If you’re a road warrior or your lifestyle calls for driving, you’re probably wondering how the hell you can keep your wheels on the road with the exorbitant gas prices we’re seeing.
You might be thinking of a credit card with a gas station logo to help offset those inflated prices – returning a few cents per gallon sounds like a pretty nice deal, especially now. But I would argue that a cashback or reward card that includes gas as one of its expense categories could be an even better option to help you minimize the damage to your wallet until this oil crisis is resolved.
What is a gas credit card?
When I say gas credit cards, I don’t necessarily mean credit cards with the oil corporation logo on the front. Many of these card products exist, some offering discounts as low as 6 cents a gallon (such as the ExxonMobil smart card and Sunoco Rewards credit card).
Read more: Best Gasoline Credit Cards
Saving 6 cents on the dollar sounds like a lot, but keep in mind that the higher gas prices rise, the smaller the cost recovery, which will be 6 cents. Not only that, but gas brand credit cards often have higher interest rates, around 26% or so. If you don’t pay your credit card gas bill every month, you could be losing more money than you save.
All this means that traditional cashback or bonus cards can be much more profitable when gas prices are high (as they are now).
According to CNBC, the average US gallon of regular gasoline now costs $4.33. Did you know that cashback credit cards offer up to 5% cash back at gas stations? (Note: we’re talking percentages here, not just cents back.)
By swiping one of these cards, you can get a discount of up to 21 cents per gallon. That’s more than three times the savings of some joint gas station credit cards.
Which gas credit card to choose?
If you need more affordable gas, there are plenty of powerful credit cards to choose from. Filling up my compact Mazda 3 costs me almost $60. With the right credit cards at gas stations, I can easily save $150 a year—and again, I drive economically.
Let’s take a look at some valuable credit cards that offer generous gas station refunds.
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card
The Citi Custom Cash℠ Card with no annual fee offers a simple rewards structure. It gives you 5% cash back on purchases up to $500 depending on the category you spend the most in each billing cycle. Eligible categories include:
- Gas stations.
- Grocery stores.
- Select streaming services.
- Home goods stores.
- And more.
If your biggest monthly expense is buying gasoline, your Citi Custom Cash℠ The card will automatically refund you 5% cashback for these purchases. Just note that you can only get 5% back on purchases up to $500 in any category that activates the bonus (then you earn 1%). You will also receive 1% on all other non-bonus purchases.
In short, Citi Custom Cash℠ The card gives you the opportunity to earn up to $300 in bonus cash at gas stations each year if gasoline is your main expense category. The card also comes with a $200 signup bonus after you spend $750 on purchases within the first three months of opening an account.
Read more: Citi Custom Cash card overview
US Bank Altitude Connect
Alternatively, US bank Altitude Connect offers 4 Altitude points per dollar at gas stations and on road purchases. You can redeem these points for cashback, gift cards, travel, etc. at a rate of one cent each, meaning this card effectively delivers a 4% cashback at gas stations.
While this is a lower rate than Citi Custom Cash, this card might be better for road warriors as its earning rate is unlimited. Depending on how often you drive, you could potentially earn thousands of dollars in cash per year.
There is a $95 annual fee for this card, which is waived in the first year. But it also comes with benefits like mobile phone protection and up to $30 a year in streaming credits.
US Bank Altitude Connect is offering a bonus of 50,000 points (worth $500) after you spend $2,000 on purchases within the first 120 days of opening an account.
Bank of America Personal Cash Rewards Credit Card
The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card with no annual fee offers the opportunity to earn a whopping 5.25% at gas stations, but there’s a big caveat.
You see, the card allows you to earn 3% back in one of the following categories:
- Gas stations.
- Dining room.
- Online shopping.
- Home goods or furniture stores.
But, this 3% bonus is capped at $2,500 per quarter. Once you reach this, you will only earn 1%.
Here’s the trick: if you’re a Bank of America Preferred Rewards member, you can earn bonus interest on your earning rate based on the value of your Bank of America account and/or Merrill investment accounts. Here is what you will get:
- 25% bonus for those with an average total balance between $20,000 and $49,999.
- 50% bonus for those with an average total balance between $50,000 and $99,999.
- 75% bonus for those with an average total balance of more than $100,000.
In other words, if you have $100,000 or more in your Bank of America and Merrill investment accounts, you’ll get 5.25% at gas stations. This return is almost impossible to beat, but it’s not easy to unlock either.
The Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card offers a $200 online bonus after you spend $1,000 on purchases within 90 days of opening an account.
Read more: 9 Benefits and Perks of a Bank of America Credit Card
The pursuit of unlimited freedom
Perhaps the most popular card for saving money at the gas station is Chase Freedom Unlimited with no annual fee. It currently offers a signup bonus that consists of two parts:
- $200 after you spend $500 on purchases within the first three months of opening an account.
- 5% refund on gas station purchases up to $6,000 spent in the first year.
In total, this bonus is $500, of which $300 is earned at gas stations.
Please note that after the first year of using the card, this card will become unremarkable for spending at gas stations, as you will only get 1.5% back.
Read more: Chase Freedom Unlimited review
Finally, the Citi Premier Card is a fantastic credit card to reward trips for gas station purchases, but only if you agree to earn points rather than refunds.
The card earns 3 Citi ThankYou points per dollar for the following:
- Gas stations.
- Air travel.
You can redeem your Citi ThankYou points for cash at a rate of one cent each, which gives you a 3% cashback on refueling. However, Citi ThankYou Points can be significantly more valuable when transferred to partner airlines and hotels such as Wyndham, Singapore Airlines, Avianca and more.
If you want your gas expenses to bring you cheap flights and hotel stays, this card is for you. If you’re looking for more general cash savings, it’s best to stick with cashback.
Please note that the Citi Premier Card has an annual fee of $95. But it also offers a signup bonus of 60,000 Reward Points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening an account. You can also offset the annual card fee with Annual Hotel Credit: $100 per hotel stay of $500 or more (excluding taxes and fees) when you book on thankyou.com.
Read more: Citi Premier card overview
The best gas cards are almost always cash back credit cards that are not affiliated with an oil company. It’s easy to get 4% to 5% back on your gas station costs without even paying an annual fee.
Even if you have a fuel-efficient car or work remotely, you probably feel the pain of exorbitant gas prices. If you don’t use one of the credit cards listed above to fill up your car, you’re burning your money along with all that gas.
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