better deals to be had. The more general purpose cash back cards in the chart below tend to be much better options, as they offer a good rebate, while not requiring you to buy a specific brand of gas. With the exception of the PenFed Cash Rewards Visa, they also allow you to earn a rebate on other types of spending.
Note: Since there are cards such as the Citi Double Cash which already earn 2% on all types of spending, the following chart only includes cards that earn more than 2% cash back on gas.
Note 2: The quarterly rotating bonus cards, such as the Chase Freedom and Discover it Card, aren’t included either, even though they do typically offer 5% back during one quarter a year. After all, cars require gas year-round, not just three months out of the year.
|Card||Gas Rebate||Other Rebate||Rebate Cap||Credit Method|
|BankAmericard Cash Rewards||3% (or 5.25% if you have Platinum Preferred Rewards status)||2% at grocery stores, 1% on other purchases||Grocery store/gas bonus rewards limited to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter||Redeem rewards online/set up automatic redemption into account of your choice|
|Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express||3% ($75 annual fee)||6% Cash Back at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 3% Cash Back at select US department stores, 1% Cash Back on other purchases||None||Redeem for statement credit, merchandise or gift cards once your Reward balance is at least $25|
|Fort Knox VISA Platinum Card||5%||1% on other purchases||None||Automatic monthly credit|
|PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards Visa Card||5%* (requires Plus card)||0% on other purchases||None||Automatic monthly credit|
|PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card||5 points per dollar (see this post for points conversion)||3 points on supermarket purchases, 1 point on all other purchases||None||Must manually redeem points|
|Sallie Mae MasterCard||5% cash back on the first $250 per month on gas and groceries||5% cash back on the first $250 per month on gas and groceries, 5% cash back on the first $750 per month on eligible book purchases, 1% cash back on all other purchases||Limited to $250 in gas/groceries purchases per month||Can redeem once you have at least $25 in rewards|
|SimplyCash® Business Credit Card||3%*||5% Cash back at U.S. office supply stores and on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers; 3% cash back on the category of your choice from a list of select categories (which can be gas); 1% cash back on other purchases||5% and 3% apply to purchases up to $25,000 per rebate year||Automatically credited to statement|
|True Earnings® Card from Costco and American Express||3% cash back at US gas stations and on gasoline at Costco, up to $4,000 per year in purchases (then 1%)||2% cash back at US restaurants, 2% cash back on eligible travel purchases, including at Costco, and 1% cash back on other purchases, including at Costco.||Cash back received annually in the form of a reward coupon to be used at Costco|
() = Recommended card
Recommended Gas Cards
Of these options, the BankAmericard Cash Rewards from BofA offers the highest cash back on gas of 5.25% on up to $1,500 in grocery/gas spending per quarter, provided you have Platinum Preferred Rewards status. (See this post for details on the Bank of America Preferred Rewards program. For those with significant assets at Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, the program can provide some excellent benefits and is worth exploring.)
Most people won’t have such deep ties with BofA, however, and will be better served with either the Fort Knox Visa or the Sallie Mae MasterCard. It’s no coincidence that these cards also made our best cash back credit cards list.
- The Fort Knox Visa does require Fort Knox FCU membership, but that can be easily satisfied by joining the American Consumer Council for free. Membership requires a $15 upfront payment, consisting of a $10 one-time membership fee and $5 which represents a share in the credit union. Also, don’t expect a large credit line with the card, as the max credit limit first time applicants receive is $2,500.
- The Sallie Mae MasterCard, despite its name, is available to anyone and doesn’t require you to have a loan with Sallie Mae. The other nice, noteable thing about the Sallie Mae card is that Amazon purchases count under the 5% book category, provided the purchase is made directly from Amazon and not a third-party.
For those with good credit, any of these 3 cards would be excellent choices for those wanting to maximize their cash back on gas.