2018 gas card survey: Gas cards trail in the race to fill up your wallet

Some gas cards beat cash back when fuel is cheap, but general cards are more flexible

Brady Porche
Managing Editor
Personal finance journalist with an eye for industry news

2018 gas card survey: Gas cards trail in the race to fill up your wallet

The content on this page is accurate as of the posting date. Please review our list of best credit cards, or use our CardMatch tool to find cards matched to your needs.

Drivers can save at the pump with gas cards, but general cash back cards are better at re-fueling our wallets, according to a new CreditCards.com survey.

Our latest survey of 28 major gas station credit cards shows that while most offer some kind of fuel discount or rebate, the average per-gallon savings is 5 cents. That falls short when compared to general purpose cash back cards that offer 2 to 5 percent off at gas stations, even though the average gas price is low ($2.66 per gallon as of April 10, per AAA).

There are a handful of cards that offer discounts as high as 25 cents per gallon – beating out general cash back cards that offer quarterly 5 percent bonuses on gas – but they tend to have minimum spending requirements or time limits for those big savings. Plus, many gas cards have high APRs and low credit limits and can’t be used just anywhere.

“General purpose credit cards that give the customer an opportunity to use their miles and points have greater appeal versus credit cards that only accumulate rewards for spending at an individual gas station,” said Rahul Srinivasan, a marketing intelligence spokesman at LoyaltyOne. 

Here’s what else our survey found about gas cards: 

  • You don’t want to carry a balance. The average APR for the cards we surveyed is 23.61 percent, well above the national average for general purpose cards (16.62 percent, per the CreditCards.com Weekly Credit Card Rate Report). Nine of the cards in our survey had APRs of 28.24 percent.
  • Most are only good at one kind of gas station. Only 11 cards were co-branded with payment networks such as Visa and Mastercard, meaning they can be used almost anywhere. Gas cards that are not co-branded can only be used at their respective stations.
  • Some cash back cards don’t measure up to them. General purpose cards that offer 1.5 percent cash back on all spending save you slightly less than 5-cents-per-gallon gas cards at the current average gas price. But drivers who live in expensive-gas states such as California ($3.52 per gallon) can save more with 1.5 percent cash back cards.
  • Many of them have introductory offers. Twelve of the cards in our survey advertised introductory offers, typically featuring increased per-gallon discounts and rebates. 

2018 Gas Card Survey Data

76 Drive Savvy Rewards Credit Card

Purchase APR28.24%
Intro Reward OfferEarn 50 cents per gallon for the first 30 days, and 10 cents per gallon from day 31 to day 90.
Standard gas reward offerEarn 5 cents per gallon after the first 90 days.
Annual feeNone
NoteMust purchase at least 45 gallons or more per billing cycle to earn rewards, up to 110 gallons; Maximum $99 in fuel credits per year.

BP Credit Card

Purchase APR28.24%
Intro reward offerEarn 25 cents off per gallon for every $100 you spend for the first 90 days your account is open (excluding non-BP gas stations).
Standard gas reward offerAfter 90 days, earn 10 cents off per gallon for every $100 you spend at BP locations.
Annual feeNone

BP Visa Credit Card

Purchase APR28.24%
Intro reward offerEarn 25 cents off per gallon for every $100 you spend with for the first 90 days your account is open (excluding non-BP gas stations).
Standard gas reward offerAfter 90 days, earn 25 cents off per gallon for every $100 you spend at BP locations, 15 cents off per gallon for every $100 you spend on eligible groceries, dining and travel and 5 cents off per gallon for every $100 you spend everywhere else Visa credit cards are accepted (excluding non-BP branded gas stations).
Annual feeNone

Buc-ee's Platinum Mastercard

Purchase APR7.99-17.99%
Intro reward offerNone
Standard gas reward offerEarn 10 cents per gallon when you buy gas at any Buc-ee's station.
Annual feeNone
NoteCard features other perks, including a $2,000 minimum line of credit, $1 million travel accident insurance, price protection, ID theft restoration services, baggage delay insurance, extended warranty, Mastercard global service, no penalty pricing, no cash advance fee, no balance transfer fee, no over credit limit fees, no default APR, no minimum finance charges, no currency conversion charges and 0% introductory APR for balance transfers for 12 months.

