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Editor's Note: This article is an interview with Curtis Arnold, founder of CardRatings.com and author of How You Can Profit from Credit Cards.
Summer travel expenses are hitting many consumers hard and gasoline pump-pain is not helping. Curtis Arnold, founder of CardRatings.com and author of How You Can Profit from Credit Cards, zeroes in on gas and travel reward credit cards and offers a number of gas, hotel, and travel rebate tips.
Mike: BP Gasoline and JP Morgan Chase have joined forces to create a gasoline rebate program. What are your thoughts on this joint venture?
Curtis: It's definitely one of the best gas rebate credit cards out there as it offers a 5% rebate on eligible purchases at all BP locations. A unique benefit of this card is that it also offers a 2% rebate on all eligible travel and dining. One negative caveat worth noting is that there are rebate exclusions if you buy gas from a competitor of BP....read the fine print carefully!
Mike: Safeway has a gas reduction program as well. Can you elaborate?
Curtis: By utilizing Safeway plastic at a Safeway pump, you get an immediate savings of $.03 per gallon. Additionally, at most Safeway stores, you will also get an additional 5% rebate once you make $200 in grocery purchases. It's a pretty good way of rewarding yourself for something you must do anyway.
Mike: Is it possible that a gas rebate card can back fire with a high interest rate? How can such an issue be avoided?
Curtis: Definitely...gas rebate cards historically have some of the highest rates on the market. I would stop using the card the very first month that you carry a balance. Even if you earn 5% back on gas (which is the most aggressive ongoing rebate on the market), you still lose BIG if you carry a balance and pay an 18% interest rate!
Mike: Are there other summertime expenses that can be cut with reward credit cards?
Curtis: Definitely. Some cards offer enhanced rebates on travel-related expenses and food expenses at restaurants. One of the coolest summer promos is offered through <DISCOVER< a>, which offers rebates on gas stations, hotels, theme parks, zoos, and bookstores.
Additionally Cardratings.com also offers a couple of fantastic articles on gas rebate and travel rewards to assist summer travelers:
- Gas Cards
- Frequent Flyer and Travel Reward Credit Cards
The bottom line is that you can really help defray expenses this summer using your credit card. Using a credit card to defray expenses - now that's a novel idea! :-)