With gas prices seemingly always on the up, credit card companies are taking advantage of the situation by offering gas reward incentives. This helps credit card users build up gas rewards so they can save money at the pump. Since nearly two-thirds of Americans already pay for their gas with plastic, it makes sense to have a rewards card on hand, but how can you be sure you`re choosing a good one?
Discounts at the Pump
Let`s face it; you`re looking into a gas rewards card to save money on gas. Make sure the card you choose comes with adequate discounts that make it worth your while, whether those discounts are based on dollars or gallons. Some companies offer cards that offer a cash percentage back that`s based on total price spent and a 5% discount may mean saving as much as 18 cents per gallon. Discounts based on dollars tend to look smaller on paper, but they usually add up to more in the long run.
Fees and Interest Rates
You don`t want to offset the rewards you earn at the pump with high interest rates and fees. Similarly, gas rewards cards are only effective when cardholders are able to pay off those monthly balances in full. Carrying over a balance of any amount to the next month will likely offset any savings you`ve earned, which defeats the card`s purpose. Look for card offers that have lower interest rates and keep an eye on those hidden fees.
Universal Gas Station Discounts
Some gas rewards credit cards can only be used at certain stores, namely “stand alone” stores and they exclude larger retailers such as supermarket fuel centers. If you never shop at retail gas centers, you may be able to get away with a card that won`t count these purchases toward your rewards, but it`s generally best to find a card that can be used anywhere. You never know when your routine may change.
Store-Specific Gas Retailers
Along those same lines, almost every major gas station chain offers its own version of a gas rewards card, also known as a private label card. This doesn`t mean that these retailers automatically refuse to give you rewards at another gas station, but rewards tend to add up faster if you`re only purchasing gas at their locations. In many cases, the card will only be accepted at that brand`s station. This strategy could work for someone who prefers a specific chain and never fills up anywhere else, but consumers that base their purchase on the most competitive price per gallon should shop around for a universally accepted option.
How do you Plan to Collect the Rewards?
Some rewards programs come with a rebate cap amount or a minimum cashing out threshold. Others allow you to accumulate more points the longer you wait to cash them in. Automatic redemption is a great feature for consumers looking for less hassle, but some cards make it more difficult to reap the rewards. Always read the fine print and determine which collection strategy works for you.
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