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The Best Gas Credit Cards and Why it May Not Matter

The Best Gas Credit Cards and Why it May Not Matter

Million Mile SecretsThe Best Gas Credit Cards and Why it May Not MatterMillion Mile Secrets Team

Update:   One or more card offers in this post are no longer available.  Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers. 

Gas Category Bonuses

Readers often ask what the best cards are for gas purchases.

I prefer to keep it simple and:

  • Use the Chase Freedom Visa whenever gas is in their 5% quarterly category
  • Use the Chase Ink Bold or Chase Ink Plus for most other times
Which are the Best Gas Credit Cards?
Which are the Best Gas Credit Cards?

Mostly I use whichever card for which I have to complete a minimum spending requirement.  I would much rather have a high-sign up bonus on a new card rather than earn a few extra miles and points on an existing card.  But not everyone is like me.

I also don’t think it is worth the effort of chasing after gas category bonuses if you are only going to get 1 or 2 more points per $1.  Because it usually isn’t going to add up to much.  That’s why I try to max out the Chase Freedom 5% category bonuses, but don’t worry if Emily didn’t use her Ink Bold for gas (which earns only 2 points per $1 on gas)!

For example, we spend ~$150 a month on gas or $1,800 a year.  One extra mile or point per $1 spent is only 1,800 extra points per year.  But 4 extra points per $1 (with the Chase Freedom) is 7,200 points per year.

I’m willing to give up 1,800 points to make it less stressful for Emily, but I’ll go out of my way to get the 7,200 extra points!

But you have to decide if it is worth it to YOU to chase after gas category bonuses depending on how much you spend on gas and your comfort with sorting through credit cards at the pump.

The Best Cards for Buying Gas

I like the Penfed and Chase Freedom because they both have no annual fee which means that you can keep them for a very long time and help build your credit score.

I like the Chase Ink Bold and Ink Plus because even though they earn only 2 Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on gas, you also get 5 Ultimate Rewards points for Office Supply and Telecom (Cable/Internet etc.) purchases.  So the Ink Bold and Ink Plus could be worth it even with the $95 annual fee.

In contrast, the American Express Premier Rewards Gold (which also earns 2 Membership Rewards points per $1 on gas) has higher annual fee of $175, charges a foreign transaction fee, and has category bonuses (3 points on air fare and 2 points on groceries) which aren’t as lucrative to me as the Ink Bold or Plus.

1.   Penfed Cash Rewards

The Penfed Cash Rewards card doesn’t earn me an affiliate commission, but is by far the best card for buying gas, if you like cash-back rewards.  You get 5% cash back per $1 spent on gas.  There is a $50,000 limit per year, but hopefully you spend nowhere near that amount on gas.

The card also has no-annual fee and no foreign transaction fee as well!

I don’t have this card and I likely won’t get it, because I prefer my miles and points to cash back and I prefer to not add a 17th card in my wallet.

But for those who like to maximize every dollar spent, it is hard to argue with a card which has NO annual fee and foreign transaction fee and which gets you 5% cash-back on gas!

2.   Chase Freedom

The  Chase Freedom Visa usually has gas in one or two of the quarterly categories which earn 5% cash back.

But you are limited to only $1,500 a quarter.

The Chase Freedom is a fee-free card, so it is a good Chase card to keep for a long time.  You can either redeem the points earned for cash back (5% cash back isn’t too shabby and some folks prefer cash back).  Or you can transfer the Ultimate Rewards points to the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Bold, Chase Ink Plus or the JP Morgan Select card and from there to airline or hotel partners such as Hyatt or United.

Our hotel in Paris and our flights back from India were mainly due to transferring Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt and United!

You have to activate each quarter’s category bonuses before the quarter to earn the 5X extra points.  The card has no annual fee.

3.   Chase Ink

The Chase Ink BoldChase Ink Plus earn 2 Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on gas (up to $50,000 a card member year).  We like Chase Ultimate Rewards because you can transfer their points to United, Southwest, British Airways, and Hyatt almost instantly and in a 1:1 ratio.

Emily and I both have Ink Plus and Ink Bold cards, so it is easy for us to use our existing Ink Cards for gas.  We prefer keeping it (somewhat) simple and don’t want to have a separate card for gas especially when we don’t buy a lot of gas.

We also use the Ink cards to earn 5X Ultimate Rewards points at Office Supply stores and set up automatic payments for internet and cellphones.

But the Ink Bold and Ink Plus have annual fees of $95 which is waived for the 1st year, so this may not be the best card to keep in the 2nd year ONLY for gas purchases.

If you already have a Chase Sapphire Preferred and don’t want another card with an annual fee, you could get the no-fee Ink Cash & Ink Classic and transfer Ultimate Rewards points form the Ink Cash & Classic to the Sapphire Preferred and from there to airlines and hotels.

The Best of the rest

1.   American Express Mercedes Benz Card

You earn 3 American Express Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on gas with the Mercedes Benz card (not Platinum version), as long as your total gas purchase is less than $400 per transaction.  But the card has a $95 annual fee and a low sign-up bonus, so it isn’t worth it unless you spend a LOT on gas.

2.   American Express Premier Rewards Gold

I wouldn’t go out of my way to get this card with the current 25,000 point bonus.  Instead, I’d wait for the 50,000 point offer to return.

If you already have the card, it could be worth the 2 Membership Rewards points per $1 on gas.  But you’d have to spend a LOT on gas to justify the $175 annual fee, so I wouldn’t keep this beyond the first year.

That said, you do get 15,000 bonus points for spending $30,000 in 1 calendar year, so it could be worth it if you are a Big Spender.  Or if you spend heavily on air fare which earns 3X points or groceries which earns 2X points, but not otherwise.

3.   Costco True Earnings

The business Costco True Earnings business card earns 4% cash back on gas purchases in the US (up to $7,000 a year).  But you need a paid Costco Membership (~$55), so this card is helpful only if you have a Costco membership.

On the other hand, the Penfed Platinum gets you 5% cash back on gas (up to $50,000) a month and has NO annual fee.

Bottom Line

It is tempting to chase after gas category bonuses.

But I’d make sure to use a card which doesn’t have an annual fee (like the Penfed or Chase Freedom).

If you do pay an annual fee for a card which earns a bonus for gas, do the math to see that paying an annual fee (after the sometimes free first year) makes sense for you.

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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BP gas card gives a 5% back all the time and is a fee free card. Don't have to wait on the once a year quarterly period like other cards.

Darius you should fill up your wife's car each week for her!! I bet she would absolutely love it, I know my wife does. And you can then decide how to get the most points from it.

Also, Darius your page "Gas Credit Cards" no longer exists, might want to remove mention of it and the dead link.

Author
Million Mile Secrets

@William Charles - Thanks. I've removed the link.

PenFed keeps making it harder and harder for customers, you now have to have the Plus version of the card to get 5% on gas. Fort knox credit union gives 5% on gas purchases though and no annual fee which put's it in the lead for those spending a lot more than the average $2k per annum.

Arcos are often as cheap or cheaper than Costcos in California, and they are cash only (debit card with a fee)... except when you buy Arco gift cards at the supermarket, which would also be a good use of maximizing points.

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