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Comparing Credit Cards for Gas and Auto Rewards
Gas credit cards provide special rewards like cash back, points, and rebates for purchasing gas. If you’re interested in a gas credit card, note that there are several types, each with a unique set of benefits and conditions. Beyond saving money at the pump, the best gas credit cards can help you build credit, lower your grocery bill, and start collecting valuable points you can use toward other things like travel rewards.
In this guide to gas credit cards, you’ll learn:
With many different types of gas cards, you’re in a position to find a card tailored to your needs. Whether you’re a small business owner who does a lot of local traveling, a commuter student or a brand-loyal consumer looking for a gas credit card, there’s an option for you. Read on before making a decision!
Editor’s picks: Gas credit card details
Sam’s Club® Mastercard®: Best for supersized gas rewards
Why we picked it: This Mastercard credit card offers a whopping 5% cash back on gas purchases (up to the first $6,000 per year) anywhere, meaning you’re not beholden to only filling up at its eponymous wholesale club. Cardholders also earn 3% cash back on dining and 1% cash back on other purchases, with a maximum of $5,000 cash back per year.
Pros: You’ll also receive a small account opening offer: a $30 statement credit if you spend $30 in Sam’s Club purchases within 30 days of account opening. There’s no annual fee, though a $45 Sam’s Club membership is required. Plus, as a nice surprise, there are no foreign transaction fees, a benefit highly uncommon among store-branded credit cards.
Cons: The rewards redemption program is restrictive: You can only put rewards toward Sam’s Club expenses or statement credits, unless you redeem for cash back at the wholesale retailer. Moreover, you only receive rewards once a year in February and those rewards expire if you don’t redeem them by Dec. 31 of that same year. You’ll also lose rewards if your Sam’s Club membership lapses before February.
Who should apply? Sam’s Club shoppers driving around in gas guzzlers can take advantage of a best-in-class return on gas purchases without restrictions on where they fill up.
Read our Sam’s Club Mastercard review.
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Best for family spending
Why we picked it: The Blue Cash Preferred Card is one of the most lucrative cards on the market due to its exceptional cash back program. With so many high-earning spending categories, it makes the daily grocery runs, the gas station visits and even the family binge-watching sessions that much more rewarding.
Pros: The Blue Cash Preferred offers a competitive 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and transit; 6% back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 a year, then 1%); 6% back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions; and a $150 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first six months of card membership. Plus, in those six months you’ll also have the opportunity to earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases, up to $200 back. No other card offers as high of earnings at U.S. supermarkets, and the earnings on U.S. gas stations are more than competitive.
Cons: This card’s annual fee is hefty at $95 ($0 introductory annual fee for the first year). Also, the heightened cash back rewards are only available in the U.S.
Who should apply? Family shoppers who often spend at grocery stores and gas stations might want to start bringing this card along on their errands thanks to its built-in cash back discounts.
Read our Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express review.
Discover it® Student chrome: Best for students
Why we picked it: It can be difficult to find a student credit card that offers a rewards structure as high as this card. This no annual fee card offers 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants for up to $1,000 in combined purchases per quarter (then 1%) and 1% on all other purchases. Plus, all the cash back you earn is matched at the end of your first year thanks to Discover.
Pros: Students get rewards for good grades in the form of a $20 statement credit for each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next five years. A small incentive, but this card comes with several more benefits: no credit history required, access to your FICO score, no APR changes for late payments and a 6-month introductory 0% APR on purchases (then 12.99% to 21.99%, variable).
Cons: While ideal for a consumer just starting out, this is a card you will outgrow rather quickly. There is no penalty APR for late payments, but a late payment fee of up to $40 will apply after the first time you pay late.
Who should apply? This card is a great choice for anyone building credit. Thanks to high-traffic categories, useful perks and matched first-year cash back, the Discover it Student chrome might be the best student card out there.
Read our Discover it Student chrome review.
