Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.
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What Makes a Good Gas Credit Card

Gas prices are expected to reach record highs this summer which means filling up the tank could get pretty painful. You may consider offsetting the high cost of gas by getting a credit card that rewards your for gas purchases. Good idea. There are many gas rewards cards out there, but not all of them are great deals. And a few even cost you more than they reward you, so choose carefully.

More back on gas purchases – at the stations where you pump gas. Some gas cards pay rewards, but only on certain brands of gas. That’s fine if that’s the brand of gas you typically buy. It’s not such a good deal, though, if you have to drive across town (using more gas) to fill up somewhere that not on your normal commute.

Rewards on other purchase, too. A good gas rewards card will let you earn rewards on purchases other than gas, even if the rewards are paid at a lower rate. It might take you longer to accumulate rewards on non-gas purchases, but at least you’re earning something.

Low or no annual fee. The lower the annual fee, the better. And of course, the ideal annual fee is $0. If your gas card comes with an annual fee, then you’ll have to out earn the annual fee to make the card worth it. Reward limitations may make this impossible, so be sure to read the fine print.

Generous spending limits. Many gas rewards cards limit the amount of rewards you can earn on gas purchases. Choose a card with a limit that you won’t easily exceed each month, like $200 or $300. And, hopefully the card still rewards you after you’ve reached the limit even if it’s at a lower rate. Remember that you’re looking for a card to help offset the cost of rewards. It’s ok if you don’t find something that will pay the maximum rewards on every dollar of gas you purchase.

Attractive rewards. Cash back is arguably the best reward of all. It’s universal. You can deposit the cash into your checking account and use the money to purchase gas. Statement credit or rebates are also good because they reduce your balance allowing you to ultimately pay less toward your charges. Miles and points are good rewards, but they don’t necessarily help you offset the cost of gas, which is why you’re looking for a rewards card.

Spending bonus. A spending bonus is a nice-to-have, not necessarily a requirement. In the past several months, more credit cards have offered spending bonuses for cardholders who charge a certain amount within a certain amount of time. It’s not uncommon these days to find a card that will give you a bonus for using your credit card. Be careful that you don’t spend more than you can handle for the sake of earning a bonus reward.

Don’t necessarily look for a credit card with “gas” in the title. Some of the best cards that reward on gas purchases are just ordinary cash back credit cards with great bonuses for gas purchases.

You’ll generally need to have good credit to qualify for the best paying gas credit cards, which are typically associated with a major processing network like Visa or MasterCard. Limited purpose gas credit cards – those that can only be used at that specific gas station – are known to approve applicants who don’t have the best credit history. However, those are the credit cards that will reward you the least and cost the most.

Unless you have a 0% introductory offer, it’s best to pay your balance in full every month. That way, the finance charges won’t eat up the rewards you’ve earned.
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Monday, 19 August 2019

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