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What you need to know about gas credit cards
Driving is expected to make a comeback in 2021, but unfortunately so are gas prices. Earning rewards at the pump with a gas credit card could provide a way to help offset these costs.
To help you get maximum value, Bankrate’s personal finance experts have chosen the top gas credit cards available from our partners. Our analysis also includes advice on the best way to choose (and use) the gas card that’s right for you.
Comparing Bankrate’s top gas credit cards
A closer look at our list of best gas credit cards
Citi Rewards+® Card
Why it’s best for everyday spending
The feature that rounds up points to the next 10 on purchases makes the 2X ThankYou® Points you’ll earn on gas station and supermarket spending (up to $6,000 a year, then 1X points) plus the 1X points on everything else even more valuable. The sign-up bonus is pretty small compared to other gas cards, but you’ll benefit greatly from the card’s lack of an annual fee and the 10% points back on the first 100,000 points you redeem each year.
Read our Citi Rewards+® Card review.
Sam’s Club® Mastercard®
Why it’s the best wholesale club card
With the Sam’s Club Mastercard, gas purchases earn 5 percent cash back on up to $6,000 a year, followed by 1 percent. If you spent $6,000 on gas in one year, your earnings would translate to $300 in that category alone. However, the gas rewards are just one of the features. Sam’s Club Plus members earn up to 5 percent cash back on Sam’s Club purchases made in-club or digitally. Dining earns 3 percent cash back and all other purchases earn 1 percent.
Read our Sam’s Club® Mastercard® review.
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Why it’s best for gas and groceries
One of the top cash back options, this card earns 6 percent cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases (up to $6,000 per year, then 1 percent), 3 percent cash back on transit and U.S. gas station purchases and 1 percent on all other purchases. In addition to high cash back rates in useful categories, new cardholders can also take advantage of the generous welcome offer: Earn a $300 statement credit after spending $3,000 with your card in the first 6 months. The card does charge a $95 annual fee, but it’s waived in the first year.
Read our Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express review.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
Why it’s best for no annual fee
With 3 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1 percent), 2 percent at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores and 1 percent cash back on all other purchases, the Blue Cash Everyday Card gives you several ways to earn rewards while avoiding an annual fee. The fact that the 2 percent U.S. gas stations and select U.S. supermarkets category has no earnings limit makes this card particularly useful for people who regularly spend a lot on fuel.
Read our Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express review.
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card
Why it’s best for sign-up bonus
A straightforward and easy-to-earn welcome bonus is a top feature: earn $200 in online cash rewards after spending $1,000 within the first 90 days of opening an account. Cardholders can also earn 3 percent cash back in the category of their choice, including gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug store or home improvement purchases, plus 2 percent earnings at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 of combined 3 and 2 percent category purchases each quarter, then 1 percent), and 1 percent on all other purchases. If gas purchases consistently top your list of everyday expenses, you’ll want to make gas your choice category and keep it there.
Read our Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card review.
Discover it® chrome
Why it’s best for first-year cash back match
Bustling commuters who don’t have as much time to cook regularly, like students, will find this card’s 2 percent cash back at gas stations and restaurants (up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, then 1 percent) and unlimited 1 percent on all other eligible purchases a solid option. An attractive bonus: Discover will match your first-year cash back earnings through its Cashback Match™. Maximizing the gas station and restaurant categories alone will earn new cardholders $160 counting the Cashback Match at the end of their first year.
Read our Discover it® chrome review.
PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card
Why it’s the best credit union rewards card
You’ll have to be a member of PenFed’s credit union to apply, but the rewards potential could make membership worth considering. The no-annual-fee PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card earns 5x points on gas purchases paid at the pump, 3x points on supermarket purchases and 1x point per dollar on all other purchases. The best part is that rewards are unlimited. In the gas-at-the-pump category alone, spending $200 a month would earn 1,000
monthly reward points. Just be aware that travel, merchandise and gift cards are the only ways to redeem your rewards.
Review for the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card coming soon.
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
Why it’s best for earning hotel rewards
One of Hilton’s top options, this card features generous rewards rates at Hilton properties as well as U.S. gas stations. . You’ll earn 12X points per dollar on purchases at Hilton hotels and resorts, plus 6X points at U.S. supermarkets, U.S. restaurants and U.S. gas stations, as well as 3X points on all other eligible purchases. It charges an annual fee of $95, but frequent Hilton guests who spend a lot at U.S. gas stations should earn enough rewards to compensate..
Read our Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card review.
What is a gas credit card?
With a gas credit card, you’ll earn points, cash back or miles when you spend at the pump. Most tend to be no annual fee cards that accept fair to good credit, but not all.
Gas credit cards come in a variety of forms. Some are high-earning rewards cards while others can help people with bad credit save at the pump. Further understanding the types of cards makes your decision on whether or not to carry a gas credit card easier.