Citi Rewards+® Card: Best for bonus points
Why we picked it: The Citi Rewards Card offers a unique rewards rate that makes it easy to rack in those bonus points. With the Citi ThankYou points rate, even the smallest everyday purchases, like a cup of coffee or a tank of gas have the potential to be very rewarding.
Pros: There are myriad ways to earn with this card. Not only do you get 2X points at gas stations and supermarkets (on up to $6,000 each year, 1X thereafter), but the sign-up bonus you’ll get is top-notch. You’ll earn a 15,000 point bonus after a $1,000 spend in the first three months. Plus, your rewards are always rounded up to the nearest 10 points – meaning a $1.29 pack of gum is worth a full 10 points. Also, you’ll get 10% of your points back on the ThankYou points you redeem for up to 100,000 points per year.
Cons: There are a couple of fees that might scare you away: The balance transfer fee is 3% or $5, whichever is greater, and there is a foreign transaction fee of 3%. Also, your travel redemption is limited to only the ThankYou Travel Portal.
Who should apply? Those looking for a straightforward rewards program for their everyday purchases might want to consider the Citi Rewards+. Also, if you find yourself making lots of small purchases, the round up feature might be for you.
Read our Citi Rewards+® Card review.
Discover it® Secured Credit Card: Best for limited credit history
Why we picked it: It can be a challenge to find a secured credit card that offers a high rewards structure and generous benefits. The Discover it Secured card gives you tools that can help you stay on track financially, all the while maximizing your savings.
Pros: Earn 2% back at gas stations and restaurants (up to $1,000 in combined purchases quarterly, then 1%) and 1% on all other purchases. To cap it off, your cash back is matched at the end of your first year of card membership. That means if you spend $200 a month on gas and dining out, that comes to $48 for the year, plus another $48 matched at the end of your first year. Also, your credit will grow thanks to benefits like credit report alerts and a review for a credit line increase after 8 months.
Cons: If you think you might be tempted to overspend with this starter card because of the rewards, this may not be the best choice for you.
Who should apply? The Discover it Secured card might be the best of its kind, offering easy access, generous rewards and tools to build your credit score. Those with limited credit looking for a secured option to get started should look no further.
Read our Discover it® Secured Credit Card review.
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for flat-rate rewards
Why we picked it: Thanks to a simple rewards structure, this card could be an ideal option if you don’t prefer to keep track of rotating categories and would rather earn a flat-rate cash back on all purchases.
Pros: You’ll earn 1.5% cash back not only on gas, but on all purchases, no matter the category. Also, the QuicksilverOne typically accepts consumers with fair credit, which is handy if you are trying to improve your credit, and you also want to practice using rewards.
Cons: This cash back card has the unusual feature of an annual fee ($39), which lowers your overall rewards. That means to benefit from the 1.5% back, you’ll need to spend at least $2,700 each year to break even. Also, the card’s APR is high (26.99%, variable), so carrying a balance could be costly.
Who should apply? Those with fair credit who still want to earn cash back rewards are a good fit for this card. It has some tough competition, however: the Discover it® Student chrome and Discover it® Secured Credit Card offer similar rewards without an annual fee.
Read our Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card review.
Discover it® chrome: Best for no annual fee
Why we picked it: Ideal for the cardholder with good to excellent credit, this card offers a decent rewards rate. Also, the lack of annual fee means you won’t have to worry about it potentially cutting into your cash back earnings.
Pros: The Discover it chrome gives you all the benefits of the Discover it Secured – 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (up to $1,000 in combined purchases quarterly, then 1%) – but without the need for a security deposit on your line of credit. This card also gives you the opportunity for a lower ongoing interest rate (11.99% to 22.99% variable).
Cons: Like many Discover cards, this card offers a Cashback Match at the end of the first year in lieu of a traditional sign-up bonus. Consider another card if you want gas rewards and a sign-up bonus.
Who should apply? If you spend a lot of time on the road or dining out, this card offers several ways to capitalize without sacrificing an annual fee.
Read our Discover it® chrome review.
