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For most Americans, filling up the gas tank is a common occurrence, whether it’s weekly or monthly. So, if you’re spending a significant portion of your monthly household budget on fuel, it’s important to make sure you get the best return from your credit card on your gas station purchases.
But which card is the best to use at a gas station? It depends on your needs, but we’ve put together a list of the best credit cards for gas to help you decide which one is the right choice for you.
Citi Premier® Card: Best for travel points
Citi Custom Cash℠ Card: Best for flexibility
PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card: Best for no cap
Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi: Best for cash back
Chase Freedom Flex℠: Best for cell phone protection
Discover it® Cash Back: Best for rotating categories
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: Best for hotel points
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card: Best for poor credit
All information about the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card, the Discover it® Cash Back and the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card has been collected independently by CNN. The PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card, the Discover it® Cash Back and the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card are not currently available through CNN.
Why did we pick these as our best credit cards for gas this year? Let’s dive into the details of each of these cards and see how they compare to one another.
If your main goal is to turn your gas station purchases into free travel, then the Citi Premier card is your best bet. In fact, it’s one of our favorite travel credit cards. This card earns 3 Citi ThankYou points for every dollar you spend on gas, with no cap to the number of points you can earn.
You can easily redeem ThankYou points for travel in two different ways. First, Citi has its own travel portal — similar to Expedia or Orbitz — where you can book a flight or hotel and, instead of paying cash, use your ThankYou points to pay. When you redeem this way, your points are worth 1 cent per point.
The second option is to transfer your ThankYou points to one of Citi’s 16 airline and hotel partners at a 1-to-1 ratio. It takes more time and flexibility to book this way, but you can potentially get a lot more value for your points, especially if you’re looking to fly business or first class.
There’s a learning curve when booking flights with these airline and hotel programs, and most of Citi’s airline partners are international carriers. But JetBlue is also a Citi airline partner, which makes it easy to redeem ThankYou points for travel within the U.S. on JetBlue.
The Citi Premier card is also a great choice when you’re paying for air travel, and at hotels, supermarkets and restaurants (including takeout), as you’ll earn the same 3 points per dollar in these categories as well.
You’ll also get extended warranty protection, damage and theft protection and no foreign transaction fees on the Citi Premier. But unfortunately, there’s no travel insurance coverage on the card, so you’ll be without car rental insurance, trip cancellation and interruption protection, trip delay protection or baggage delay coverage.
And even though the Citi Premier has a $95 annual fee, you’ll get an annual $100 hotel credit on reservations of $500 or more when you book through ThankYou.com as well as a $5 discount on three Lyft rides taken in a month, three free months of Door Dash’s DashPass food delivery membership and access to Mastercard Luxury Hotels and Resorts.
The Citi Custom Cash Card is one of the most flexible cards you’ll find if your spending habits change each month throughout the year. You’ll earn 5% cash back on up to $500 spent in your top eligible category each billing cycle (then 1% cash back after that). You don’t have to choose your category in advance — you’ll earn the 5% cash back automatically in whichever category you spent the most in during that billing cycle.
Fortunately, many categories fall within the 5% cash back bucket — including gas station purchases. So if you prioritize this card for gas, you can earn up to $25 cash back per billing cycle — that’s up to $300 per year. And best of all, if your spending shifts in a billing cycle or two — or you end up not driving much during a particular month — you’ll instead earn 5% cash back on different spending categories, such as restaurants, grocery stores, drugstores and more.
Rewards on the Citi Custom Cash Card are technically earned in the form of Citi ThankYou points, but you can redeem your points for a statement credit at a rate of 1 cent per point. However, if you also have the Citi Premier card, you can combine all of your ThankYou points together in one account and then redeem them for travel or transfer them to Citi’s travel partners.
The one downside of the card is that on all other purchases that don’t fall into the top eligible category, you’ll only earn 1% cash back. For those purchases, you’re better off with the Citi® Double Cash Card, which earns 2% cash back on everything you buy — 1% when you make a purchase, and another 1% when you pay it off.
For a no-annual-fee card, the Citi Custom Cash Card is a great gas credit card option, especially since new card holders also get a 0% introductory APR on both purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months. Just make sure you pay off your debt by the end of the intro period, because the APR rises to a variable 17.74% to 27.74% afterward.