Types of gas credit cards
Typically, gas cards come in one of three forms, loyalty gas cards, co-branded cards and general-purpose gas credit cards. They each have their benefits, so seeing how each could apply to your personal circumstances is the best way to maximize savings when paying at the pump.
General-purpose gas credit cards
These traditional options are simply credit cards that offer bonus categories for earning rewards at gas stations. For example, the Citi Rewards+ Card offers 2X points at supermarkets and gas stations (up to $6,000 per year, then 1X). Gas credit cards, just like all other credit cards, can be either flat-rate or have rotating bonus categories.
Loyalty gas cards
Loyalty gas cards, or cards distributed by specific gas stations to promote loyalty (such as BP, Speedway or Chevron), allow cardholders to earn credits for gas and receive discounts on fuel.
We recommend general-purpose gas rewards credit cards over loyalty cards — you’ll be able to earn rewards at any gas station, rather than one specific branded station. Also, your savings might be limited due to the ebb and flow of gas prices at your particular loyalty station.
Additionally, some loyalty programs, such as BPme, allow you to connect your debit or credit card to their app to earn points. This essentially allows you to utilize a general purpose rewards card as a loyalty card as well. You can learn more in our guide to gas rewards programs about how these loyalty offers stack up.
Co-branded gas cards
Co-branded gas cards are issued by a particular gas retailer and function like a normal credit card since they’re also branded with a card network, such as the BP Visa® Credit Card. Typically, you can use the card at more than just the issuer’s retail locations. For example, the BP Visa Credit Card earns rewards on purchases at BP stations, eligible grocery stores and everywhere else Visa cards are accepted. Take care, however, as co-branded cards usually have some of the highest APRs.
When applying for a gas credit card or any retail card, it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. Be sure of whether you’re applying to a co-branded card or a private-label card — many gas retailers offer both. Like co-branded cards, private-label gas cards generally offer rewards limited to a select gas station, high interest rates and no/low annual fee. The main differences are that private-label cards aren’t branded with a network, so they can’t be used on purchases outside the respective gas retailer, and often offer lower rebate rates.
Since differentiating between these cards can be difficult, we’ve matched popular loyalty gas retailers to their consumer rewards cards so that it’s easier to explore your options:
||BP Credit Card
||BP Visa® Credit Card
BP Visa Signature® Credit Card
||Exxon Mobil Rewards+™
||ExxonMobil™ Smart Card
||Speedy Rewards® Mastercard®
||Sunoco APlus Rewards
||Sunoco Rewards Credit Card
||Shell Fuel Rewards®
||Shell Fuel Rewards® Card
||Shell Fuel Rewards® Mastercard®
How you can benefit from a gas credit card
If you drive a vehicle that runs on gasoline, you’ll benefit from a gas credit card — it’s as simple as that.
Gas credit cards are ideal cards for individuals who commute long distances, frequently run errands, love to take road trips or have a busy family. With gas rewards cards, you can earn better-than-average rewards on fuel purchases and can better protect against skimmers, or machines that steal and store your card information, than debit cards.
College is often when young adults begin building their credit history, and a gas card is a perfect place to start.
Whether you commute to and from campus or spend time driving to a part-time job or internship, a gas credit card can help you earn rewards on your fuel purchases while building up your credit — just make sure you’re using your card responsibly and paying it off each month.
We recommend the Discover it® Student chrome, which will earn you 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter), plus 1% cash back on everything else.
If you have any road trips planned this spring or summer, you’ll benefit from a gas card.
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express will earn you 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year, then 1%) and select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% back on U.S. gas stations and transit (covering tolls you may encounter on your trip) and 1% back on everything else.
How to choose a gas credit card
There are a variety of options when it comes to choosing a gas credit card. First and foremost, we recommend that you stick with the general-purpose gas rewards card that will earn you rewards at any gas station, no matter the brand.
Additionally, look for cards that offer no annual fee and perks for non-gas purchases. We’ve pulled together an example of two credit cards that we think would be good choices:
||Discover it® chrome
||Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
||2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter)
1% unlimited cash back on everything else
|Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase
||$1,000 * 4 quarters * 2% cash back * $0.01 = $80
$200 * 12 months * 1% cash back * $0.01 = $24
|$1,000 * 4 quarters * 1.5% cash back * $0.01 = $60
$200 * 12 months * 1.5% cash back * $0.01 =$36
||Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
||$200 when you spend $500 in your first three months
||$208 (including year-end match bonus)
|| $296 (including sign-up bonus)
Let’s take a closer look at the cash back you’d earn from the Discover it chrome and Quicksilver cards:
Discover it® chrome
Say you spent $1,000 each quarter at gas stations and restaurants combined (therefore maxing out the 2% category). Then, say you spent an additional $200 a month on purchases outside the 2% category. By the end of your first year, you’d earn $104 in cash back.