Credit One Bank® Platinum Rewards Visa: Best for credit-builders
Why we picked it: This Credit One Bank credit card offers a better-than-most rewards program for a card that’s available to people with fair credit: You can earn 5% cash back on eligible gas, groceries, cell phone services, internet, and cable or satellite TV service purchases (on first $5,000 in spending per year, then 1%), and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Pros: While the bonus categories are capped to 5% cash back on $5,000 in spending per year (then 1%), there’s no holistic cap on the amount of cash back you can earn. The card also comes with access to free online credit monitoring.
Cons: The card does have the common costs associated with credit cards for fair credit, including a $95 annual fee, which can eat into your rewards earnings. There’s also a variable 23.99% APR, which you can avoid by not carrying a balance. Plus, you’ll start with a low credit limit: $500 minus the annual fee. (You may qualify for credit limit increases with consistent good credit behavior.)
Who should apply? People with fair-to-good credit who may not qualify for a top-tier rewards credit card may enjoy this card’s blend of rewards and credit-building features.
Read our Credit One Bank Platinum Rewards Visa review.
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi: Best for gas stations
Why we picked it: As one of the most gratifying gas credit cards, the Costco Anywhere Visa can help you earn extra cash back through everyday purchases. Plus, it has an extraordinary cash back rate on gas.
Pros: This may just be your best shot at finding a gas card most worthy of your wallet – earn 4% cash back on eligible gas purchases (that’s for the first $7,000 per year, then it’s 1% back after that). There are other great rewards, including 3% back at restaurants and eligible travel purchases, as well as a solid 2% back for Costco purchases.
Cons: There’s no annual bonus, as well as no sign-up bonus, and you’ll need to pay the $60 annual Costco membership fee to avoid an annual fee with this card.
Who should apply? Costco members and those who spend a lot of time with their foot on the gas pedal can benefit greatly from this card, but there’s better value out there if you want a more well-rounded card.
Read our Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi review.
Comparing the best gas credit cards
|Card||Rewards rate at U.S. gas stations||Annual fee||Review score|
|Sam’s Club® Mastercard®||5% on gas anywhere (up to $6,000)||No annual fee||2.9 / 5|
|Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express||3%||$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95||4.0 / 5|
|Discover it® Student chrome||2% (at gas stations and restaurants, up to $1,000 in combined spend per quarter, then 1%)||$0||4.1 / 5|
|Citi Rewards+® Card||2X (2X at gas stations and supermarkets up to $6,000 per year, then 1X)||$0||3.2 / 5|
|Discover it® Secured Credit Card||2% (at gas stations and restaurants, up to $1,000 in combined spend per quarter, then 1%)||$0||4.1 / 5|
|Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card||1.5%||$39||3.5 / 5|
|Discover it® chrome||2% (at gas stations and restaurants, up to $1,000 in combined spend per quarter, then 1%)||$0||3.9 / 5|
|Credit One Bank® Platinum Rewards Visa||5% cash back on eligible gas, groceries, cell phone services, internet, and cable or satellite TV service purchases (on first $5,000 in spending per year, then 1%)||$95||3.7 / 5|
|Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi||4% (first $7,000 in per year purchases, then 1%)||$0||2.3 / 5|
Research methodology: How we chose the best gas credit cards
Our team of experts have sifted through hundreds of gas rewards cards to help you maximize your potential earnings on everyday purchases. For a list of detailed criteria and more detail on our review scores, see our ratings process for gas credit cards.
Number of Gas rewards credit card analyzed: 390
Criteria used: Rewards rate, supplemental rewards categories, integration with loyalty programs, redemption options, redemption flexibility, sign-up bonus, other benefits, customer service, credit needed, rates and fees, ease of application.
How do gas credit cards work?
Gas credit cards offer special rewards for purchases on gas; they can be categorized as either rewards cards or rebate cards. The best gas rewards cards offer cash back (usually 1-3%) or points on gas, as well as on purchases in other categories. Gas rebate cards offer cents off for every gallon of gas purchased.
Gas cards fall into one of three buckets:
- General cash back cards with rewards on gas purchases.
