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Gas prices have gone up and down a lot lately, and no matter how much you're paying these days, you're probably paying more than you would like. Although some people cut gas costs by biking or taking public transit, for many people, it’s just not an expense you can give up completely.

You can’t change the pump’s prices, but you can make your gas spending go a little further with the right credit card. We are breaking down the difference between a gas card and gas rewards credit card so you can decide which is better for your wallet.

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What Is a Gas Credit Card?

A gas-branded credit card is one issued by an oil company, usually in partnership with a bank. Many gas-branded cards can only be used at that specific fuel station, but research each fuel company's offerings for exact rules. For example, Shell offers a Fuel Rewards Credit Card and a Fuel Rewards Mastercard. The latter can be used on non-Shell purchases and earns rebates on dining and select expenditures.

Gas credit cards typically don't have any fees and allow you to save a set amount off of each gallon of gas purchased. Some cards come with rewards on nonfuel purchases made at the fuel station too.

How Do Gas Credit Cards Work?

Gas credit cards work similarly to a store credit card. For example, if you have a Kohl’s or JCPenney credit card, you know that your card is only useful at those stores. Like all other credit cards, you will be required to pay a monthly minimum and any amount that is carried over to the next month will earn interest. Gas credit cards generally have a higher interest rate than average rewards cards.

Here are some popular gas credit cards:

  • Shell Fuel Rewards Credit Card
  • Techron Advantage Card
  • ExxonMobil Smart Card
  • Sunoco Rewards Credit Card

People with fair credit typically have an easier time being approved for gas cards than some other credit cards, and gas cards can be a good choice for those who are looking to rebuild their credit. Since you can only use the card for gas, it will be harder to rack up the bill, making it easier to keep track of.

Recommended Credit Cards

Credit Card Rewards Rate Annual Fee Bonus Offer Learn More

Chase Sapphire Preferred®

1x- 5xPoints More Info

Enjoy benefits such as 5x on travel purchased through Chase Travel℠, 3x on dining, select streaming services and online groceries, 2x on all other travel purchases, 1x on all other purchases, $50 Annual Chase Travel Hotel Credit, plus more.

$95 75,000Chase Ultimate Rewards Points More Info

Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's over $900 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠. Dollar Equivalent: $1,725 (75,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points * 0.023 base)

1x - 3xPoints More Info

Earn 3 points for every $1 on Southwest Airlines® purchases, 2 points for every $1 on Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners, 2 points per $1 on local transit and commuting (including rideshare), 2 points per $1 on internet, cable, and phone services; select streaming, and 1 point for every $1 on all other purchases.

$99 50,000Southwest Rapid Rewards Points More Info

Earn 50,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Dollar Equivalent: $700 (50,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points * 0.014 base)

Wells Fargo Active Cash® Card

2%Cashback More Info

Earn unlimited 2% cash rewards on purchases.

$0 $200Cash Bonus More Info

Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $500 in purchases in the first 3 months.

Citi Custom Cash® Card

1% - 5%Cashback More Info

Earn 5% cash back on purchases in your top eligible spend category each billing cycle, up to the first $500 spent, 1% cash back thereafter. Also, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Special Travel Offer: Earn an additional 4% cash back on hotels, car rentals, and attractions booked on Citi Travel℠ portal through 6/30/2025.

$0 $200Cash Bonus More Info

Earn $200 in cash back after you spend $1500 on purchases in the first 6 months of account opening. This bonus offer will be fulfilled as 20,000 ThankYou® points, which can be redeemed for $200 cash back.

Rewards Credit Cards vs. Oil Company Gas Cards

So, you know you want to be rewarded at the pump, but you still aren’t sure if you should go for a rewards card with gas perks or an oil-company card? We’ll help you do the math.

Feature Gas Rewards Card Oil Company Gas Card

Earn points or cash back

Yes

Rarely

Can use card anywhere

Usually

No

Save cents per gallon or earn rebates

Not usually

Yes

Use at any gas station

Yes

Not usually

Credit required

Good to excellent

Fair

Annual fee

Sometimes

Not usually

Features of a rewards gas card:

  • Earn rewards: Many rewards cards let you earn points or cash back on the amount you spend on fuel. You'll earn the same percentage back on any gas station you use so you don’t have to be a company loyalist.
  • Other perks: Rewards credit card comes with other perks, as well as more opportunities to earn points or cash back on other spending. You can choose a card based on your spending habits to reap the most rewards.

Features of a co-branded oil-company card:

  • Discounts: Co-branded gas cards typically offer cents off per gallon or cents per gallon rebates. For example, the Techron Advantage Visa card allows cardholders to earn a certain number of cents per gallon at Chevron and Texaco for a period of time after opening the account.

Gas Card Pros and Cons

Here's a look at the pros and cons of those co-branded oil company gas cards.

Pros

  • Better chance of approval as you typically don't need as high of a credit score
  • Card limit can help prevent overspending or debt
  • Most have some level of fraud protection above what debit cards provide
  • Can save money on your gas spending

Cons

  • Typically have high APRs
  • Typically have limited rewards
  • Rewards usually have lower caps

Gas Rewards Credit Cards Pros and Cons

On the other hand, gas rewards cards also have their benefits and drawbacks.

Pros

  • Earn more back on a variety of spending
  • Redeem rewards on what you want, not just gas
  • APRs are often a bit lower than with co-branded gas cards

Cons

  • Harder to get approved for
  • May have an annual fee
Get The Most Bang for Your Buck with Rewards

Best Rewards Credit Cards

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How to Choose a Credit Card for Gas Rewards

When choosing the right card for your gas rewards, don’t just look at how much you earn for spending. Compare these important factors too:

  • Rewards cap: Check if there is a limit to how much you can earn on your annual gas spending. Some cards might offer 5% cash back on gas for one quarter’s spending and then drop it down to 1%.
  • Annual fee: Annual fees are not an automatic deal-breaker, but weigh the card’s perks against the fee.
  • Redemption value: How can you spend your gas rewards? Cards with redemption flexibility allow you to use your rewards to benefit your budget and lifestyle.
  • Membership requirements: Some credit cards have warehouse membership fees and rules that you'll want to review so you know any expenses or limitations you're in for.

How Much Money Can a Gas Credit Card Save You?

On average, Americans spend $3,120 per year on gas, according to 2022 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Your number might be higher if you are a regular commuter or drive a large vehicle. With an average gas price of $3.31 per gallon, per November 2023 data from AAA, that comes out to almost 943 gallons per year. Using those stats, here’s how much you would save with a gas credit card versus a rewards credit card:

  • A gas card that saves 5 cents per gallon: $47.15
  • A rewards card that earns 2% back: $62.40
  • A rewards card that earns 3% back: $93.60
  • A rewards card that earns 5% back: $156.00

Choosing a rewards card that earns 2% or more cash back on gas will save you more on your gas purchases. While gas spending is pricey, there's probably another spending category (such as groceries or dining out) that you spend more on. Look for a card that will reward you both for gas purchases and your other frequent purchases.

Quick Tip

Try our credit card comparison tool to look for the rewards categories and other features that matter most to you.

RT

Ryan Tronier

Ryan Tronier is a personal finance expert and writer. His work has been published on NBC, ABC, USATODAY, The Mortgage Reports, Yahoo Finance, MSN, and more. Ryan is the former managing editor of the finance website Sapling, as well as the former personal finance editor at Slickdeals. Find him online at ryantronier.com.