Gas credit cards: What are they, how to choose a card, are they worth it?

Written by
Jennifer Doss
Terms apply; see the online credit card application for full terms and conditions of offers and rewards.

If inflating gas prices have made it difficult for you to stick to your gas budget, you may be searching for ways to save at the pump. Enter gas credit cards.

These rewards credit cards are great for everyday credit card users looking to save on routine purchases– at gas stations and beyond.

But what exactly are these cards, and how do they work? How do you choose a card, and are they worth it? Let’s dive into the basics…

What is a gas card?

Gas rewards credit cards, which shouldn’t be confused with gas station cards, are credit cards that offer bonus rewards on purchases made at gas stations. These credit cards are more flexible than what’s offered by gas stations as they allow you to earn rewards on purchases at any gas station, and not just one particular chain. They often offer rewards in other categories too, like grocery and dining purchases, such as with the CardName which earns three points per dollar at gas stations, restaurants, supermarkets and more. Citi is a CardRatings advertiser.

Gas credit cards work in the same way that any rewards card works: simply swipe your card for gas purchases and earn. How much you will earn depends on the card, but some cards allow you to earn as much as 5% per dollar spent at the pump. And the rewards are automatic. There are no gas rewards programs or anything like that to sign up for. Just swipe, earn, and save. Rewards will accumulate as cash back, points or miles, depending on the type of card you have, and can be redeemed when you’re ready as cash back or a statement credit, put towards a trip or other experience, or exchanged for gift cards.

How to choose a gas credit card

It’s easy to find gas credit cards. You probably see ads or applications at the pump every time you fill up. But don’t apply for just any card – especially on a whim while pumping your gas and feeling the pain at the pump. That’s akin to applying for a store card just to save 20% off your purchase that same day. Instead, take the time to ensure you are selecting a credit card that will provide great rewards at the pump AND on other purchases that fit into your regular budget and lifestyle.

When it comes to comparing the best credit cards for gas, ask yourself these questions and consider the following issues:

  • What are the credit score requirements? Some cards are open to most applicants while others are limited to only those with very good or excellent credit. Know where you stand before applying.
  • Where can I earn rewards? You will need to fill up at specific gas stations to get rewards from a co-branded credit card (and those are the cards, frankly, that are likely to be offered on the tiny billboards on the gas pump). However, general purpose cash-back or travel rewards cards provide rewards regardless of where you buy fuel and will even reward you for purchases outside of those at the gas station. Plus, the rewards earned with a general purpose card are likely more flexible when it comes to redeeming them.
  • Notice the introductory offers. Many of the best credit cards allow you to earn a statement credit or chunk of rewards after spending a certain amount of money or even offer an intro 0% APR period on purchases or balance transfers. These offers may help to offset any fees that are charged, so they need to be taken into consideration, though even a fantastic welcome offer should not be the sole factor in determining whether you apply for a given card.
  • Are there restrictions on rewards? Scan the fine print to look for limitations. In particular, check whether rewards are capped and note if all purchases at a station, not just fuel, will earn rewards.
  • Interest rates. You have a better chance of getting a good interest rate if you have a higher credit score. Ideally, you are paying off your balance in full each billing cycle, though, in which case the interest rate won’t affect you.
  • Annual fees. Some cards don’t charge an annual fee, while others may charge $95 per year or more. As a result, it’s important to make sure that you’ll utilize the card and its perks enough to offset this cost.

Are gas credit cards worth it?

As with any product, it depends. If you don’t have a car and always ride the bus, then, no, it’s probably not worth it to apply for a gas card. If you drive a lot, however – maybe you have a daily commute, or you have kids and feel like a part-time chauffeur – then, yes, gas rewards credit cards are definitely worth applying for.

Importantly, keep in mind that the cards we recommend aren’t exclusively “gas rewards” cards; in fact, they are just solid rewards cards that also happen to reward you when you use them for gas. Additionally, a great rewards credit card is just the first step in a solid strategy to save at the pump. Find out more about how to save with this two-trick tip.

As with applying for any credit card, pay attention to the card’s full list of features, rewards and fees. Annual fees aren’t always a bad thing if you know you’ll more than offset it with the rewards you earn. The bottom line when selecting a gas rewards card is to do your homework and find the one that fits into your lifestyle and budget overall, not just at the pump.

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Disclaimer:

The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that credit card offers change frequently. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. See the online credit card application for full terms and conditions on offers and rewards. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying.

This content is not provided by any company mentioned in this article. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed here are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any such company. CardRatings.com does not review every company or every offer available on the market.

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