5 Things to Know About the Shell Credit Card

The card earns a discount at the pump and rebates on future fuel purchases, but restrictions and rewards expiration dates will make cardholders feel stuck in their shell.
Craig Joseph
By Craig Joseph 
Edited by Kenley Young

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The Shell Fuel Rewards credit card, issued by Citi, has no annual fee and provides an immediate discount each time you top off your tank at Shell. You can also earn fuel rebates for nonfuel purchases, but those rebates come with restrictions and an expiration date.

Even if you’re a road warrior, you should leave this card in the garage and consider a more general rewards credit card that earns a bonus at gas stations.

Here are five things to know about the Shell credit card.

1. There are two versions of the card

Like many brand-specific retail cards, the Shell Fuel Rewards credit card comes in two flavors:

  • The Shell Fuel Rewards Card: This is a "closed-loop" card, meaning it can only be used at Shell.

  • The Shell Fuel Rewards Mastercard: This is an open-loop card that can be used anywhere Mastercard is accepted.

If you apply for the Mastercard version but lack the credit history to qualify, Citi will automatically use that application to consider you for the closed-loop version.

2. It earns discounts on current and future fuel purchases

Holders of either card will receive Gold Status in the Shell Fuel Rewards program and earn an immediate discount at the pump. Nonfuel purchases earn rewards in the form of fuel rebates that are automatically applied as a statement credit each month against fuel purchases at Shell.

The rewards structure of the card includes:

  • A 5-cent discount for each gallon you purchase as a Gold Status member.

  • A 5-cent discount for each gallon you purchase as a cardholder.

  • 10% back in fuel rebates on the first $1,200 in nonfuel purchases at Shell.

  • 2% back in fuel rebates for grocery store and restaurant purchases, up to $10,000 in combined spending per calendar year (Mastercard version only).

  • 1% back in fuel rebates on all other purchases (Mastercard version only).

Discounts and fuel rebates are issued on up to 35 gallons per purchase, and fuel rebates expire 12 months after they are earned.

As of this writing, both versions of the card also come with an introductory offer, marketed as earning 30 cents back per gallon on your first five fuel purchases, up to 35 gallons, at Shell — 25 cents for being a cardholder and 5 cents for having Gold Status. But you don’t have to be a cardholder to earn Gold Status (see No. 3 below), and the card already earns 5 cents per gallon for being a cardholder, so this benefit is really worth an extra 20 cents per gallon. Even if you maximize the offer by buying exactly 35 gallons on five occasions, this offer would be worth only $35 and well below the value you should strive for with a sign-up bonus.

Citi Custom Cash® Card
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Additionally, while 10% back on nonfuel purchases at Shell is a healthy rebate, you’d have to consume a lot of Cheetos and soda to really maximize that benefit. If you qualify for the Mastercard version of the card, the 2% back on grocery and restaurant purchases sounds better. But several other $0-annual-fee credit cards earn 2% back on all purchases, not just in narrow categories, and those rewards come as true cash back and without an expiration date.

Most people will be better off with a general rewards card like the Citi Custom Cash® Card. It earns 5% cash back on up to $500 spent in your highest spend category per billing cycle, from a list of eligible options that includes gas (1% back on all other purchases). At that rate, you could earn $25 back on gas every month, or $300 per year. There's also a handsome sign-up bonus: Earn $200 cash back after you spend $1,500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® Points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.

Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Credit Card
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Or consider the Wells Fargo Autograph℠ Card, which earns an unlimited 3x rewards for every dollar spent on gas, travel, restaurants, transit and cell phone plans. Points are worth a penny each when redeemed for cash back, and those rewards don't expire as long as your card is open. It also comes with the following sign-up bonus: Earn 20,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months - that's a $200 cash redemption value.

3. You don’t need the card to earn Gold Status

You can join the Shell Fuel Rewards program for free without being a cardholder and get instant Gold Status for six months. That means anyone can earn an everyday 5-cent-per-gallon discount at the pump. You can maintain Gold Status by fueling up six times (minimum of 5 gallons per visit) at a Shell station within each subsequent three-month period; otherwise, you’ll drop to Silver Status and earn a 3-cent-per-gallon discount.

Since anyone can get that Gold Status discount, the value proposition for being a cardholder is really only a 5-cent-per-gallon discount.

4. You're locked into refueling at Shell

Becoming a Shell Fuel Rewards cardholder will force you to seek out a Shell station if you want to earn a discount at the pump or use your fuel rebates. This could be bad for your wallet in situations where another station has cheaper gas. Being tied to Shell may also prevent you from using a gas app like Upside to shop around and get the best price or discount available when you top off your tank.

5. The APR is sky-high

You won’t want to finance fuel purchases made with the Shell Fuel Rewards card. The card’s annual percentage rate is 31.24% as of the time of this writing, much higher than the average rate.

If you do need to consider financing purchases of everything including gas, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express offers a 0% intro APR for 15 months on purchases and balance transfers, and then the ongoing APR of 19.24%-29.99% Variable APR. It also earns 3% cash back on purchases at gas stations and supermarkets in the U.S. (on up to $6,000 in spending annually per category) and comes with the following welcome offer: Earn a $200 statement credit after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 6 months. Terms Apply.

To view rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, see this page.

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