Although the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature card isn’t mentioned often, it’s a top contender when it comes to gas purchases. It earns 5 points for every dollar you spend on gas — with no cap to the amount you can earn. To top it off, you’ll also earn 3 points per dollar at the supermarket (including most Target and Walmart locations), restaurants, and TV, radio and cable streaming services.
Unfortunately, there’s no option to redeem your PenFed Platinum Visa points for cash back, and PenFed doesn’t have any airline or hotel transfer partners. Instead, points can be redeemed for gift cards, merchandise and travel booked through PenFed. There’s no set redemption value, but typically, travel redemptions will give you the highest value.
The limited redemption options of the PenFed Platinum Visa is the main reason this card isn’t higher on our list. And there’s a big catch — even though the card doesn’t carry an annual fee, you must join PenFed’s credit union to be eligible for the card. But with all that said, if you’re willing to redeem your PenFed points for travel, you can typically get more than 1 cent apiece for your points, which makes the card worth considering.
One of the strongest features of the Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi is its earning rate on gas purchases. Regardless of where you fill up your tank, you’ll earn 4% cash back with this card (in addition to EV charging purchases), up to $7,000 per year (then 1% thereafter). And while Costco gas stations typically offer the best price on fuel compared to nearby locations, you aren’t limited to just these stations to earn the bonus cash back on this card.
Additionally, you’ll also earn 3% cash back at restaurants and on eligible travel purchases with the Costco Anywhere Visa, 2% cash back on all other purchases from Costco and Costco.com and 1% cash back on everything else.
Although the Costco Anywhere Visa technically doesn’t come with an annual fee, you must have a Costco membership — which starts at $60 per year — in order to get the card. So it may only be worth getting the card if you’re also a Costco shopper.
For your non-gas purchases, the Costco Anywhere Visa also provides protection for your purchases made both in and outside of Costco stores. For example, the card’s purchase protection benefit will cover you if any item you buy with the card is damaged or stolen within 120 days or purchase (90 days for New York residents), up to $10,000 per item and $50,000 annually.
The Chase Freedom Flex is unique, as it gives you the opportunity to earn bonus points on different purchases throughout the year based on its rotating bonus categories. You can earn 5% cash back in these categories, up to $1,500 in combined purchases each quarter. And while “gas stations” isn’t a category on the Freedom Flex 365 days a year, it’s often listed as a bonus category in one or two quarters, such as right now. For Q4, which means between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2022, the bonus categories include Walmart and PayPal
When gas stations is a bonus category for the quarter, you’ll be able to earn 5% cash back for the entire three months, up to the $1,500 maximum. In 2022, gas stations was listed as a category once, but the list for 2023 Chase Freedom Flex categories hasn’t yet been revealed, so we aren’t yet sure how often we’ll see it next year. Just remember that you must activate your bonus categories on the card each quarter in order to earn bonus cash back.
Aside from the rotating categories, you’ll also earn 5% cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards with the Chase Freedom Flex, 3% on dining and drugstores and 1% on all other purchases. You’ll want to pay special attention to drugstores, since you can often purchase gas gift cards — such as Shell and ExxonMobil — on the gift card carousel at the store. If those gas stations are where you typically fill up your tank, this is an easy way to indirectly get 3% cash back on your gas purchases year-round.
And although the Chase Freedom Flex card is marketed as a cash back card, if you pair it with a premium Chase Ultimate Rewards card — such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve® — you can combine all your rewards together and redeem them for travel at an increased value, or even transfer them to any of Chase’s airline and hotel partners.
But one of the best perks of this no-annual-fee credit card is its cell phone protection. If your phone is lost or damaged, you’ll be covered for up to $800 per claim with a $50 deductible. You can file up to two claims in each 12-month period, with a maximum reimbursement of $1,000 during that time.
Similar to the Chase Freedom Flex, the Discover it Cash Back also offers rotating bonus categories, and for the 2022 calendar year, gas stations show up in the second quarter. This means during the months of April, May and June, this card earns 5% cash back on gas station purchases, up to $1,500 total spend per quarter (Target is the other category bonus for Q2).
During other quarters, category bonuses include grocery stores, fitness clubs and gym membership, restaurants, PayPal, Amazon.com and digital wallets. You just have to activate the bonus categories each quarter before you start making purchases in order to earn the bonus cash back.