Chevron and/or Texaco Techron Advantage Visa Card

Purchase APR28.24%
Intro Reward OfferEarn 5% cash back on purchases for the first four months (excluding fuel merchants) if approved between 4/1/18 and 9/30/18 (maximum $25 will be paid as statement credit).
Standard gas reward offerEarn 3 cents per gallon in fuel credits every fill-up, every time at Chevron and Texaco stations; Earn 10 cents per gallon in fuel credits when you spend $300 outside of fuel merchants each month; Or earn 20 cents per gallon in fuel credits when you spend $1,000 outside of fuel merchants each month.
Annual feeNone
NoteA maximum of $300 in total fuel credits may be earned in any calendar year.

Chevron and/or Texaco Techron Advantage Credit Card

Purchase APR28.24%
Intro reward offerNone
Standard gas reward offerEarn 3 cents per gallon every fill-up, every time at Chevron and Texaco stations.
Annual feeNone

Chevron and/or Texaco Techron Advantage Premium Credit Card

Purchase APR28.24%
Intro reward offerNone
Standard gas reward offerEarn 3 cents per gallon every fill-up, every time at Chevron and Texaco stations.
Annual fee$25
NoteThe annual fee covers extra premium membership benefits. The terms are identical to the Chevron and/or Texaco Techron Advantage Credit Card, other than the membership benefits; if you cancel your Premium Membership, your "credit privileges" are not affected. Card perks include mechanical expert opinion service, $25,000 travel insurance, special discounts on car rental and hotel rates and 5% travel rebates (applies to airline tickets, car rentals and lodging when booking through Chevron/Texaco's travel reservation service).

CITGO Rewards card

Purchase APR28.24%
Intro reward offerEarn 10 cents per gallon within the first three months of account opening.
Standard gas reward offerAfter the introductory period, earn 5 cents per gallon.
Annual feeNone

Clark Crown Endless Rewards Mastercard

Purchase APR13.49-19.49%
Intro reward offerNone, but it has an intro APR of 1.99% for the first six months.
Standard gas reward offerEarn 1.5% for each dollar spent at Clark Crown branded locations only; earn 1% for each dollar at merchant locations, excluding fuel and service station merchant categories.
Annual feeNone
NoteReceive a $15 Clark Crown gift card with your first purchase.

Conoco Drive Savvy Rewards Credit Card

Purchase APR28.24%
Intro reward offerEarn 50 cents per gallon for the first 30 days, and 10 cents per gallon from day 31 to day 90.
Standard gas reward offerEarn 5 cents per gallon after the first 90 days.
Annual feeNone
NoteMust purchase at least 45 gallons or more in a billing cycle to earn rewards, up to 110 gallons; maximum $99 in fuel credits per year.

ExxonMobil Smart Card

Purchase APR26.49%
Intro reward offerNone
Standard gas reward offerEarn 6 cents off every gallon, every day at more than 11,000 Exxon and Mobil stations.
Annual feeNone
NoteCard has other perks, including Citi Identity Theft Solutions if you become a victim of identity theft, flexible payment terms (choose your billing date), fuel cost tracking and ATM cash access.

Gulf Card

Purchase APR12-36%
Intro reward offerNone
Standard gas reward offerNone
Annual feeNone

Gulf Visa Card

Purchase APR19.24-25.24%
Intro reward offerNone
Standard gas reward offerEarn 3 points per $1 spent on purchases made at Gulf gas stations; earn 1 point per $1 spent on other everyday purchases.
Annual feeNone
NoteGet a $20 Gulf Gift Card for every 2,000 points earned.