When you include the rewards you’d earn from Discover’s Cashback Match feature, you’d earn $208 in cash back by the end of your first year of card ownership.
Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
If you spent $1,000 per quarter on gas with the Quicksilver card and $200 per month on all other purchases, you’d end up with $96 in cash back.
When you add in the first-year sign-up bonus you’d earn by spending at least $500 in your first three months, you’d earn a total of $296 in cash back by the end of your first year.
The bottom line
Although you’d earn more cash back your first year with the Quicksilver card, by year two the Discover it chrome will offer you more value.
Frequently asked questions about gas credit cards
What are fleet gas cards?
Fleet gas cards are business credit cards specifically designed to provide company vehicle gas and maintenance rebates. They primarily earn fuel discounts like private-label gas cards, but have detailed purchase monitoring benefits for better point-of-sale security (driver identification, where and when the purchase took place, exact cost, etc.) so business owners can prevent unauthorized purchases. Unlike corporate cards that can earn rewards on a variety of expenses with most merchants, most fleet cards can only be used to make vehicle-related purchases with set retailers.
Examples of fleet cards include:
- BP Business Solutions Mastercard®
- Sunoco SunTrak® card
- Speedway Business Fleet Card
- Shell Fleet Plus®
What are some different ways to save on gas?
There are a few everyday ways to save money on gas purchases outside loyalty programs and gas credit cards, although those may be your most lucrative options.
Discount and map apps like GasBuddy
Using map apps on your phone can help you save by searching for nearby gas stations for the lowest prices. Apps like Waze can even list your closest options by preferred price, brand and gas type. In addition to tracking prices, the GasBuddy app’s Pay with GasBuddy™ feature lets you link a checking account to earn post-purchase discounts and rewards.
Other reward credit card bonus categories
Outside your cash back card’s gas category, can other categories earn rewards on gas purchases? Unfortunately, cards like the American Express Blue Cash Preferred that earn high rates at U.S. supermarkets likely won’t earn you rewards at grocery store-owned gas stations due to merchant category code (MCC) differences. Even most grocery store-branded credit cards — like the Harris Teeter REWARDS World Mastercard® — don’t usually offer gas rewards.
Luckily, several wholesale club credit cards offer gas rewards at their stations, like the Sam’s Club® Mastercard®’s 5 percent cash back on gas. We wouldn’t encourage getting a retail card for gas because of their high APRs and limited uses, but more versatile cards with an online shopping category could earn you gas rewards by buying gift cards. You may be able to purchase a gas station gift card online or in-store with your credit card, depending on the retailer.
Use public transportation
If public transit is an option available to you, a household can save nearly $10,000 by taking public transportation and having one fewer car, according to the American Public Transportation Association. Plus, some cardholders can earn rewards on transit. Blue Cash Preferred holders earn unlimited 3% cash back on transit, including trains, parking, buses, tolls, rideshares and taxis.
Make sure your car is properly maintained
Simply keeping your engine tuned and your tires inflated and using the recommended grade of motor oil could improve your fuel economy by up to 6.6 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
What credit score is needed for a gas card?
It depends on what kind of gas credit card you have in mind. If you’re considering a rewards credit card that earns points for fuel purchases like the Blue Cash Preferred, you’ll most likely need “good” to “excellent” credit (about a 670+ FICO Score). However, gas station credit cards are much more accessible if you have a lower credit score.
Retail gas station cards are usually open to applicants with less than perfect credit. Private label and co-branded gas cards generally require “fair” credit or better (a 601+ FICO score), but some retailers may accept lower scores.
If your credit doesn’t qualify you for a top-end card, some secured cards and student cards may be better choices for gas purchases.
Do gas credit cards help build credit?
Although secured and student credit card benefits are better known for establishing credit, retail cards are also accessible launch pads for building credit if you’re a brand loyalist. You might want to aim for a co-branded gas card, however, since you can use it for more than filling up your tank. Just make sure that you pay your balance on time to avoid the notoriously high retail card APR.
How we selected our list of top gas cards
Credit cards featured on Bankrate.com receive a score based on a 5-point scoring system. With individual categories such as gas credit cards, the analysis focuses on specific features relevant to that type of card, including:
The highest-rated credit cards for gas purchases typically earn cash back or rewards points at a rate of 2 percent, 3 percent or even 4 percent for every dollar you spend on fuel purchases.
The best gas cards offer rewards not just for filling up your vehicle but also for other types of everyday purchases, such as groceries.
A truly outstanding gas credit card puts value front and center, meaning that it charges no annual fee (or a minimal fee).
Senior Editor Barry Bridges has been writing about credit cards, loans, mortgages and other personal finance products for Bankrate since 2018. His work has also appeared on websites including Nasdaq.com, Zillow.com and The Simple Dollar. He was previously an award-winning newspaper journalist in his native North Carolina. Send your questions about credit cards (and fantasy baseball) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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