8 Gas Cards That Can Refuel Your Wallet

NEW YORK (LowCards.com) — The price of gas throughout the nation still averages around $3.50 per gallon. While consumers have adjusted to the lasting reality of high gas prices, it is still a good idea to find ways to save money while filling up your car.

Gasoline credit cards are one way to keep a little more money in your pocket. Anyone who drives a car can benefit from one of these cards, since they provide money back on gas purchase. This is a good time to shop around before the heavy summer driving season begins. Before you sign up for a gas card, research and compare several cards; gas cards are more complicated, and potentially more expensive, than standard credit cards.

Gasoline cards can be credit cards issued by either gasoline companies or credit card companies. In most cases, you will get anywhere from two to five rewards points for every $1 spent at gas stations, then one point for every $1 spent anywhere else. You may also earn points for spending money on rental cars or car repairs, but in most cases the heavy rewards are for fuel. These cards use cash back, gift card or fuel credit incentive programs based on the amount of purchases you make.

Like all reward cards, the benefits are a good deal only if you pay off your balance each month. Station-branded gas cards have some of the highest interest rates found on any credit card, usually ranging from 21% to 25.99%. If you carry a balance, these cash rewards are not worth the high APRs.

Gasoline company credit cards

Credit cards issued by specific gas companies such as BP/Amoco, Shell and Texaco offer discounts for gas bought from their stations. These cards typically have a much higher APR than bank-issued cards, though. Pay attention to the details of the offer, because some companies give attractive incentives for the first few months, then change to a much lower rebate. Offers vary by card, so read the fine print to see if the incentive is cash back or fuel credits. Some companies will credit your account monthly, but some redeem only annually.

Also see: Beware 0% APR Credit Cards

These cards used to offer attractive savings to loyal customers who bought gas from one particular brand. The rebate offers are not nearly as lucrative as they used to be, though. A number of issuers have raised interest rates, added minimum purchase requirements and lowered the rebates.

The BP Visa Rewards Card
The BP Visa Rewards Card is issued through Chase and for the first 60 days gets a bonus equating to 25 cents in rebates for each $100 of net purchases. After the first 60 days, your rebate will equate to 15 cents in rebates for each $100 of net purchases made at participating BP locations and 5 cents for each $100 for all other eligible net purchases. The rate for the BP Visa is 19.24%

The Shell Platinum MasterCard
You must make qualifying purchases of at least $500 in a billing cycle to be eligible for gasoline and/or diesel savings.  A credit of 10¢ per gallon or more will appear on your next billing cycle for the first 100 gallons of Shell gasoline bought. The credit tiers are 10 cents per gallon for $500 to $999.99; 15 cents per gallon for $1,000 to $2,499; and 20 cents per gallon for more than $2,499. Credits will be posted automatically to your monthly billing statement as a single statement credit. The credit will apply only to the first 100 gallons of Shell fuel bought with your Shell Platinum Select MasterCard in that billing cycle. The APR is 23.99%.

The Exxon/Mobil Smartcard
Save 6 cents on up to 100 gallons in each billing cycle that you buy at least 45 gallons of Exxon or Mobil-branded fuel. Gallons bought will be considered for a credit in the billing cycle they are posted to your account. Total annual credit cannot exceed $72. A statement credit will be applied monthly with qualifying purchases. The APR is 24.99%.

The Chevron/Texaco Visa
Make $1,000 in monthly qualifying purchases and earn 20 cents per gallon in fuel credits. Make $300 in monthly qualifying purchases and earn 10 cents per gallon in fuel credits. A maximum of $300 in total fuel credits may be earned and redeemed in any calendar year. The APR for the Chevron and Texaco credit cards is 26.99%.

Also see: How Paying Just the Minimum on Your Credit Card is a Trap

Gasoline rewards from credit card companies

Gasoline rewards from cards issued by credit card companies usually offer a wider range of benefits. These cards don't require purchases at a specific gas station and give cash back on purchases other than gasoline. But these cards typically have some confusing terms and conditions that should be understood before applying for the card.

Some cards offer rotating programs that give higher gas rewards for a specific time during the year. The rewards rotate by quarter and enrollment is not automatic. Many of these programs require you to sign up each quarter to get the rewards, making rotating rewards programs harder to navigate. A number of programs have a maximum benefit amount you can earn per billing cycle. They may also have purchasing tiers, and full benefits may not begin until you reach the designated spending limit; rewards are smaller until you reach the tier. Most cards advertise that rewards don't expire, but rewards can be forfeited for late payments, inactive accounts or closed accounts. Some redemptions aren't available until they reach a specified reward amount.

Chase Freedom Visa Card
This card advertises a 5% cash back reward for certain categories of purchases each quarter. But you are limited to earning the 5% cash back on $1,500 in purchases each quarter, so there is a quarterly maximum cash back reward of $75 in these special categories. In 2013, consumers earned 5% on gas purchases during the first quarter. The card also gives 1% cash back on all other purchases with no limit on the amount earned. This card currently has an extra incentive — new customers get an additional $100 cash back bonus once they spend $500 during the first three months. There is no annual fee on this card.

Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express
Earn 100 reward dollars after you make $1,000 in purchases in the first three months of having an account. Earn 2% at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, 3% at supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases) and 1% on other purchases. Cash back is received in the form of reward dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit. APR is 12.99% to 21.99%.

Citi Thank You Preferred
Earn 15,000 bonus points after $1000 in card purchases within three months of account opening. Earn one point for every $1 you spend on all purchases, including purchases made at stand-alone gas stations. You will also earn a 1% anniversary bonus calculated as a percentage of points earned from purchases during your first membership year. The APR is from 12.99% to 22.99%.

True Earnings Card from Costco and American Express
True Earnings offers cash back awards of 3% for purchases of gasoline up to $4,000, and 1% on subsequent purchases. Cardholders also earn 2% cash back on restaurant purchases and on travel-related purchases and 1% on all other transactions. The card allows redemptions only on an annual basis as an in-store coupon redeemable for merchandise or cash at Costco only. There is no limit on the amount one can earn and no annual card fee for Costco members.

— By Bill Hardekopf

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