Gas Credit Cards Provide a Little Slice of Jersey

by John Kiernan on November 12, 2010

gas-credit-cardsI recently took a trip to New Jersey, and for all the flack the state gets for things like MTV’s Jersey Shore, it does have a few things going for it, such as  produce, beautiful beach towns and, oddly enough, gas.  If you haven’t hit the pump in the Garden State you might not know this, but it’s a state law that gas station attendants must fill up your tank for you, free of charge.  You simply pull up to the pump, request a fuel type, sit back and wait.  It’s a gas luxury which most other states do not provide.  However, there are other ways that people from any state can make their gas purchases work for them, so no one gets completely shut out from the world of gas station luxury.

Last year, I decided to get an ExxonMobil MasterCard, and it was a great decision for both practical and financial reasons.  I typically spend $300 a month on gas, which is fairly average.  I simply go through that much gas each month and there’s nothing I can do about it because my work and the location of my home dictate the need for car travel.  I also cannot conveniently bargain hunt for gas prices because the only stations located on my usual routes of travel are ExxonMobil stations that have little cost disparity amongst them.

However, while there is nothing I can do about the amount of gas I purchase each month or the stations from which I purchase it, I discovered that I could lower the cost of my gas expenditures.  By opening the ExxonMobil card, I began to receive a 15 cent rebate for each gallon of gas I purchased, which ended up saving me around $190 over the course of a year.

While I strongly encourage other consumers to follow in my gas savings footsteps, I recognize that the ExxonMobil card may not be right for everyone.  However, in doing initial research on this genre prior to opening my ExxonMobil card, I discovered that most major gas station chains have their own credit cards and that each has pretty competitive rewards.

Some of the best options I came across and have since recommended to friends are the BP Credit Card, the Shell Credit Card, the Chevron Texaco Credit Card and the Phillips 66®-Conoco®-76® Credit Card.  These cards provide gas rebates ranging from roughly3%-5%.  Which card you get really depends on your station of choice.  Patronage of a certain gas station is important because when you have a card tied to one gas station, you will not be able to accrue rewards at another.  Thus, one of these cards should be considered only if you already frequent one particular gas station chain or can arrange to do so without difficulty or increased cost.

Still, if your lifestyle or geographic location precludes you from this, you are not out of luck.  Several of my friends who are unable to frequent one particular gas station chain have turned to cash back credit cards for their gas rewards.  Many cash back cards offer extra rewards on gas purchases, and while they are not as lucrative as gas credit cards, they do allow flexibility in gas station choice.  After looking into the cash back credit cards that provide extra rewards on gas and hearing reviews from friends, I believe the best choices within the category are the Capital One® No Hassle Cash Rewards, the TrueEarnings® Card from Costco and American Express and the Blue Cash® Preferred from American Express.  If you spend $300 a month on gas like I do, you can accumulate as much as $96 in savings with one of these cards.

Unfortunately, not everyone can sit in their cars and have their gas pumped for them; such is the state of U.S. law.  However, as long as you have good credit and consistently spend money on gas, you can make your expenses less costly with little or no lifestyle change required.  All you have to do is use either a gas credit card or cash back credit card that gives extra rewards on gas purchases.  You’ll buy gas whether you have one of these cards or not, so why not earn some savings along the way?  After all, not everyone can live in New Jersey, but we can all emulate the lifestyle!

Disclosure: Some of the links within this article point to CardHub.com, which is owned by the same parent company as Wallet Blog.

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