Holiday Smart Savings Credit Card

Purchase APR18%
Intro reward offerFor at least 90 days after account opening, discounts and rebates earned during each billing cycle are doubled.
Standard gas reward offerEarn 5 cents per gallon rollback on all fuel purchases and a 5% rebate on qualifying in-store purchases.
Annual feeNone
NoteThe 5 cents per gallon rollback is applied instantly to fuel purchases when you pay. No rebate for purchases of cigarettes, tobacco, alcohol, gift cards, lottery, money orders and licenses. Purchases of in-store services are not eligible for rebates.

Marathon Credit Card

Purchase APR26.24%
Intro reward offerNone
Standard gas reward offerEarn a 2 cents per gallon rebate on all Marathon purchases.
Annual feeNone
NoteOnce you accumulate $10 in rebates from your Marathon purchases, you'll receive a $10 Cash Card good at any Marathon location. There is no limit to the amount of Cash Cards you can receive.

Marathon Visa Credit card

Purchase APR18.24-26.24%
Intro reward offerNone
Standard gas reward offerTiered reward program: Earn unlimited rebates on all your Marathon purchases; 25 cents per gallon rebate on all Marathon purchases when you spend $1,000 or more per month; 15 cents per gallon rebate when you spend $500-$999 per month; 5 cents per gallon rebate when you spend less than $500 per month; $25 Marathon cash card every time you earn $25 in rebates.
Annual feeNone

Meijer Mastercard

Purchase APR21.24-25.24%
Intro reward offerNone
Standard gas reward offerEarn 10 cents per gallon at Meijer Gas Stations every day.
Annual feeNone
NoteCard offers $10 off your first purchase (expires 30 days after card approval, and many exclusions apply); earn $10 reward for every $750 spent.

Murphy USA Platinum Edition Visa Card

Purchase APR25.99%
Intro reward offerNone
Standard gas reward offerSave 5 cents per gallon every day at Murphy stores.
Annual feeNone
NoteEarn 1 point (equal to 1% cash back) on other purchases, except on fuel at the pump, or purchases at non-Murphy service stations.

Phillips 66 Drive Savvy Rewards Credit Card

Purchase APR28.24%
Intro reward offerEarn 50 cents per gallon for the first 30 days, and 10 cents per gallon from day 31 to day 90.
Standard gas reward offerEarn 5 cents per gallon after the first 90 days.
Annual feeNone
NoteMust purchase at least 45 gallons or more in a billing cycle to earn rewards, up to 110 gallons; Maximum $99 in fuel credits per year.

QuikTrip Credit Card

Purchase APR26.99%
Intro reward offerEarn 25 cents off per gallon in the first two billing cycles (up to 200 gallons).
Standard gas reward offer3 cents off per gallon roll-back at the pump every day.
Annual feeNone
NoteCard offers 100 bonus points on your first statement; earn 1 point per $1 spent on qualifying in-store purchases; get a $10 QuikTrip gift card every time you reach 200 points.

Sheetz Visa Card

Purchase APR19.24-25.24%
Intro reward offerNone
Standard gas reward offerSave 5 cents per gallon when you use your Sheetz Visa Card at Sheetz pumps; Save another 3 cents per gallon when you combine the Visa card with your MySheetz (rewards) card.
Annual feeNone
NoteCard also offers 5% back on Sheetz in-store purchases and 1% back on all other qualifying purchases (excluding non-Sheetz service stations and fuel purchases).

Shell Drive for Five

Purchase APR26.49%
Intro reward offerGet 25 cents off every gallon of Shell fuel for the first two months after your account open date (must apply by 12/31/18).
Standard gas reward offerGet 5 cents off every gallon, every time you use the card.
Annual feeNone
NoteCard offers Citi Identity Theft Solutions if you become victim of identity theft.

