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NerdWallet Launches New Gas Price Comparison Tool

June 22, 2011
Airline Credit Cards, Credit Card Basics, Credit Cards, Rewards Credit Cards, Travel Credit Cards
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With gas prices rising through the roof, every cent per gallon saved makes a difference. Just in time for the summer road trip season, we’re pleased to announce the official launch of our comprehensive gas price comparison tool to find the biggest savings in any area.

Finding the best deal on gas isn’t as simple as comparing the advertised prices. Once you’ve factored in whether the station takes your credit card, whether you’ll earn rewards and whether you’ll get a discount for paying with cash, you’ve gone well beyond a quick calculation. That’s where our gas tool comes in: we’ll take a comprehensive view of gas prices that includes rewards and discounts beyond the price you see on the sign.

Cash discounts or credit rewards?

Some gas stations advertise a price 6-12 cents per gallon less than neighboring stations, but will tack on a surcharge for paying with plastic. Others, like Costco, offer steep discounts but do not earn bonus rewards on most gas credit cards. We look beyond the station’s price signs and find the actual lowest price for your payment method. Instead of driving in circles and estimating the best price, you can definitively decide how best to save this summer.

Take Arco, whose stations are popular on the West Coast and which advertises significantly lower prices than its competitors. What initially looks like a steal quickly loses its luster: Arco only accepts cash and will levy a 45-cent surcharge for using your debit card. If you get 5% rewards on gas if you pay with your credit card, you’ll save more by paying a higher price. With the NerdWallet gas tool, you can weigh cash discounts with credit rewards in a single glance.

» MORE: 7 Ways your credit card could save you money on holiday travel

Gas and credit cards work hand in glove

Whether you’re losing out with a credit surcharge or taking advantage of 5% rewards that knock off 20 cents a gallon, your credit card is a major determinant in choosing the cheapest gas in the area. However, it is a factor often disregarded by other comparison tools that compare advertised prices even if consumers end up paying surcharges. Our gas price tool truly compares apples to apples: you don’t need to worry about an unexpected 10-cent price hike.

Similarly, how you fill up can determine which credit card is best for you. Do you take advantage of Costco’s low gas prices? The wholesaler only takes American Express. Other gas stations will accept Visa and MasterCard but reject AmEx and Discover. If a significant chunk of your budget goes towards petroleum, you should consider a credit card that will give you bonus rewards every time you fill up, whether it’s the BP credit card, which ties you to one station, or the PenFed Platinum Cashback Rewards, which gives you 5% no matter where you fill up.

Now you can guarantee that every time you fill up, your credit card will team up with your gas station to deliver the best deal possible. Simply enter your zip code and get ready for summer savings! Check out our press release here to learn more about the NerdWallet gas comparison tool.