- Gas rebate cards that are co-branded with a retailer like BP and networks like Visa or Mastercard.
- Gas rebate cards that are specific to one retailer like Shell or Chevron and not within a network.
The key to maximizing your savings is to find the card that most closely aligns with your spending habits. As a rule of thumb, gas rebate cards are best for people who are brand-loyal. If you buy gas at many different retailers, a gas rewards card is usually the better choice.
Purchasing gas with general rewards cards
Most cash back and rewards credit cards offer incentives for spending on gas, but also offer rewards on other types of purchases. For this reason, top cashback cards like the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express are among some of the best gas and grocery credit cards.
Who should get a general rewards card?
General cash back and rewards cards are a great tool for simplifying and magnifying your savings. Use these and you won’t have to worry about leaving savings at the pump or in line at the grocery store. If you often find yourself making purchases with a variety of merchants, this is a good option.
When a general rewards card isn’t the best choice
If you are looking for a way to boost your rewards with a specific gas retailer, then a branded card may be best, particularly when gas prices are low.
Purchasing gas with gas rebate cards
Branded gas cards like the Shell Fuel Rewards Card and BP Visa Credit Card are usually rebate cards. With these, you’ll save anywhere from 5 cents to 30 cents per gallon of gas you buy at that particular retailer.
Who should get a gas rebate card?
Essentially, with a branded gas rebate card, you can expect some decent savings on on-brand gas purchases, but negligible awards on most other things. Also, if the card is in a network, such as Visa or Mastercard, it can be used at more merchants. Finally, gas cards often accept fair credit, so this might be a good choice for you if you are trying to build credit.
When a gas rebate card isn’t the best choice
Rebates usually expire after 12 months, so it’s difficult to accrue enough rewards to redeem them for a large amount of “free” gas. Also, gas credit cards in a network offer extra rewards, but still might exclude purchases at other gas retailers.
How much can you save with a gas credit card?
You can take advantage of gas cards with introductory rebate offers to experience significant savings, especially in the first couple of months. Let’s examine a real example to find out how much money you can potentially save.
The daily commute
Let’s say you travel 25 miles a day to work 5 days a week and 100 miles on the weekends, which means you travel 225 miles a week or 11,700 miles a year. The average cost of gas in the U.S. on May 15, 2020, according to AAA, is $1.87, and if you are driving a 2017 Jeep Wrangler with an EPA combined city/highway fuel efficiency of 18 mpg, you will spend $3.07 on gas a day or about $22 for the week.
If you were to pay for gas without the use of a gas card, you’d spend $1,120 on fuel for the year. With the use of a Drive Savvy Rewards Credit Card from gas retailer 76, you can take advantage of rewards throughout the first year:
- Earn 50 cents per gallon the first 30 days –that’s $26.78 the first month.
- Earn 10 cents per gallon from day 31 to day 90 –that’s $10.72 for 60 days.
- Earn 5 cents per gallon after the first 90 days – that’s $24.55 for the next 275 days.
That’s $62.05 saved for the first year.
Perhaps you’re planning your yearly trip up the Pacific Coast Highway. For the sake of this example, let’s use the following data points:
The road trip
- You’re traveling from Dana Point, CA to Leggett, CA (653 miles, according to the Travel Channel).
- You’re driving a 2017 Jeep Wrangler with an EPA combined city/highway fuel efficiency of 18 mpg.
- The average cost of gas in California is $2.78 per gallon (as of Apr. 23, 2020, according to AAA).
If you were to pay for gas without the use of a gas card, you’d spend $135. 68 on fuel round-trip. With the use of a Drive Savvy Rewards Credit Card from gas retailer 76, you can take advantage of 50 cents off per gallon offer for the first 30 days. With this card, you’ll spend $99.40 in total. That’s a savings of $36.28 on one road trip alone.
The big move
With moving time upon us, this is a good time to consider getting a gas rebate card because of the front-loaded rebates the first months.
If you are moving from Miami to New York, for example, that’s 1,280 miles. Remember, in a 2017 Jeep Wrangler, you are getting 18 mph. That’s 71 gallons.