Shell Platinum Select MasterCard

Purchase APR25.49%
Intro reward offerNone
Standard gas reward offerIf you make qualifying purchases totaling $500 or more in a single billing cycle, you will receive a cent per gallon statement credit on the first 100 gallons of Shell fuel you purchase in the next billing cycle. The amount of your credit is based upon the total amount of qualifying purchases as shown: $500 - $999.99: 10 cents; $1,000 - $2,499.99: 15 cents; more than $2,499.99: 20 cents.
Annual feeNone

Sinclair Green Card

Purchase APRN/A (charge card)
Intro reward offerNone
Standard gas reward offer5 cents per gallon or 10 cents per gallon (it varies among participating Sinclair stations).
Annual feeNone

Speedway Speedy Rewards Mastercard

Purchase APR20.24-26.24%
Intro reward offerEarn 25,000 bonus points when you spend at least $500 in the first 3 billing cycles.
Standard gas reward offerEarn 50 points per dollar spent at Speedway, and earn 10 points per dollar on other purchases.
Annual feeNone
NoteYou can redeem points for gas, food and more; you can also merge your card into your existing Speedy Rewards account. Speedy Rewards points can be redeemed for in-store purchases and other items at the online Speedy Rewards Marketplace.

Sunoco Rewards card

Purchase APR26.49%
Intro reward offerNone
Standard gas reward offerSave 5 cents on every gallon.
Annual feeNone
NoteCard offers Citi Identity Theft Solutions if you're ever a victim of identity theft.

Valero credit card

Purchase APR23%
Intro reward offerNone
Standard gas reward offerEarn 4 cents per gallon on every gallon purchased when you buy at least 50 gallons per billing cycle or earn 8 cents per gallon on every gallon purchased when you buy at least 75 gallons per billing cycle (up to a maximum of 110 gallons).
Annual feeNone

Wawa Credit Card

Purchase APR26.49%
Intro reward offerSave 25 cents per gallon for the first two months.
Standard gas reward offerAfter two months, save 5 cents per gallon.
Annual feeNone
NoteYou will receive statement credits up to 100 gallons per billing cycle; total annual credit not to exceed $60. Card offers Citi Identity Theft Solutions if you're ever a victim of identity theft.



 

Gas cards no longer running on empty

Gas-branded credit cards appeared to fall out of favor with consumers in recent years. However, there’s evidence now that drivers aren’t quite ready to toss cards from their favorite gas station brands out of the window.

Research firm Colloquy reported in its 2015 Loyalty Census that fuel and convenience loyalty program memberships had fallen 3 percent to 24.5 million members from 2012 to 2014. But the firm’s latest report in 2017 showed a remarkable jump in the fuel and convenience category to 43.7 million memberships between 2014 and 2016.

Additionally, our 2015 gas card survey noted that 11 cards we featured in the 2012 survey had either been taken off the market or significantly reworked. Only three of the cards we profiled in 2015 are no longer available, and 11 new cards were added to this year’s survey. One of the new cards – the QuikTrip credit card – resurfaced after being noted as discontinued in our 2015 report.

Only one issuer with a card featured in 2015 – Barclays – is no longer represented in our survey, its Gulf Platinum Mastercard having been discontinued.

“As our U.S. card business has grown over the past 17 years, we have refined our focus on building highly customized programs for a smaller number of larger, more strategic partners across the travel, retail, entertainment and financial industries,” a Barclays spokesperson said via email. 

Can gas cards keep up with general-purpose rewards cards?

General-purpose rewards cards usually offer greater flexibility, more perks and lower APRs, but there are cases in which gas cards can save you more – particularly when fuel is cheap. The price of regular gasoline has remained below $3 per gallon since the fall of 2014, when a global oversupply of oil and natural gas led to a fuel price plunge.

Gas card vs. general purpose cash back card savings at $2.66* per gallon of gas


Reward or per-gallon discount Cost to fill up 15-gallon tank, after rewards or discount Amount saved
25 cents per gallon $36.15 $3.75
5% cash back $37.90 $2
10 cents per gallon $38.40 $1.50
3% cash back $38.70 $1.20
2% cash back $39.10 $0.80
5 cents per gallon $39.15 $0.75
1.5% cash back $39.30 $0.60
3 cents per gallon $39.45 $0.45

*Average price of gas in the U.S. on April 10, 2018, per AAA. At that price, it costs $39.90 to fill up a 15-gallon tank.

