Photo (cc) by David Blackwell.
I recently received the following reader question:
My family and I are planning a road trip this summer, and obviously gas prices are one of our main concerns when it comes to expenses and costs. I have great credit and I never carry a balance, but I’m hoping to get a little bang for my buck at the gas pump. Can you recommend one or two credit cards that offer cash back or rewards for gas purchases?
It’s safe to say the days of $2-a-gallon gas are long gone. Yet we still need to get to work, drop the kids off at school, and — in Dave’s case — spend a little quality time with the family on the road.
While we can look up the best prices online to weed out the most expensive gas, the fact is, fuel makes up more of our monthly budget than it used to.
Two credit card companies in particular — American Express and Bank of America — have taken note, offering credit cards that reward consumers with double or triple the traditional 1 percent cash back for purchases made at the pump. These cards are reserved for consumers like Dave who have great credit.
While the savings won’t be life-altering, any relief at the pump is better than none.
This card offers 2 percent on groceries and 3 percent on gas for the first $1,500 in combined gas and grocery purchases each quarter.
The $1,500 cap is sort of a bummer because it limits the amount of bonus cash you can accrue to $45 a quarter. But $1,500 in gas and groceries is a lot, so unless your budget is big, this won’t be a factor. And $45 a quarter translates to $180 a year — nothing to scoff at, especially since once you hit the cap, you’ll still earn 1 percent on all purchases.
The card carries no annual fee and also has free travel and emergency assistance and automatic car rental insurance. You can read the terms and conditions here.
Another consumer card offering bonus cash back on gas purchases is the Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express. This card includes 2 percent cash back at gas stations, slightly less than the BankAmericard. However, there’s no limit to the bonus cash back you can earn each quarter, and if you spend $1,000 within the first three months, AmEx will reward you with 100 Reward Dollars redeemable as a statement credit.
This card also carries no annual fee and has a free emergency hotline. You can read the terms and conditions here.
Again, 2 cents back on every $1 you spend on gas purchases won’t make or break your trip. But over the course of a year (or, in Dave’s case, a vacation) that 2 or 3 cents can add up to a couple hundred bucks, depending on your budget. And who’s going to say no to free money accrued on the purchases you plan to make anyway?
To sum it up for Dave, these are two solid options for families ready to hit the open road because their respective bonus cash-back promotions on gas purchases are year-round. The choice really comes down to your budget and how much you plan on spending each quarter.