If you spend a lot of money each month filling your car with gas, it makes sense to maximize your return on those expenses. I’ve been paying closer attention to the category because we’ve been taking more road trips.
Several credit cards offer bonuses on gas purchases. It’s a smart business choice because using a card for gas means that card will always be in your wallet or purse and you’re more likely to use that card for other purchases besides when you go to fill up the tank.
Which card is the BEST? It depends on what type of reward you want to earn (cash or points), if you want to pay an annual fee and if you want an all-around card or a card that’s just for gas purchases. This is one of the instances where Your Mileage May Vary. Here are some of the cards available, with an above-average return on gas purchases.
Citi ThankYou Premier Card
The Citi ThankYou Premier card earns 3 ThankYou points for each dollar spent on gasoline. This is the best return for a personal card that earns transferrable points. That means you can take the points you earn with the Premier card and transfer them to an airline program or use them to make reservations through the Citi travel portal. This card has a $95 annual fee so you’d need to spend a lot on gas each year to earn that money back. Therefore, getting this card only makes sense if you’re going to use the card’s other bonus categories, like travel and dining, as well.
CLICK HERE to read our full review of the ThankYou Premier card.
American Express Business Gold
The American Express Business Gold card offers a great return on gasoline purchases as the card pays 4x Membership Rewards points for the top two of the following spending categories each month:
- Airfare purchased directly from airlines
- U.S. purchases for advertising in select media (online, TV, radio)
- U.S. purchases made directly from select technology providers of computer hardware, software, and cloud solutions
- U.S. purchases at gas stations
- U.S. purchases at restaurants
- U.S. purchases for shipping
If your business has large expenditures at gas stations, earning 4x points is hard to beat. CLICK HERE to read our full review of the American Express Business Gold Card.
Costco Anywhere Visa
The Costco Anywhere Visa card earns 4% back on gasoline purchases, up to the first $7,000 each year. You will earn points at gas stations AND when buying Costco Gas. Since gas purchases at wholesale clubs are typically excluded from bonus categories, earning 4% on those purchases is a huge plus, if you buy gas at Costco often.
This card has no annual fee as long as you are a Costco member. You receive the cashback once yearly as a lump sum that needs to be spent at Costco. Using this card for gas is a no-brainer if you’re a Costco loyalist. CLICK HERE to read our full review of the Costco Anywhere card.
American Express Everyday Preferred
The American Express Everyday Preferred earns 2 Membership Rewards points for gas purchases. The card also gives a 50% bonus on points earned if you use the card 30 times or more in a billing cycle giving you a return of 3 points per dollar spent on gas. Membership Rewards is American Express’s transferrable points currency and I find it easy to use them for aspirational redemptions. I used AMEX points to book the best award trip I ever planned for my dad and his wife, getting them to Bali and back in business class.
The card has a $95 annual fee but can be worthwhile because besides earning 2 points per dollar for gas, it has bonus categories for supermarket shopping and a 50% bonus on all points earned with 30 transactions. CLICK HERE to read our full review of the card.
Bank of America Cash Rewards
If you’re looking for a no requirement, no annual fee, cash back card, the Bank of America Cash Rewards card may be perfect for you. It earns 3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs and 1% cashback on other purchases. Bonus rewards are capped at $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/selected category purchases each quarter.
While the card is not exciting, you can earn $300 back each year if you only use the card for gas purchases up to $2,500 per quarter. That’s enough to purchase most round-trip economy airline tickets. You also have the flexibility to use the money however you want.
We don’t have this card since we use our cards to earn points or miles for our travel but I realize that this is the type of card some people would find extremely valuable. You can sign up for the card at the Bank of America Website.
PenFed Platinum Rewards
The Platinum Rewards card from PenFed Credit Union earns 5x points on gas purchases at the pump. It also earns 3x points on grocery purchases. It has no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
You can redeem points earned with the Platinum Rewards card for travel or gift certificates. There’s no chart available that I could find but other websites have placed redemptions for gift cards at 0.85 cents per point and travel redemptions at 1.15 cents per point. Even at a cent each, that’s a 5% return on gas purchases with a no-annual-fee card.
Since PenFed is a credit union, you have to be a member to be eligible for their credit card. They have several affinity partners such as the American Medical Association and the American Red Cross (where either donating cash or blood is enough for you to qualify as a member). Even if you can’t find another way to qualify, PenFed has links to two associations where a $17 donation will make you a member for life (and qualify you to open an account). You also have to open a PenFed savings account with a minimum $5 balance (no monthly maintenance fee). So there are some hoops to jump through to get this card but it might be worth it.
You can sign up for the card at the PenFed website.
American Express Hilton Honors Surpass
If you’re looking for a card that will earn you points in a hotel program for your gas purchases, the Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express is a great choice. It earns six Hilton Honors points per dollar for US gas purchases and purchases at US restaurants and US supermarkets. The Surpass card also earns 12 points per dollar for Hilton charges worldwide and 3 points per dollar for all other purchases.
Hilton points are only worth about 0.6 cents each. That’s a 3.6% return on your gas purchases, which isn’t the best value out there. However, if you’re a Hilton fan and get a better value for your points, this card is a good choice for you. The card has a $95 annual fee but provides complimentary Hilton gold status and a free weekend night certificate if you spend $15,000 in a calendar year.
You can sign up for the Hilton Surpass card by using our referral link.
The only thing that makes my irrational desire to get a Buc-ee’s credit card make any sense is the 10 cents per gallon you save on Buc-ee’s gas when you use the card. That’s about a 4% discount, depending on the cost of gas at the time. Since there’s no way for me to qualify for the card without us moving to Texas, I guess I’ll have to go without this card for a while longer.
If you’re eligible for the Buc-ee’s card, you can sign up at the TDECU website.
Choosing which card to use when you pull up to the gas station can be confusing. Putting a little thought into what type of reward you want to earn can make the decision easier.
- I use the Citi ThankYou Premier because I’m like to earn the max points I can for our travels.
- Sharon uses the AMEX Everyday preferred because she only wants to have one card to use everywhere and this one gives a good return on her usual expenses (gas and groceries)
- My dad uses the Costco card because he loves shopping at Costco and often fills up at the Costco gas station.
Like most things, there’s no BEST card for everyone. What’s good for someone else might be terrible for you. Make an informed decision and then watch the points or cash back start rolling in.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary