For many, having a car and driving is a necessity. Whether it’s to get to work or school, run errands or have fun, it’s a given that keeping gas in their car is part of their everyday lives.
The average U.S. motorist drives about 13,000 miles every year, and it’s difficult to plan and predict how much you’ll spend on gas, because miles driven and the price of fueling up fluctuates so much.
Unfortunately, 2017 forecasts call for the highest prices of gasoline since 2014 after steady price drops. The average cost for regular, unleaded gas is expected to spike to $2.49 per gallon this year, up from $2.13 in 2016, USA Today Network says.
With gas prices trending upward, the cost of gas can consume a good portion of your monthly budget. Credit cards, however, can help you through cash-back and rewards programs on gasoline purchases.
You can make the most of credit cards by reviewing the offers and picking the one that provides you with the highest return for your spending. We’ve rounded up our top picks for 2017, but first, here’s a closer look at why you will want to save on gas this year, in particular.
Gas price predictions for 2017
According to analysts, drivers in the U.S. are expected to spend $354.6 billion on gasoline this year, a significant increase from the $302.5 billion they spent in 2016.
In January, the average price for regular, unleaded gas was $2.347 per gallon, up from $1.992 per gallon rate a year ago. The price is projected to go as high as $2.67 per gallon in May. These price increases are attributed in large part to many of the world’s petroleum producers cutting production since November.
This unfortunately trickles down to affect your and every motorist’s wallet. It may mean you have to cut spending in other areas.
One way to lessen the effect is to use credit cards that offer cash back, rebates and other perks for your gasoline purchases.
What to consider when choosing a gas credit card
This is the primary incentive that credit card companies offer you for regularly using their card when you buy gas, such as 3% cash back on gas purchases. Higher rewards mean you get more money back in the long run.
Annual percentage rate (APR)
This is the rate you pay on top of any balance you may have left unpaid each month. Rates that are too high could end up offsetting any rewards or benefits you may get from using the card.
Some credit cards charge an annual fee while others don’t, so you’ll want to pick a card that nets you more rewards and earnings than what you’re paying for the card every year.
Some cards impose a cap on the amount of rewards you can get over a year or a quarter. Check your average gas spending and see whether you’ll end up reaching those limits. If you think you will, go for a card that sets higher limits or doesn’t have any caps. Alternatively, you can use more than one card so you don’t go over the rewards cap no matter how much you refill your tank.
To be more competitive, some companies offer benefits on top of the usual rewards. Here are a few to look for:
- Credit card companies may partner with certain brands and then offer cash-back rewards when you make purchases from them. You might find a card is more beneficial to you depending on where you shop or buy your groceries.
- Sign-up bonuses, as the name suggests, are rewards you get immediately for signing up for the credit card. They give you more value for your card even before you’ve made your first gas purchase.
- Some cards offer matching programs in which they double your cash back after a certain period.
- Other cards offer such perks as cash back at different percentages in multiple categories.
Some credit cards offer additional perks and advantages to their customers such as:
- Insurance coverage with significantly lower annual fees than most insurance companies
- Free credit score monitoring
- Exclusive access to travel discounts, product sales, etc.
Here’s a look at our picks for the best gas credit card options out there now.
Best gas credit cards
- You get 3% back on gas purchases all year (with no limit specified)
- No rotating rewards and no enrollment requirements mean the card is convenient to manage
- You can get up to 6% back on supermarket purchases each year, with a cap of $500 in rewards per month.
- You get 1% cash back on all other purchases
- It offers perks for signing up such as 0% APR for 12 months, $150 back after spending $1,000 on the card in the first three months, and 10% back on restaurant purchases for the first six months (up to $200) if you sign up by May 13, 2017
- $95 annual fee
- Rewards are given as statement credits, so while they can help to offset your purchases on the card, they can’t be cashed out
Think of this as the economical version of its Preferred counterpart. With no annual fee, you get to enjoy rewards, albeit at lower values. This card caters to those who are working with tighter budgets.
- No annual fee and 0% APR for the first 12 months
- No rotating reward categories and no enrollment
- 3% cash back on groceries (up to $6,000 per year)
- 2% cash back at gas stations and select department stores
- 1% cash back on all other purchases
- $150 back after spending $1,000 on the card in the first three months, and 10% back on restaurant purchases for the first six months (up to $200) if you sign up by May 13, 2017
- Lower grocery store reward rates than the Preferred card
- Rewards are given as statement credits on this card as well, which means they can help offset your purchases on the card, but they can’t be cashed out and used elsewhere
With no annual fee, Chase Freedom offers bonuses such as up to $1,500 cash back per quarter on rotating categories, including supermarkets, wholesale clubs, restaurants and gas stations.
- Offers one of the best selections of rewards
- No annual fee
- Signup bonus of $150 back after your first $500 spent in purchases
- Cash back can be redeemed by direct deposit of the amount into your checking or savings account (once $20 is earned), by converting them into points and spending them on other purchases or as a statement credit
- You’ll need to plan your purchases properly to maximize rewards from the rotating categories
- You need to activate your bonus category to get the 5% back
- Not ideal for travel because of the high foreign transaction fee
- You can only save on gas when it is chosen as the quarterly reward
- Your cash back is limited to $1,500 per quarter
Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card
If you’re spending a lot on gas, the Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card keeps you covered with no rewards limit. There is also no annual fee and it offers you more time to pay back your purchases at 0% APR for 15 months.
- No limits on the points you can earn
- Earn three times more points at gas stations
- Earn two times more points at restaurants
- And earn one time points on all other purchases
- Points can be converted into cash back (100 points equals $1) and can be redeemed when $25 is reached
- It gives the option for paper checks to be sent or account credits for Wells Fargo customers
- Points can also be redeemed by shopping for other rewards
- Get more time to pay back your purchases with a 0% APR for 15 months
- No annual fee
- Exclusive deals on airline tickets, cruises, car rentals and hotels
- Exclusive benefits to those who hold qualified Wells Fargo accounts
- You have to use your points within five years or you lose them
- Only direct deposits into Wells Fargo accounts are allowed
- The 10% annual rewards bonus is only available to Wells Fargo customers
Discover it Chrome offers a modest 2% cash back on restaurant and gas purchases all year long with a $1,000 cap on combined purchases each quarter. There are no revolving categories or signups needed, and it offers additional perks such as matching the first year’s earnings.
- No annual fee
- The double cash-back offer means Discover matches your first year’s cash-back earnings dollar-for-dollar and automatically awards it at the end of 12 months
- 2% cash back on restaurant and gas purchases
- 1% cash back on all other purchases
- Perks such as 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months and 0% APR on purchases for 14 months
- Cash back never expires
- Discover it may not be widely accepted among international merchants, making it less ideal for foreign purchases
- There is a $1,000 limit to the amount of cash back you can earn per quarter
This is a business credit card that offers 2% back on up to $25,000 spent per year at gas stations and restaurants You’ll also get 5% cash back up to $25,000 per year when spending on office supplies, or internet, tv and cable services. All other purchases earn 1% cash back with no limit. Also, enjoy a 0% APR introductory rate for the first 12 months.
- No annual fee
- High rewards for office supplies
- 2% cash back on gas and dining
- Great introductory offer
- Few travel benefits
- Cash back rates drop to 1% after you hit the $25,000 limit for the year.
This card offers 3% cash back and has a $2,500 bonus rewards limit. If you have a Bank of America savings or checking account, you get a 10% increase in rewards when they are deposited into your account.
- No annual fee and no expiration dates
- $100 cash bonus after spending $500 in the first 90 days
- 10% relationship bonus for those with Bank of America accounts
- Earn back 3% on gas, 2% on grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 1% on all purchases
- Low introductory rate of 0% APR for the first 12 months
- Max cash-back reward is $250 per quarter
Those who have access to Costco can get their 4% gas rewards rate while taking advantage of the low prices at Costco gas stations. You can also get cash back for restaurants, traveling and for purchases from Costco.
- Gas rewards of 4% for the first $7,000 spent each year
- 3% restaurant and travel rewards
- 2% Costco purchase rewards
- 1% general spending reward
- No annual fee
- You won’t be able to maximize this if you’re not a regular patron of Costco, because most of the bonuses are redeemable as vouchers and coupons
Review and compare gas cards
With gas prices expected to go up, you’ll probably be spending more on your transportation costs this year. However, the cash back and rewards you get from gas credit cards can help you offset those expenses. To compare a wide range of options and see what others have to say about the cards, head over to our personal credit card reviews page.