In the world of rewards credit cards, gas cards tend to get lost in the crowd.
While they aren’t as flashy or sought after as travel or cash back rewards, gas rewards have the potential to save consumers considerable money, especially with some experts predicting gas price to hit $4 a gallon by the summer.
Rewards cards aren’t for everyone, only people with excellent credit and pay for their purchases in full each month should consider these cards. If you don’t fall into this category, you will derive greater benefit by focusing on improving your credit and/or lowering the cost of your debt.
However, if you fit the excellent credit bill, you must determine whether or not gas is one of your main expenses. If, for example, you work from home, a gas credit card is unlikely to provide significant savings. But if you have a long commute or travel via car for business, then a gas credit card could prove quite helpful.
Picking the right gas credit card for your lifestyle is crucial to reaping the most in rewards-- maximizing your gas rewards could save you as much as $250 a year, based on the expected rise in prices and U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics for average American gas expenditures. The first step in doing so is figuring out whether you want a card tied to a particular station, or one that allows more flexible use. In choosing, you must essentially navigate a savings-to-convenience continuum.
Gas credit cards tied to particular gas stations provide rewards on gas purchased at these chains as well as on non-gas products bought anywhere Visa or MasterCard is accepted. They typically provide relatively high rebates, yet they inhibit consumer flexibility. Therefore, if you typically fill up at the same place, a gas credit card tied to that station is a sensible choice. However, if your geographic location or travel plans necessitate frequenting different chains, then you must decide if the savings are worth the accompanying inconvenience.
Many cash back rewards credit cards provide added savings on gas purchases as well. These products are far more versatile than the aforementioned gas credit cards because rewards can be earned at any gas station across the country. Still, there is a drawback to this advantage: these rewards are generally less lucrative than those provided by chain-specific gas credit cards. Nonetheless, such cards stand to provide significant financial benefit to their holders.
Some of the best products in this category are the Capital One® No Hassle Cash Rewards , which offers 2% cash back on gas and 1% on all other purchases and the TrueEarnings® Card from Costco and American Express , which provides 3% cash back on gas purchases up to $3,000 and 1% thereafter, 3% on restaurant spending, 2% on travel and 1% on everything else (Costco membership is required).
There are ultimately myriad choices for the consumer interested in opening a gas rewards card. You must simply make a decision that balances savings and lifestyle considerations. It is important to note, however, that most people do not open such credit cards as their sole spending vehicle. They are often used for supplementary purposes and can be broken out only when you hit the pump. With the current gas climate in mind, that might not be a bad idea.
This article was written by Odysseas Papadimitriou, CEO and founder of CardHub.com, a marketplace for credit card offers and gift card exchange.