Ask Stacy: Best Credit Card for Gas Rebates?

Ask Stacy: Best Credit Card for Gas Rebates?
Photo (cc) by Seth W.

With gas prices rising again – up 6.2 cents to $3.641 a gallon just this week – I was actually expecting this question…

I would like to know which credit card you use to get a 5-percent rebate on gas. I have two boys – 16 and 18 – and between them, my husband, and I, we buy a lot of gas.

We have a GM Master Card which builds a 2-percent rebate on all purchases towards a GM vehicle. I have had it around 20 years, and I have always paid it off each month. I don’t believe in paying interest. We have
over $2,000 in rebates – which we will probably never use because we don’t plan to buy a GM vehicle.

I also need a good card that has the best rebate offer without having to worry about it paying best on certain purchases only. I’m hoping to get one that is a cash rebate. Could you please recommend the best
you are aware of?

I watch you on TV every day and enjoy reading your email every day.

– Jackie N.

Here’s your answer, Jackie!

First off, you should know that credit card questions are some of the most frequent ones I’m asked, whether it’s Do I Have Too Many Credit Cards? or Is It Time to Change Credit Cards? or Should I Apply for a Credit Card to Get a Store Discount?

Thankfully, they’re also some of the easiest to answer. In your search for gas rebates, you’re in the driver’s seat, so to speak. Why? Because you uttered the magic words, “I don’t believe in paying interest.” Good for you! That means you can look for cards with excellent rewards programs even if the annual percentage rate (better known as the APR) is steeper than some other cards. That gives you a lot more options – who cares if the APR is higher if you pay your bill in full every month?

That said, I don’t really know what the best gas-reward card is. But I definitely know where you can find out: The Money Talks News credit card search is a free tool that objectively lists all the key info in seven categories – and one of those is “Credit Card for Gas Rewards.” Another category is just for cash back, while a third covers all reward programs.

Before you peruse those options, Jackie, you should realize: The best rewards often come with the most rules.

I know you said you don’t want to worry about your card “paying best on certain purchases only.” But that’s just a fact of life these days. For example, the Chase Freedom Visa – the most popular cash-back card on our list – offers lots of great rewards, but they can be tricky to follow. For instance, there’s 5 percent cash back on gas, hotel, and airline purchases – but only through the end of September. And then there are “new 5-percent categories every 3 months.” See what I mean?

Unfortunately, all you get is 1 percent back on “all other purchases.” That’s also true with the Capital One No Hassle Cash card, which offers 2 percent back on groceries and gas and 1 percent on everything else. Meanwhile, the Visa offers 3 percent for every dollar spent on its site, which can be converted into cash and a wide range of gift certificates. Credit cards that offer free airline miles come with their own complex set of rules, but the rewards often work out to be more than 1 percent.

One positive for you, Jackie: While cards that offer free airline miles often come with an annual fee, cash-bask and gas-rebate cards rarely do. But check closely to make sure you’re not saving $200 a year only to pay $100 just for the privilege of owning the card. All that info is clearly listed on our credit card search tool.

As for that GM card you had, it seems you’ve learned a lesson the hard way: Cards geared toward major purchases like cars come with some risk for their high-percentage rewards. One of our writers, Michael Koretzky, had his GM card for four years and patiently racked up more than $1,500 in savings. Then he bought a Toyota pickup because he found a better deal than any similar GM vehicle could offer. Fortunately for him, his wife later desired a Chevy Malibu. Whew!

Finally, Jackie, thanks for watching the Money Talks News broadcasts! Here’s one that might be good for your two sons as they approach college age: 5 Top Credit Tips for College Students.

Got more money questions? Browse lots more Ask Stacy answers here.

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