A gas card with a 5 cents-per-gallon discount would save a driver $0.75 on a 15-gallon-tank fill-up at the current average gas price of $2.66. A general-purpose card that offers 1.5 percent cash back on all purchases – such as the Chase Freedom Unlimited or the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards – would only save you $0.60 on 15 gallons.

A gas card with a 10-cents-per-gallon discount – which saves you $1.50 on a 15-gallon gas purchase – beats out some general-purpose cards that reward gas station spending. For example, the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card, which offers 3 percent cash back at gas stations, would save you $1.20 on 15 gallons. (The Blue Cash Preferred card also has an annual fee of $95, but a new cardholder could cover that with a $200 statement credit earned after spending $1,000 in his first month of membership.)

Some general-purpose cards, such as  the Chase Freedom, offer 5 percent cash back on gas station spending during a specific quarter. That level of saving is hard to beat, unless your gas card offers 25 cents off per gallon. A driver with a 5 percent rotating category card would save $2 on a 15-gallon fill-up when gas station spending is one of the categories. But he could instead swipe a gas card that has a 25-cents-per-gallon discount and save a whopping $3.75. However, both deals are time-limited.

But 25 cents per gallon is a relatively uncommon and hard-to-obtain discount. Six of the cards we surveyed offer it, and only for a limited time or after you meet a minimum spending threshold.

What if pump prices are high where you live?

Gas cards are less competitive with general-purpose cards when the price of gasoline is high, and in some states fuel costs are well above average. For example, in California, a gallon of regular gasoline cost $3.52 as of April 6.

Gas card vs. general purpose cash back cards savings at $3.52* per gallon of gas


Reward or per-gallon discount Cost to fill up 15-gallon tank, after rewards or discount Amount saved
25 cents per gallon $49 $3.75
5% cash back $50.16 $2.64
3% cash back $51.21 $1.59
10 cents per gallon $51.30 $1.50
2% cash back $51.74 $1.06
1.5% cash back $52.01 $0.79
5 cents per gallon $52.05 $0.75
3 cents per gallon $52.35 $0.45

*Average price of gas in California on April 10, 2018, per AAA. At that price, it costs $52.80 to fill up a 15-gallon tank.

A 10-cents-per-gallon card would save you more in the Golden State than cash back cards with 1.5 to 2 percent return rates. Nevertheless, you’d be better served by using a 3 percent cash back card or one with a 5 percent rotating category bonus on gas station spending, when available. However, a 25-cents-per-gallon gas card still beats them all. 

Even though gas prices are expected to remain low – the Energy Information Administration forecasts an average price of $2.58 per gallon in 2019 – there are signs that consumers are revving up their fuel spending. The average Bank of America card holder spent 10 percent more on gasoline in 2017 ($1,385 per customer) than in 2016, according to data from the bank.

Loyalty program expert Brian Woolf noted that gas prices can vary greatly between different fuel retailers. If your most convenient options are limited to one or two nearby stations that charge above the average gas price, a gas card may not be the best option.

“There are certain gas companies where the prices are so high that I don’t understand why people sign up for a gas card with them,” Woolf said.

"General purpose credit cards that give the customer an opportunity to use their miles and points have greater appeal versus credit cards that only accumulate rewards for spending at an individual gas station."

Why get a gas credit card?

So, when should you consider a gas card instead of a general-purpose card that offers blanket cash back or extra rewards for gas station purchases? Here are a few instances in which it might make sense:

  • You’re new to credit. Brian Riley, credit advisory service directory at Mercator Advisory Group, noted that gas cards tend to have low credit limits and are relatively easy to qualify for. (General-purpose cards with rewards tend to require good-to-excellent credit.) A low-limit card that allows you to spend only at a specific brand of gas station can keep you from ringing up high balances and potentially missing a payment while you’re building a credit history.
  • You’re loyal to one brand of gasoline. If there’s a Shell, Exxon or Chevron station located one block away from your house, and it always stocks your favorite beer and snacks, chances are you make lots of purchases there. If that station offers a card with a per-gallon discount and rewards on in-store spending, it could save you a significant amount in the long run.
  • You’re planning a big road trip. A gas card with an introductory offer of 25 cents per gallon can save you a lot on a vacation in which you’ll spend many hours behind the wheel. Just keep in mind that gas cards typically don’t feature roadside assistance – a little-known benefit of many general-purpose cards.

