Cut your gas bill with gas rebate credit cards
By Ben Woolsey
Purchasing gasoline for your vehicle is usually unavoidable. Why not get a percentage of that amount back each month with a gas rebate credit card?
How it works
The basic idea behind gas rebate cards is that cardholders receive a certain percentage of the amount they spend on gas each month back in the form of a credit applied to their credit card bill. It works similarly to a cash back rebate credit card with one notable exception: the gas rebate is often applied each month, whereas most cash back cards send out rebate checks once a year. This makes the savings easier to see for most consumers.
The rebate percentage a credit cardholder earns varies by offer from 1 percent to 6 percent, but the average is 3 percent. Many gas credit cards offer a higher introductory rate (such as 6 percent) which reduces over time to a lower amount. The best ones also offer features such as online account access and rebates for general purchases.
Most major gas companies offer brand-specific gas rebate cards, which may only be used at their locations. This is fine for customers who frequent a particular gas company often, but can be inconvenient for those who shop around for the best gas prices, and can be downright harrowing for someone searching for the right gas station on an empty tank. Recently, however, many general purpose credit cards began offering gas rebate rewards that can be accumulated with any gas purchase, from any company. Most of these cards offer a gas rebate percentage, as well as a lower rebate percentage for general purchases. For example, some gas reward cards offer a 3 percent rebate on any gas purchases, and 1-2 percent back on any other purchases made with that card. These types of credit cards are often more attractive to the consumer trying to cut down on the number of credit card accounts.
The rebates are usually issued at the end of each billing cycle in the form of a credit to the cardholder’s account. Sometimes, the rebate is delivered as a type of gift card for a specific vendor, gasoline or otherwise. The applicant should research the type of rebate given before applying, to make sure the rebate is appropriate to his or her needs.
Other factors to consider
Some gas rebate credit cards have other restrictions as well. For instance, a few programs allow a rebate to be earned only through pay-at-the-pump transactions, and not those at the inside counter. Others limit the total annual rebate amount ($300 is a common limit).
Fortunately, most gas reward credit cards do not require annual fees. The consumer should be aware, however, that the interest rates on gas rebate cards are often higher than a typical general use credit card. Consumers who carry a balance from month to month rather than paying off the account completely each month might be interested in other types of credit cards. Still, especially when prices at the pump are high, a gas rebate card is an attractive option for many consumers.
Before making any decision that could impact your credit, consult with a financial adviser or accountant. However, a gas credit cards may be one way to help you maintain a good credit history and provide you with the buying power that you need.
Published: August 23, 2005
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