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NerdWallet’s Best Gas Credit Cards of 2017

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NerdWallet's Best Gas Cards

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 … Card
Gas bonus categories (tie) Chase Freedom®
Gas bonus categories (tie) Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer
Cash back Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Best for bonus categories (tie)

https://www.nerdwallet.com/lib/redirect.php?name=Chase-Freedom-100-Cash-Back&uv=caC%2F3a9yj%2F8Q2tFP5o6mGyfxECV%2BORJSTG9RoHdHGFIHvJkNmEt7aHYf2lu%2F27u0EbwBAthyqjEhSw%3D%3D&clickHeader_category=Credit%20Card&clickHeader_productId=3200

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: 15.49% - 24.24% Variable APR
    • Cash Advance APR: 25.49%, 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
    • 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 15.49-24.24%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
    • Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months
    • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
    • 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 15.49% - 24.24% 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® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer. That way, you might earn that juicy 5% cash back during two quarters each year.

Best for bonus categories (tie)

https://www.nerdwallet.com/lib/redirect.php?name=Discover-It-18-Month-Balance-Transfer&uv=caC%2F3a9yj%2F8Q2tFP5o6mGyfxECV%2BORJSTG9RoHdHGFIHvJkNmEt7aHYf2lu%2F27u0EbwBAthyqjEhSw%3D%3D&clickHeader_category=Credit%20Card&clickHeader_productId=6045

Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer

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: 11.49% - 23.49% Variable APR
    • Cash Advance APR: 25.49%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've 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
    • Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
    • Earn 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter like gas stations, Amazon.com, restaurants, wholesale clubs and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Plus, unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
    • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
    • 100% U.S. based customer service.
    • Get your FICO® Credit Score for free on monthly statements and online.
    • No annual fee.
    • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.

Annual fee of $0. Earn 5% back on rotating bonus categories, up to $1,500 in spending, and 1% back on all other purchases. Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've 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 11.49% - 23.49% Variable APR. No foreign transaction fees.

Benefits of the Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer:

  • 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® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer 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 11.49% - 23.49% Variable APR.

Drawbacks of the Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer:

  • 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® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer 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

https://www.nerdwallet.com/lib/redirect.php?name=American-Express-Blue-Cash-Preferred&uv=caC%2F3a9yj%2F8Q2tFP5o6mGyfxECV%2BORJSTG9RoHdHGFIHvJkNmEt7aHYf2lu%2F27u0EbwBAthyqjEhSw%3D%3D&clickHeader_category=Credit%20Card&clickHeader_productId=1114

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 for groceries at US supermarkets
    • Sign-up bonus
    • 0% APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers

    Cons

    • Has annual fee - but if you spend more than $31/week the rewards offset the fees
    • American Express isn’t accepted at as many merchants as Visa or MasterCard

    Annual Fees

    $95

    APR

    • APR: 13.74% - 23.74% Variable APR
    • Penalty APR: Up to 29.99%, Variable
    • Cash Advance APR: 25.99%, Variable

    Bonus Offers

    Limited Time Offer: Apply by 5/3/17 – Earn 10% cash back on purchases at U.S. Restaurants in the first 6 months, up to $200 back. Earn $150 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.

    Intro APR

    • 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months
  • Additional Information
    • Limited Time Offer: Apply by 5/3/17 – Earn 10% cash back on purchases at U.S. Restaurants in the first 6 months, up to $200 back.
    • Plus, earn $150 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
    • Everyday Cash Back: 6% at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%); 3% at U.S. gas stations; 1% on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
    • No rotating reward categories. No enrollment required.
    • Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit. You can only earn cash back on eligible purchases.
    • $95 Annual Fee. 0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, then a variable rate, currently 13.74% to 23.74%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors.
    • Terms Apply.

Annual fee of $95. Earn an unlimited 3% cash back on gas station purchases, 6% back on up to $6,000 worth of U.S. supermarket purchases per year, and 1% back on all other purchases. Introductory APR of 0% on Purchases and Balance Transfers for 12 months, and then the ongoing APR of 13.74% - 23.74% Variable APR. Limited Time Offer: Apply by 5/3/17 – Earn 10% cash back on purchases at U.S. Restaurants in the first 6 months, up to $200 back. Earn $150 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.

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

  • Earning an unlimited 3% back on 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:

  • Paying an annual fee of $95 is not ideal. If you prefer a card without an annual fee, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express has lower rewards at gas stations (2%) but an annual fee of $0.
  • 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 it’s unlimited, 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 January 15, 2016.

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