Should I get whichever gas card has the highest rewards rate?
No. It’s natural for consumers to simply look for the card offering the best rewards, but in reality, whether you’re looking for a gas rewards credit card, an airline credit card, a hotel credit card, etc., the card with the highest on-paper rewards won’t necessarily be the most lucrative for you. For example, a card affiliated with a specific gas-station chain might offer the highest cash-back rate, but if it’s inconvenient for you to fill up there, the extra rewards won’t do you much good.
Keep that in mind as you consider the following gas credit cards, which are among our editors’ favorites:
Here Are 2017’s Best Gas Cards
For the full list of what our editors consider to be the most rewarding gas cards on the market right now, check out our Best Gas Credit Cards page
Do I need to drive a certain amount for gas rewards credit cards to be worth it?
Yes. According to the Island Approach, you should get rewards credit cards that have benefits that match your top 2-3 spending categories. This way you can maximize your rewards without ending up with a million different credit cards in your wallet. Besides, if you only spend a relatively small amount on gas each month, a gas rewards credit card really wouldn’t do much for you. Say, for example, you only spend $50 a month on gas. Even if you get a gas rebate credit card offering 5% cash back, you’d only be saving $24 per year relative to a standard cash back credit card offering 1% across all purchases. That’s probably not worth the hassle (definitely not if an annual fee is involved). Ultimately, as a good rule of thumb, you need to spend more than $200/mo. for a gas card to be worthwhile.
Can I get a gas credit card with bad credit?
Most gas rewards credit cards require good or excellent credit for approval. You even need at least fair credit to get a gas card that can only be used at a certain gas-station chain. But that doesn’t mean you’re out of luck.
If you want the convenience of paying at the pump (especially important when it’s cold out or you’re in a hurry), you can simply open a secured credit card
. Secured credit cards offer nearly guaranteed approval, given that you are required to place a refundable security deposit which acts as your spending limit. Plus, some secured cards offer rewards from time to time.
Things to know before using your gas credit card
One thing to watch out for is gas stations charging different prices depending on whether customers pay with cash, credit or debit. Unfavorable pricing could easily wipe out any savings garnered from your gas credit card.
Also, have you ever noticed that when you buy gas with a credit card, the transaction gets approved or denied before you actually start filling up your tank? It’s definitely something to consider, especially if you have a low credit limit or you’ve opted-in for the ability to spend more than your credit limit.
Because credit card companies don’t know how much your gas will cost, they preemptively block off a certain amount of your available credit. Each issuer has its own policy when it comes to these “blocks” (also known as holds). But you have to assume that most credit card companies will put enough available credit on hold to cover the cost of filling up the tank of an average-sized car with regular gas. Depending on the price of gas, you should therefore make sure to have at least $50 - $60 in available credit when you head to the pump. Otherwise, the purchase might be declined, perhaps leaving you stranded.
Similarly, you might end up buying more gas than the amount of the hold. And that could bring your balance above your spending limit, resulting in over-limit fees for business-card users and consumers who’ve opted-in to go over-limit.
Finally, even if you purchase only a small amount of gas, the difference between what you spend and the amount put on hold might not be released for up to three days. This could certainly disrupt your spending plans following your trip to the pump.
How can I complement my gas credit card rewards and save more at the pump?
Using a gas credit card is merely one of the ways that you can save on fuel consumption. In addition to this, you can use a website like GasBuddy, which identifies the lowest gas prices in your area. Many supermarkets also have loyalty programs that allow you to earn gas rebates based on your spending. Opening the gas reward credit card tied to the same gas station as your supermarket loyalty program therefore also represents a great way to save extra.