NerdWallet’s Best Gas Cards, Spring 2013
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:
Pentagon Federal Platinum Rewards:
The PenFed Platinum Rewards card has more or less the best gas rewards rate in the business, with an uncapped 5 PenFed Points for every dollar spent at the pump. It has no annual fee and a none signup bonus. There are a few significant downsides. First, you need really, really, ridiculously good credit to qualify. PenFed has some pretty strict lending standards – this means you need beyond-excellent credit to qualify. Second, you get bonus rewards only on gas, so you forgo rewards earned on additional spending. Finally, 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%
- Additional rewards; None
- Rewards cap: None
- Annual fee: None
- Signup bonus: none
The Chase Freedom averages 3% year round on gas. Historically, for 2 quarters of the year you’ll get 5% gas through their rotating bonus program, and the other 2 quarters of the year you’ll get the regular 1% cash back.
Unlike the PenFed card, you don’t need to pay to join a credit union, and your base rewards rate is 1%. It also has no annual fee and includes other rotating 5% categories throughout the year. And it it comes with a $100 signup bonus.
- This offer is for people with a good to excellent credit history which means, among other things, that your credit history is clear of bankruptcy and seriously delinquent accounts
- Earn $100 Bonus Cash Back after you make $500 in purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
- 0% Intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers
- 5% Cash Back on up to $1,500 spent between Apr 1 and Jun 30, 2013 at restaurants, movie theaters, and Lowe's®
- You'll enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months like gas stations, restaurants and Amazon.com. It's free and easy to activate your bonus each quarter!
- Unlimited 1% Cash Back on all other purchases
- No annual fee and rewards never expire
- Click "APPLY NOW" to apply online or call 888-925-5605
American Express Blue Cash:
The AmEx Blue Cash blows most gas cards away: It’s as simple as it is generous. It has no annual fee, but earns an unlimited 2% cash back on gas – similar to most branded cards – as well as a full 3% cash back on groceries (up to $6k spent a year) and unlimited 2% on department store purchases. It pays out in cash, of course, pretty much the simplest form of rewards there is. And it it comes with a $100 signup bonus. With hard-hitting, easy-to-redeem rewards, the Amex Blue Cash stands out. The other version of the card, the Blue Cash Preferred, has a $75 annual fee (we think it’s worth it, given the rewards), but ups the rewards rate to 6% on groceries (up to $6k annually) and 3% on gas/department stores.
- Earn 100 Reward Dollars after you make $1,000 in purchases in the first three months of Cardmembership.
- Earn Cash Back: 3% at US supermarkets, up to $6,000 per year in purchases, 2% at US gas stations & select US dept stores, 1% on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
- Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
- Simple and Straightforward: With the Blue Cash Everyday Card, you can start earning cash back. No rotating reward categories. No enrollment required.
- No annual fee, 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months. After that, your APR will be a variable rate, currently 12.99%-21.99% with flexibility to pay over time.
- Terms and Restrictions Apply.
Gas credit cards with greater than 1% rewards at the pump
Gas Reward Bonus Rate
Dollars per Month of Gas Spend That Qualify
|Top pick, if all you want is gas rewards
PenFed Platinum Rewards
|Warning: base rewards rate is 75% lower
PenFed Platinum Cashback Rewards
(Gives 0.25% back on all purchases, not 1%)
|American Express Costco True Earnings Business||4%||$500|
|Top pick for fuel and food
Amex Blue Cash Preferred
|3%||No Limit. Also get 3% at department stores and 6% on groceries.|
|Top pick for no-fee cards
|3% average||$1,500 in bonus spending/quarter|
|Discover More||3% average||$1,500 in bonus spending/quarter|
|American Express Hilton Honors Surpass||3%**||No Limit|
|US Bank FlexPerks Business Cash Rewards||3%||No Limit|
|Citibank AT&T Universal Business Rewards||3%||No Limit, but 100,000 total point limit per year|
|American Express Hilton Honors||2.5%**||No Limit|
|Chase Ink Cash and Classic||2%||$25,000 in 2% bonus purchases/year|
|Amex Blue Cash Preferred||3%||No Limit. Also get 3% at department stores and 6% on groceries.|
|Top pick, if you fill up at Costco
American Express Costco True Earnings
|3%||$4,000 in purchases/year, 1% thereafter|
|Nationwide Business Platinum Visa||3%||No Limit|
|Bank of America Cash Rewards for Business||3%||No Limit|
|Bank Americard Cash Rewards||3%||$1,500 per quarter limit on gas and groceries|
|Gulf||3% at Gulf||No Limit|
|Chase BP Visa||≤3% at BP||Rewards limited to one fill-up and ≤20gal|
|Chevron and Texaco Credit Card||2.69%-5.28* at Chevron||Requires that you spend $300/mo to earn 2% rewards, $1,000/mo to earn 5% rewards. Overall rewards capped at $300/yr.|
|Top pick for overall rewards
Capital One Venture Rewards
|2%||No Limit. Earns 2% on all purchases.|
|Citizens Bank Accelerator Rewards Platinum||2% (10% for first 3 months)||No Limit|
|Amex Blue Cash Everyday||2%||No Limit. Also get 2% at department stores and 3% on groceries.|
|Discover Business Miles||2%||$416.67 ($5,000 per year limit on double miles for gas & travel)|
|Discover Open Road||2%||$250|
|Discover Student Open Road||2%||$250|
|Capital One No Hassle Cash Rewards||2%||No Limit|
|Citi Dividend Platinum Select||2% average||$300 in rewards/year|
|Citibank Dividend Platinum Select for College Students||2%||No Limit, but $300 total rewards limit per year.|
|MINI Platinum||2%||No Limit|
|Quicken Rewards Visa||2%||$2000 per month between Gas, Grocery, Pharmacy, Office Supply|
|American Express Premier Rewards Gold||2%||No Limit|
|United Mileage Plus||2% (Double Miles at gas stations)||No Limit|
|Fifth Third Bank Rewards||2%||$500|
|WorldPoints Business Rewards||2% (2 Points per $1 at gas stations)||No Limit|
|Cards offered via Elancard, including: Heartland Bank Platinum Business Rewards, Comerica Bank Business Rewards, Platinum Business Rewards from ENT Credit Union||2%||No Limit|
|First National Bank of Omaha Graphite AmEx||2%||None|
|First National Bank of Omaha AmEx||2%||None|
|Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard||2%||None|
|First National Bank of Omaha Discover||2%, sort of||If you spend exactly $13,750, you get 2% back on everything, if not, you get less.|
|Capital One Cash||1.5%||No Limit. Earns 1.5% back on all purchases|
|Shell Platinum MasterCard||∼1.5% at Shell||Per-gallon discount on up to 100 gal a month. Get 2% rewards with $500 spent and 100gal purchased, otherwise far less.|
|Citi Hilton Honors||1.5%**||No Limit|
*Based on gas price of $3.79 per gallon
**Based on our valuation of HHonors Points at 0.5 cents each
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.
- In fact, it’s probably safe to assume that the only way to get more than 1% rewards pumping gas at Costco is with the Costco True Earnings card, or the Costco True Earnings Business card. The fine print on these cards explicitly states that Costco qualifies for the bonus reward rate.
- Card issuers that explicitly ban Costco gas from their “gas reward rate” include American Express, and Citibank.
- Costco only accepts American Express.
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. Clearly, 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, including Shell and PenFed Platinum Cashback Rewards 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 (e.g. 75 gallons with the Amex Costco card), or with the maximum you can spend each time ($400 with the American Express Blue Cash card). Check the fine print first!