Consumers have been worried about high gas prices lately, and it’s easy to see why. The national average price per gallon of unleaded fuel is $3.90 according to the AAA as of August 22, 2022. A year ago, the national average was $3.16, making this surge a real hit to the budget for many Americans, especially those with long commutes.
Credit card rewards can be a useful way to offset some of these costs. If you spend a lot on gas, you might be wondering which card is the best way to help you capitalize on those expenses? Let’s take a look at some of the benefits that Citi Custom Cash℠ Card offers and how this card can help consumers save some money after they hit a gas station.
How much can you earn with Citi Custom Cash?
The Citi Custom Cash Card is a flexible category card that provides cardholders with a 5 percent cashback on their spend category in every billing cycle up to $500. After that, and on all other purchases, cardholders earn 1 percent cashback. Categories that might be your top spending category include gas stations, restaurants, grocery stores, some travel, some transportation services, some streaming services, pharmacies, home improvement stores, health clubs, and entertainment programs.
How can consumers get the most out of this reward structure? If you were trying to maximize your Citi Custom Cash rewards, you would have to spend $500 on gas alone every month, which would give you $300 a year back. However, even when gas prices were at their highest in May 2022 — CNBC reported that U.S. households spend about $5,000 a year on gas — they didn’t reach the Citi Custom Cash spending ceiling.
However, now that gas prices are no longer breaking records, let’s look at a more realistic spending example, assuming you aim to make your highest spending category gas in every billing cycle.
If you spend $350 per billing cycle on gas, you will receive 5 percent cash on that amount, which is $17.50 cash per month. To maximize these rewards, it may make sense to use this card to purchase gasoline for all of your family members, such as your spouse or teen driver, to try and make the most of the 5 percent bonus tier.
Please note: One of the biggest benefits of the card is that the category of basic expenses can automatically change in each billing cycle, so it is important to consider each category of your personal expenses and plan accordingly. While it might be gasoline one month, another month it might be travel or lunch.
Other gas cards to consider
Not sure if a Citi Custom Cash card is right for you? Here are some more great ways to earn rewards when you buy gas.
- Sam’s Mastercard Club: This card offers a 5 percent cashback on gas (up to $6,000 a year, and can be done anywhere, not just at Sam’s Club gas stations) – after that, 1 percent cashback. It also gives 3% cashback on dinner and 1% cashback on other purchases. Your total rewards are capped at $5,000 in cashback each year.
- Citi Visa® Costco Anywhere CardA: You get a 4% cash back on eligible gas purchases (again, made anywhere, not just at Costco gas) up to $7,000 per year. After that, you will receive 1 percent cashback. Other bonus categories are restaurants and related travel purchases at 3 percent and Costco purchases at 2 percent.
- Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card: The card gives you 5x more points on gas (or EV charging stations) and 3x more points on shopping at supermarkets (including most Target and Walmart stores), restaurants, TV, radio, cable and streaming services. All other purchases earn 1X points. Note. Eligible gas purchases must be paid for at the gas station, so you cannot extend your rewards to snacks and gift cards purchased from the gas station shop.
How does it compare to other gas cards?
As mentioned earlier, gas prices rise with demand. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020, the national average spending on gasoline and motor oil was $1,568 per household. That comes out to about $130 a month, which is probably not the biggest category American households spend on, but still significant.
This comes into play on Citi Custom Cash. For those of you who want to use your card as a gas card every month, you should use the card primarily for gas and nothing more.
Let’s say you spend a few hundred dollars on gas most of the months—or even hit the $500 limit. Then Citi Custom Cash can make a lot of sense for buying gasoline, especially if you’re already maxing out other potential top tiers with other cards.
Similarly, the $6,000 annual limit for the 5 percent Sam’s Club Mastercard gas category equates to $500 per month. As for the Costco visa, it has an annual spending cap of $7,000 on a 4 percent gas fee. This averages out to about $583 per month. Depending on your shopping habits, you may prefer the fixed bonus tiers of these cards to the flexible Citi Custom Cash Card tier.
However, if you are considering Sam’s Club Mastercard or Costco Visa, you should also consider the total cost of ownership. All four cards mentioned above have no annual fee, but the Sam’s Club and Costco cards are only available to club members, and memberships start at $45 and $60 per year, respectively). If you already regularly shop at these warehouse clubs, this could make a lot of sense. But we would not recommend joining just for the sake of gas rewards.
For most people, gas is not a huge expense. In fact, many gas credit cards return 1.5 or 2 percent cash back on every purchase—you might even have one in your wallet. If you don’t spend a lot on gas, you’re probably better off using one of these.
However, if you drive frequently and spend hundreds of dollars on gas every month, whether it’s for work, running a small business, or visiting family frequently, then maximizing those costs with a Citi Custom Cash Card might be a good idea. Be sure to calculate your monthly budget so you don’t leave rewards on the table using gas cards over other potential bonus categories.
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