Gas cards with introductory offers

  • 76 Drive Savvy Rewards credit card: 50 cents per gallon for the first 30 days, 10 cents per gallon from day 31 to day 90, then 5 cents per gallon after the first 90 days when you open the card; must purchase at least 45 gallons or more in a billing cycle, up to 110 gallons; maximum $99 in fuel credits per year.
  • BP Visa credit card: 25 cents per gallon for every $100 you spend for the first 90 days your account is open (excluding non-BP gas stations); after 90 days, 25 cents per gallon for every $100 spent at BP locations, 15 cents per gallon for every $100 on eligible groceries, dining and travel, and 5 cents per gallon for every $100 spent wherever Visa cards are accepted (except non-BP gas stations).
  • BP credit card: 25 cents per gallon for every $100 you spend for the first 90 days your account is open (excluding non-BP gas stations); after 90 days, 10 cents per gallon for every $100 spent at BP locations.
  • Chevron and/or Texaco Techron Advantage Visa Card: Earn 5 percent cash back on purchases for the first four months (excluding fuel merchants) if approved between 4/1/18 and 9/30/18 (Maximum $25 will be paid as statement credit).
  • CITGO Rewards card: 10 cents per gallon within the first three months of opening the account; after that, 5 cents per gallon.
  • Conoco Drive Savvy Rewards credit card: 50 cents per gallon for the first 30 days, 10 cents per gallon from day 31 to day 90, then 5 cents per gallon after the first 90 days when you open the card; must purchase at least 45 gallons or more in a billing period, up to 110 gallons; maximum $99 in fuel credits per year.
  • Holiday Smart Savings credit card: Double discounts and rebates for at least 90 days after account is opened; the normal discount is 5 cents per gallon and the normal rebate is 5 percent on qualifying in-store purchases.
  • Phillips 66 Drive Savvy Rewards credit card: 50 cents per gallon for the first 30 days, 10 cents per gallon from day 31 to day 90, then 5 cents per gallon after the first 90 days when you open the card; must purchase at least 45 gallons or more in a billing period, up to 110 gallons; maximum $99 in fuel credits per year.
  • QuikTrip credit card: 25 cents per gallon in the first two billing cycles (up to 200 gallons); 3 cents per gallon roll-back at the pump every day.
  • Shell Drive for Five: 25 cents per gallon of Shell fuel for the first two months after your account open date; after that, 5 cents per gallon every time you use the card.
  • Speedway Speedy Rewards Mastercard: 25,000 bonus points when you spend at least $500 in the first three billing cycles.
  • Wawa credit card: 25 cents per gallon for the first two months; after that 5 cents per gallon.

Gas is gas, unless you’re a fuel aficionado  

Gas cards were initially created by fuel merchants to promote customer loyalty, but drivers have many more options to save at the pump with general rewards cards nowadays. And while some motorists may have strong bonds with their favorite gas retailers, many of us just fill up at the station with the cheapest gas. (A 2017 study by Market Force Information showed 77 percent of consumers cite fuel price as the most critical factor in selecting a station.)

If you’re a fan of one type of filling station, and you always know where to find it, a gas card may be the right option for you. But a general-purpose card won’t put the brakes on your journey if you’re on “E” and you pull up to the first pump you see.

“I think there’s value in gas cards, but it’s a complex market,” Mercator’s Riley said. “I know Shell or Exxon wouldn’t agree with this, but to me gas is gas, and that’s an important consideration.”

See related: Can my gas station charge me for using my card?, Gas pump and ATM skimmers: How to spot them 


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Updated: 12-10-2018