One of the great perks of credit cards is reward programs that pay back on our most common purchases, such as gas. But access to credit cards for people with fair credit ratings — even for gas station rewards programs — is limited.
Used right, however, gas perk credit card offers can help people with average credit ratings improve their FICO score and accelerate toward better credit options.
U.S. households spent a record amount on gas in 2013, over $2,600 per household, according to government data. The good news is the boom in domestic oil production is expected to knock that figure down below $2,000 in 2015. Despite the topsy-turvy swings in gas prices, Americans spend 3% to 4% of their income powering their cars — so every bit of savings helps.
Gas card options for average credit
Credit cards for people with fair credit ratings — somewhere between a FICO score of 630 and 689 — can be limited. But they are out there. You can find some of the best credit card offers for people with fair or average credit ratings here.
The good news is there are some offerings that don’t carry an annual fee, which can be as high as $99 a year for some fair credit gas cards. So know your credit score before you start applying for cards, since each credit card application will shave points off your credit score.
Know your credit score
Wait a minute, you don’t know your credit score? That’s an essential first step, especially if you’re being turned down for gas credit cards. Your score is calculated largely by on-time payment history and amounts owed, followed by length of credit history and kind of credit used.
Take the time to fully understand how your credit score works, so you can use a new gas credit card as a vehicle to help push your credit score higher.
You’ll find the gas cash back rates are low — usually about 1% — for people with fair credit ratings. Rewards on gas for people with higher credit ratings can be from 3% to 5%. To see how you rank, plug your credit rating into this tool to see your options.
Even for the best gas cards, these rewards can be notoriously tricky, such as offering generous gas benefits, but only during certain times of the year. Read the fine print and navigate through the cash-back terms with care, and you’ll save money and be on the road to better credit.
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