The Best Gas Reward Credit Cards
The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas nationwide went from $3.25 on Jan. 1 to $3.42 on Feb. 1 to $3.69 on March 1 to $3.89 on April 1.
The American Automobile Association has dispelled the forecasts that the national average will reach $5 a gallon by the summer, as some Chicken Littles have predicted, but $4 a gallon is a very real possibility, with prices already well over that in much of the Northeast, Midwest and in California, Alaska and Hawaii.
Historically, $4 a gallon gasoline causes people to drive less. They cancel driving vacations, carpool and cycle more and become smarter about running errands. That happened as recently as the summer of 2008, when the average price for unleaded regular nationwide peaked at $4.12 a gallon before it plummeted to $1.61 by Christmas of that year. But with East Coast refineries shutting down and unrest in Iran and the Middle East, no one is predicting that gasoline will be cheap again – at least not anytime soon.
Consumers are looking for relief and while you have no control over the price at the pump, you do have some control over what you ultimately pay. Consider applying for one of the better credit cards that give you money back when you buy gasoline.
Chase Freedom Visa
This isn’t just an excellent gas rewards credit card. It is widely considered the best all-around rewards card. It offers an average 3 percent discount on gas – 5 percent during the first and third quarters and 1 percent during the second and fourth quarters – and it gives users 5 percent cash back on other things, such as travel, groceries and Amazon.com, which change quarterly. If that weren’t good enough, the Chase Freedom Visa charges no annual fee and offers a $200 signup bonus.
It’s hard to find a downside to this card, but the rotating categories bother some cardholders who would rather have a smaller discount that does not change each quarter. They also say it can be difficult to keep up with what size discount is offered in a given quarter which just goes to show you that you can’t please everyone.
Pentagon Federal Platinum Rewards Visa
The Pentagon Federal Platinum Rewards Visa is another excellent rewards card and arguably the best of the gas reward cards. This card gives you 5 percent back on gas all the time and a $250 signup bonus. It charges no annual fee and offers a good balance transfer promotion – but only for those with outstanding credit scores.
If there is a downside to this card, it is that it offers rewards for gas only, not for groceries, travel and entertainment, as many other rewards cards do. And although there is no annual fee, to get a card, you must make a $15 donation to Voices for America’s Troops or to the National Military Family Association. Again, it’s hard to complain too loudly about that.
American Express Blue Cash Preferred
Like other cards mentioned here, the pros far outweigh the cons with the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card. This card offers an unlimited 3 percent cash back on gas, 6 percent on groceries, 3 percent on department store spending and 1 percent elsewhere. If that weren’t good enough, you can get a $150 signup bonus. Like most American Express cards, there is an annual fee, but if you don’t want to pay it, you can get an identical card that offers 3 percent cash back on groceries, 2 percent on gas and department stores and 1 percent elsewhere. With that card, you get a signup bonus of $100.
The downside to the American Express Blue Cash Preferred card is the $75 annual fee, but the signup bonus cancels that out for the first two years. After that, if you use 20 gallons of gasoline a week and you pay $4 a gallon for it, it would take you 33 weeks to neutralize the annual fee, but that is a bit unfair because that doesn’t take into account the cash back you would receive for groceries and other purchases.
Other good gas reward cards include a joint American Express-Costco card, which offers 3-percent cash back for the first $3,000 spent on gas and no annual fee if you pay your Costco membership fee. And the Discover Open Road card gives users 2-percent off on gas and restaurant purchases.
Remember that credit card companies change their offers often, so check their websites. Here are some websites that track credit card promotions: DailyMarkets.com, CardHub.com, CreditCardForum.com and NerdWallet.com.
Gas prices very well may have risen since this story was written, so for the latest prices nationally and where you live, go to GasBuddy.com or other sites that track the price of gas.
If you are in the market for a credit card that rewards you for your gas purchases, check out the credit cards discussed above. They can help you take some of the sting out of rising gas prices.