Additionally, new Discover it Cash Back card holders also get a match of all the cash back they’ve earned at the end of their first year with the card. This means you can effectively earn up to $150 cash back per quarter solely from the rotating bonus categories in your first 12 months having the card.
And, if you’re tight on cash, the Discover it Cash Back card also comes with an introductory 0% APR on all purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months after opening the account (then a variable 15.74% to 26.74% APR afterward). However, the card doesn’t come with purchase protection or extended warranty benefits, so while you have the opportunity to pay off your purchases over time, they won’t be protected.
When it comes to earning hotel points, the Hilton Honors Amex Surpass Card earns more points on gas station purchases than any other hotel credit card. With this card, you’ll earn 6 points for every dollar you spend at U.S. gas stations. Frequent flyer website The Points Guy values Hilton Honors points at 0.6 cents apiece, which means you’re getting a 3.6% return every time you fill up your gas tank.
The Hilton Amex Surpass, which has a $95 annual fee, also earns 12 points per dollar at Hilton hotels, 6 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants and U.S. supermarkets and 3 points per dollar on all other purchases. You’ll also get automatic Hilton Gold elite status, 10 free visits yearly to Priority Pass airport lounges worldwide and no foreign transaction fees. Gold status is Hilton’s mid-tier status level and extends complimentary breakfast or a food and beverage credit — depending on the Hilton location — along with space-available room upgrades, bonus points on paid stays and your fifth night free when using points to book a room.
However, the Hilton Amex Surpass card probably only makes sense for you if you’re looking to stay at hotels under the Hilton umbrella, which includes brands such as Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, Hilton Hotels and Resorts, DoubleTree, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn, Homewood Suites and others. But with more than 6,000 properties worldwide, it shouldn’t be hard to find a great Hilton property for your next vacation.
Learn more about the Hilton Honors Amex Surpass card.
Although the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card offers slightly less cash back for gas station purchases than some other cards on the list, it’s a great option if you’re working on building your credit and looking to earn cash back at the same time.
This is a secured credit card, which means you’ll need to put up cash of your own as a deposit in order to get it — the minimum deposit is $300 and the maximum is $4,900. However, Bank of America will periodically review your account and, based on your overall credit history, you may qualify to have your security deposit returned down the line (though not all customers will qualify).
With the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Secured card, you’ll earn 3% cash back on one category of your choice, and 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, up to $2,500 in purchases in the combined 3% and 2% categories each quarter. The available 3% categories include gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drugstores or home improvement and furnishings. You must choose your category in advance, but you’re allowed to change it each month, so if you happen to be driving minimally during a certain period of time, you can always reap the 3% cash back on a different category.
If you’re looking for a no-annual-fee secured credit card to help build your credit, then this card is a great option.
If you’re often on the road — for a long-distance commute, road trips or just everyday life — and find yourself at the pump often, a gas credit card should have a slot in your wallet. The rewards you can earn with a gas credit card will help you offset the increasing cost of oil and make filling your tank slightly more palatable. But since there are so many to chose from, you’ll want to pick one that works best for your situation.
For those looking for a travel credit card with the highest return on gas purchases, the Citi Premier is your best bet. The Points Guy values Citi ThankYou points at 1.7 cents apiece, which means you’re effectively earning a 5.1% return on all your gas purchases with this card. That’s the highest return of any card on our list.
But if cash back is your main goal, then the Costco Anywhere Visa Card will pad your wallet the most every time you go to fill up. However, if you aren’t a Costco member, you might want to consider the Citi Custom Cash Card — you’ll earn 5% on gas every month on up to $500 in gas purchases as long as you make sure that gas is your highest spend category each billing cycle.
Then there are the Discover it Cash Back and Chase Freedom Flex cards, but you’ll only earn bonus cash back on gas during designated rotating quarters. And if you stay at Hilton hotels often, the Hilton Honors Amex Surpass can help you earn a free hotel stay with your gas purchases.
Finally, the PenFed Platinum Rewards Card works well for those who don’t mind joining the credit union and having somewhat limited redemptions options, while the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Secured Card Card is best for people with poor credit who are looking to work their way back onto a solid financial footing.
Looking for the best overall credit card? Find out which cards CNN Underscored chose as its best credit cards to consider right now.
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