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NerdWallet’s Best Gas Cards, 2015

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NerdWallet’s Best Gas Cards, 2015

Don’t look to a Shell, Chevron or Valero credit card to relieve the pressure of ever-rising gas prices. You can get the same rewards rate or better, without the hassles and limitations, with a great gas credit card.

The Nerds have crunched the numbers and compared more than 45 gas cards to find you the best deals for ongoing rates and signup bonuses. We’ll also give you the details behind the numbers, because these cards are notoriously tricky. Read on for NerdWallet’s take on the top cards’ rewards programs, bonuses, fees, perks and drawbacks.

NerdWallet’s Top Gas Credit Cards:

Chase Freedom®

Chase Freedom Credit Card
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on Chase's
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Historically, the Chase Freedom® has offered 5% cash back on gas for 2 of the 4 quarters of the year, as part of its rotating bonus category series. Every quarter, you’re given a set of bonus areas in which you earn 5% back up to $1,500 spent that quarter, plus an unlimited 1% back elsewhere.

Here’s the bonus category list for 2015:

  • Q1 (January 1 – March 31): Grocery stores, movie theaters and Starbucks stores
  • Q2 (April 1 – June 30): Restaurants
  • Q3 (July 1 – September 30): Gas stations
  • Q4 (October 1 – December 31): Amazon.com

Unlike with the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card (see below), you don’t need to pay to join a credit union, and it comes with a signup bonus: Earn a $100 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

American Express Blue Cash Preferred Credit Card
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on American Express's
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The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express blows most gas cards away: It’s as simple as it is generous. It earns an unlimited 3% cash back on gas pumped anywhere in the United States, as well as a full 6% cash back on groceries (up to $6,000 spent per year) and an unlimited 3% on select department store purchases in the United States. It has an annual fee of $75 and comes with a signup bonus: Get $150 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive $150 back in the form of a statement credit. With hard-hitting, easy-to-redeem rewards, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express definitely stands out.

The other version of the card, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express has a $0 annual fee and a signup bonus: Get $100 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive $100 back in the form of a statement credit. It also has ongoing rewards of 3% on groceries (up to $6,000 annually) and 2% on U.S. gas and select department stores, as well as 1% cash back on all other purchases.

Typically, we think the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express  is worthwhile because of its higher signup bonus and killer ongoing rewards rate. Keep in mind that not all merchants take American Express, so you might want to carry a no-fee Visa or MasterCard as a backup.

PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card

Pentagon Federal Credit Union Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card
Apply Now

on Pentagon Federal Credit Union's
secure website

The PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card card offers one of the best gas rewards rates out there: 5 points per $1 spent at the pump. It doesn’t have a signup bonus, but the annual fee is $0.

There are two significant downsides. PenFed has some pretty strict lending standards — which means you need excellent credit to qualify. Also, we’ve heard that PenFed Points are difficult to redeem at full value. (Note: PenFed is a credit union, which means you will need to make a small, one-time donation to Voices for America’s Troops or the National Military Family Association to join.)

  • Gas rewards: 5 points per $1
  • Additional rewards: 3 points per $1 on groceries, 1 point per $1 spent on everything else
  • Rewards cap: None
  • The annual fee is $0
  • Signup bonus: None

Gas credit cards with greater than 1% rewards at the pump

Credit Card Gas Reward Bonus Rate Dollars of Gas Spend That Qualify
Top pick for fuel and food Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express  3% No limit
Top pick if you have super-excellent credit PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card  5% No limit
PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards Visa® Card 3%, 5% with Plus account (obtained with use of a qualifying PenFed product) No limit
Top pick for no-fee cards Chase Freedom®  5% during qualifying quarterly bonus periods $1,500 in bonus spending/quarter, two qualifying quarters
Discover it®-New! Double Cash Back your first year 5% during qualifying quarterly bonus period $1,500 in bonus spending/quarter, one qualifying quarter
U.S. Bank Business Edge™ Platinum 3% No limit
Ink Cash® Business Credit Card 2% 2% on qualifying spending (gas and restaurants) of up to $25,000 per account year
Top pick if you fill up at Costco BankAmericard Cash Rewards™ credit card 3% $1,500 per quarter limit on gas and groceries
Gulf 3% at Gulf No limit
Chevron and Texaco Credit Card 2.71%-5.42** at Chevron Requires that you spend $300/mo to earn $0.10 off per gallon, $1,000/mo to earn $0.20. Overall rewards capped at $300/yr.
Top pick for overall rewards Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card  2% No limit. Earns 2% on all purchases.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express 2% No limit
Discover it® for Students-New! Good Grades Rewards 5% during qualifying quarterly bonus period $1,500 in bonus spending/quarter, one qualifying quarter
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card 1.5% No limit
Shell Platinum MasterCard ∼1.5% at Shell Per-gallon discount on up to 100 gallons a month. Get 2% rewards with $500 spent and 100 gal purchased, otherwise far less.
Citi® Hilton HHonorsTM Visa Signature® Card 1.5%* No limit

*Based on our valuation of HHonors Points at 0.5 cents each

**Based on gas price of $3.69 per gallon

It’s not just about the rewards rate

The Costco Factor

  • Costco has cheap gasoline, but most gas card programs exclude wholesalers from their 2%-5% gas category reward rates, somewhere in the fine print.

Cheap Gas Stations, like ARCO

  • Gas stations such as ARCO in California often charge about 5%+ less than other gas stations, but only if you pay in cash. They accept debit cards at a surcharge. You should not pump with a 5% card at Shell if you are just as happy with ARCO gas which costs ~9% less.

Diesel, Airplane Fuel, Marine Fuel and Huge Gas Tanks

  • Many cards, such as the Shell card, only pay bonus gas reward rates for gasoline, not diesel fuel.
  • Many cards don’t pay bonus gas reward rates for airplane or boat fuel.
  • Many cards have restrictions on the maximum number of gallons you can pump each time or the maximum you can spend each time. Make sure to check the fine print first!
  • http://turbulencex.org/ Nicholas Littlejohn

    An electric car will save you the most here with its $7500.00 tax credit and low lease rates.

  • Brian Meola

    Hey stupid! The original comment said 30¢ to $1!

  • Alan Steinborn

    Thanks