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NerdWallet’s Best Gas Credit Cards of 2018

NerdWallet’s Best Gas Credit Cards of 2017
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Gas prices have retreated from their dizzying climb of recent years, but fuel is still a major budget category for many households. Whether you commute to work by car or enjoy weekend road trips, you may be looking for ways to reduce your pain at the pump.

You can do better than the branded gas cards offered by the Chevrons and Sunocos of the world. (Here’s why that is.) Instead, the Nerds recommend these credit cards for their stellar rewards on gas station purchases.

NerdWallet’s best gas credit cards

Best for bonus categories (tie)

Chase Freedom®

Chase Freedom®

Apply Now on Chase's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • No annual fee
    • 5% rewards on rotating categories
    • Access to Chase’s Ultimate Rewards site to earn more cash back

    Cons

    • If you value simplicity, a flat rate cash back card may be better
    • A foreign transaction fee

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 16.49% - 25.24% Variable APR
    • Cash Advance APR: 26.49%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening

    Intro APR

    • 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months
  • Additional Information
    • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
    • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
    • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter
    • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - it's automatic
    • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 16.49-25.24%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
    • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open and there is no minimum to redeem for cash back.
    • Free credit score, updated weekly with Credit Journey℠
    • No annual fee

Annual fee of $0. Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in spending in quarterly rotating bonus categories and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. Introductory APR: 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 15 months, and then the ongoing APR of 16.49% - 25.24% Variable APR. 3% foreign transaction fee.

Benefits of the Chase Freedom®:

  • Rotating bonus categories in recent years have included gas stations, restaurants, select grocery stores and wholesale clubs.
  • During the months when gas station purchases receive a 5% bonus (the first quarter in both 2016 and 2017, the third quarter in 2015), the bonus isn’t just limited to the gas pump. So go ahead and get a soda and a bag of chips in the mini mart.
  • There’s a great sign-up bonus: Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening.

Drawbacks of the Chase Freedom®:

  • The Chase Freedom® used to be an even better card for people who buy a lot of gas. In the past, gas was a bonus category in two different quarters each year. Recently, it’s been reduced to one quarter. Still a great deal, but for half as much time as before.
  • Forgot to activate your bonus category? You won’t get that 5% cash back — just the standard 1% you’re getting on everything else.
  • Because of the foreign transaction fee, we’d suggest leaving this card at home the next time you travel outside the U.S.

Bottom line:

The Chase Freedom® is one of our favorite cards. If you don’t mind keeping track of changing bonus categories, it can be a solid way to earn cash back on common everyday purchases, including gas. For best results, though, we’d suggest coupling it with the Discover it® Balance Transfer. That way, you might earn that juicy 5% cash back during two quarters each year.

Best for bonus categories (tie)

Discover it® Balance Transfer

Discover it® Balance Transfer

Apply Now on Discover's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • Bonus cash back categories
    • No annual fee
    • 0% on Purchases for 6 months and 0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months
    • No foreign transaction fee

    Cons

    • Slightly less merchant acceptance for Discover in US - acceptance outside of US can be an issue
    • If you value simplicity, a flat rate cash back card may be better

    Annual Fees

    $0

    APR

    • APR: 13.49% - 24.49% Variable APR
    • Cash Advance APR: 26.49%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

    Intro APR

    • 0% on Purchases for 6 months and 0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months
  • Additional Information
    • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
    • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
    • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
    • 100% U.S. based customer service.
    • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
    • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
    • No annual fee.
    • View Rates and Fees

Annual fee of $0. Earn 5% back on rotating bonus categories, up to $1,500 in spending, and 1% back on all other purchases. Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically. Introductory APR of 0% on Purchases for 6 months and 0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.49% - 24.49% Variable APR. No foreign transaction fees.

Benefits of the Discover it® Balance Transfer:

  • Like the Chase Freedom®, you’ll earn the princely sum of 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories — which have historically included gas in the first quarter. (Current bonus categories are here.)
  • In your first year of membership, you’ll actually be earning 10% back on bonus category purchases because Discover doubles your rewards for 12 months after you become a cardholder. Getting 10% back on gas for a year could significantly reduce your commuting costs.
  • If you want to transfer debt from another card, the Discover it® Balance Transfer has a nice long introductory APR period: 0% on Purchases for 6 months and 0% on Balance Transfers for 18 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.49% - 24.49% Variable APR.

Drawbacks of the Discover it® Balance Transfer:

  • There are no foreign transaction fees, but it can be hard to find a merchant who accepts Discover in some international destinations.
  • Again, you have to keep track of the bonus categories and activate them each quarter.

Bottom line:

Another NerdWallet favorite, the Discover it® Balance Transfer is a great card for people who want to maximize their cash back and don’t mind changing bonus categories every three months. The doubled cash back in the first year makes this card hard to top. If you really want to reduce your fuel spending, pair this with the Chase Freedom® so you can have two quarters per year earning higher rewards on gas.

Best for cash back

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Apply Now on American Express's secure site
  • Recommended Credit Score
  • 690
    850
    Good - Excellent
  • Card Details
  • Pros

    • Leading cash-back rewards at U.S. supermarkets
    • Bonus offer for new cardholders
    • 0% APR period

    Cons

    • Has annual fee — but if you spend more than $31 per week at U.S. supermarkets, the rewards offset the fee
    • American Express isn’t accepted at as many merchants as Visa or Mastercard
    • $25 minimum redemption

    Annual Fees

    $95

    APR

    • APR: 14.74% - 25.74% Variable APR
    • Penalty APR: 29.99%, Variable
    • Cash Advance APR: 26.99%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. Terms Apply.

    Intro APR

    • 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months
  • Additional Information
    • $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
    • 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%) - that means spending $60 a week at U.S. supermarkets could earn over $180 back per year.
    • 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores, 1% back on other purchases.
    • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable rate, currently 14.74% to 25.74%.
    • Over 1.5 million more places in the U.S. started accepting American Express® Cards in 2017.
    • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be easily redeemed for statement credits, gift cards, and merchandise.
    • $95 annual fee.
    • Terms Apply.

The annual fee is $95. Earn 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores, 6% back on up to $6,000 worth of U.S. supermarket purchases per year, and 1% back on all other purchases. 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of 14.74% - 25.74% Variable APR. $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months. Terms Apply.

Benefits of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express:

  • Earning 3% back on U.S. gas station purchases year round is pretty hard to beat.
  • You won’t have to keep track of rotating bonus categories.
  • You’ll also get 6% back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 in spending a year. That’s $500 per month in spending — enough for most smaller households.

Drawbacks of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express:

  • The card’s high annual fee is not ideal for some people. If you prefer a card with a $0 annual fee, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express has lower rewards at U.S. supermarkets (3% on up to $6,000 in purchases the first year, then 1%) and U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores (2%).
  • Larger families will likely hit the spending cap on supermarket rewards. After that, they’ll only earn 1%.
  • American Express isn’t as widely accepted as Visa or MasterCard, so if you like to carry only one credit card, this probably isn’t your best bet.

Bottom line:

This card’s rewards structure is unusually generous to people who spend a lot on gas. We especially like that there’s no cap on the spending eligible for the 3% rewards, so even if you’re a salesperson with a multi-state territory or if you’re dating someone in the next time zone, you’ll be able to fill your tank all year long without getting bumped down to a lower rewards rate. If you drive a lot, the annual fee may be worth it. If not, consider the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express or one of the bonus category cards instead

Last updated Jan. 1, 2018.

Virginia C. McGuire is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: virginia@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @vcmcguire.