With the Exxon/Mobil Smart Card, you can earn 50 cents a gallon by applying through the Speedpass+ app and using Synergy fuel within the first 2 months, bringing you $35 in savings.
You can also plot out where you’ll get gas cross-country with the Get Upside app, which is available in Texas and parts of the East Coast, and even save further with each gallon, as well as discounts at restaurants you stop at.
How to compare and choose between two gas cards
When you’re choosing between 2 gas credit cards, there are intro bonuses, ongoing rewards and annual fees to consider. Here, we compare a gas rewards card with a gas rebate card, the Blue Cash Preferred and the BP Credit Card.
1. The price of gas
Heads up that gas rebate cards offer cents off per gallon, which can result in bigger savings when the cost of gas is low. On the other hand, when gas prices are high, a gas rewards card that offers a percentage cash back may be better. If the average cost of gas hovers around $2.20 for the rest of the year, using the BP Credit Card (5 cents off per gallon) to purchase 15 gallons of gas results in a savings of 75 cents. Using the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express (3% cash back at U.S. gas stations) to purchase the same amount of gas results in a savings of 99 cents.
2. Annual fee
Often, but not always, annual fees can be a signal of superior rewards. Keep in mind that extra fees eat into your rewards, so you must normally spend enough to justify them if your potential card carries fees. In the case of the Blue Cash Preferred, there’s a $95 annual fee ($0 introductory annual fee for the first year) in exchange for a welcome bonus and ongoing rewards. Meanwhile, the BP Credit Card doesn’t charge an annual fee.
3. Intro bonus
While the BP card has no sign-up bonus, it has a boosted rewards offer of 25 cents on every gallon for the first 30 days and another 5 cents on every gallon ongoing when you pay through the BPme app. Meanwhile, the Blue Cash Preferred offers a $150 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of card membership and the opportunity to earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the card within the first 6 months, up to $200 back.
Intro bonus comparison: Blue Cash Preferred vs. BP Credit Card
|Card||Blue Cash Preferred||BP Credit Card|
|Intro bonus offer||up to $350 / $3,000 in first 6 mths||25 cents * 90 gal/30 days = $22.50|
|Other||N/A||5 cents * 90 gal/30 days = $4.50|
|Total value||up to $350||$27|
4. Ongoing rewards
While the BP card rewards for fuel (5 cents on each gallon) and non-fuel gas station purchases (1% cash back at BP and Amoco), the Blue Cash Preferred rewards for much more, including 6% back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 a year, then 1%) and 3% back at U.S. gas stations and transit. As you can see, the rewards add up with the Blue Cash Preferred.
Ongoing rewards comparison: Blue Cash Preferred vs. BP Credit Card
|Card||Blue Cash Preferred||BP Credit Card|
|Gas rewards||3% * $127/mth * 12 = $45.72||5 cents * 45 gal/mth * 12 = $27|
|Other rewards||6% (U.S. supermarkets) * $500/mth * 12 = $360||1% (in-store BP and Amoco station purchases) * $22/wk * 52 = $11.44|
5. Check the interest rate
The average APR on a gas credit card is very high, 23.61%, per the 2018 CreditCards.com gas card survey. Most gas cards don’t offer a 0% introductory APR either, so if you’re planning on using one, pay off your balance every month to avoid paying interest.
6. Put it all together
As you will see, the Blue Cash Preferred offers excellent rewards the first year compared to the BP card. Even after the first year, the Blue Cash Preferred comes out ahead compared to the BP Card. In fact, we found that general-purpose gas rewards cards time and again have greater value.
Comparing Blue Cash Preferred vs. BP Credit Card
|Card||Blue Cash Preferred||BP Credit Card|
|Intro bonus||*up to $350/$3,000 spend in 6 mths||$27|
|Annual fee||$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95||$0|
|Total first-year value||$755.72||$65.44|
*Blue Cash Preferred intro bonus offer: earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of card membership and earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the card within the first 6 months, up to $200 back.