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Gas rebate credit cards: Looking better all the time

By Ben Woolsey

Gas prices hit an all time high during the summer of 2006 and the pain at the pump, while somewhat less these days, is still being felt by almost everyone, from commuters to soccer moms. A great way to help ease the pain can be the use of a gasoline rebate credit card that allows you to lower your monthly fuel bill in several ways.

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However, many consumers who are interested in a rewards credit card are not sure which type of credit card is best. Before choosing a gasoline credit card over another type of reward credit card, such as one that offers cash back or miles, you need to consider a few things. First, what are the motivating factors. Do you want to reward themselves with something special, like a merchandise item or gift certificate? Or would you prefer to reduce or offset an unavoidable expense category, like fuel or airline travel? Second, do you have spending patterns that might allow you to get more value out of a certain type of reward credit card? For instance, a business traveler often will get more value out of an airline credit card than someone who rarely flies. Or someone who has a long commute to work or is a traveling salesperson might get more value from a gasoline credit card. It all depends on what you find most motivating and "rewarding". Rewards mean different things to different people -- it can be psychological or monetary.

Many gasoline rebate credit cards are issued in partnership between banks and oil companies that require the cardholder to use a particular gasoline retailer in order to earn and redeem their free gas. Other credit cards offer generic earning and redemption options, allowing the cardholders to choose where they fill up their tanks.

These credit cards are considered "reward" credit cards, but can also be considered "cash-back" credit cards, since they provide a cash rewards against future gasoline purchases. Specifically, they allow cardholders to earn points or a percentage cash back for every dollar they spend on the card, and often a higher percentage rebate on gasoline purchases. Then the cash back rebate is redeemed by being automatically applied toward future gasoline purchases, in the form of a statement credit. The cardholder doesn't need to do anything to collect their earnings -- they just simply keep using the card and can review their statement to see the current and program-to-date gas savings totals.

Consumers can feel better about their monthly fuel bills, which have doubled for many Americans in the past year, with a gas rebate credit card. And by leveraging their everyday spending on such things as groceries, drugstore items, monthly utilities, dry cleaning and department stores, people can significantly lower their gasoline cost. While there will always be some pain felt at the pump, it can be a good feeling to see the amount spent diminished when you review your monthly credit card billing statement.

Published: July 22, 2005


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