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Americans spend a lot of time in their cars, and gasoline purchases make up 3.3% of annual household expenditures. That may not sound like much, but it means that the typical family spends about $1,909 each year on gas, according to consumer expenditure data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
You may spend more or less depending on your own situation, but this is the number we used when looking at the best cash-back and travel rewards credit cards to use when stopping to fill up your tank. We found 10 consumer credit cards that offer solid returns of 3% or more on gas spending.
Note that if you’re a small business owner — or operate your own business on the side — you may also want to consider business credit cards like The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express or the Ink Business Cash Credit Card, both of which can offer returns of about 4% on your gas spending. But this analysis is focused on personal cards, so let’s start with a broad look at the best consumer credit cards to have when you’re at the gas station, ranked by what you’ll earn per dollar spent:
|Category Bonus||Point Value (based on TPG Valuations)||Total Earned per Dollar Spent||Annual Fee|
|PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card||5x points on gas purchases||0.85 to 1.27 cents*||4.35 to 6.35 cents||$0|
|Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express||2x points at US gas stations (50% points bonus when you make 30 or more purchases with your card in a billing period). Terms Apply.||1.9 cents||3.8 to 5.7 cents depending on points bonus||$95|
|Wells Fargo Propel American Express® Card||3x points on travel and transit, including gas stations||1 to 1.75 cents**||3 to 5.25 cents||$0|
|Citi Premier Card||3x points on travel and gas purchases||1.7 cents||5.1 cents||$95 (waived 1st year)|
|Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi||4% cash back on eligible gas worldwide (for the first $7,000 in purchases per year, then 1%)||N/A (cash back)||4 cents||$0 (must be a Costco member to apply)|
|The Hilton Honors American Express Ascend Card||6x points at US gas stations (among other 6x categories). Terms Apply.||0.6 cents||3.6 cents||$95|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited||1.5% cash back on all spending||2.1 cents||3.15 cents***||$0|
|Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express||3% cash back at US gas stations. Terms Apply.||N/A (cash back)||3 cents||$95|
|Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card||3% cash back (for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter, then 1%)||N/A (cash back)||3 cents||$0|
*TPG does not assess the value of PenFed points, however PenFed has provided examples to us that indicate points are worth 0.85 cents toward gift cards, and perhaps a little more for merchandise. When booking travel, points are worth around 0.85 to 0.90 cents each for air travel, but as much as 1.27 cents toward hotel bookings, with many hotel reservations returning about 1.18 cents in value per point redeemed.
**Travel redemption value is increased when paired with the Wells Fargo Visa Signature Card.
***Cash back may be converted to more valuable points only when paired with a card that earns Ultimate Rewards points.
Let’s dive deeper into the details of these credit cards, including an analysis of the value of gas rewards earned over the course of a year.
PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card
Gas rewards: Earn 5x points “at the pump.”
Other rewards and perks: Earn 3x points on groceries and 1 point per dollar on all other spending.
Sign-up bonus: Earn a $100 statement credit when you spend $1,500 within the first 90 days
Annual fee: $0
Estimated annual cash back/points from gas spending: 9,545 points worth $81.13 to $121.22
Keep in mind: You must be a member of the Pentagon Federal Credit Union to qualify for this card. Points may be redeemed for rewards only, including airfare and hotel stays. Based on previous reporting, points are worth as little as 0.85 cents each when redeemed for gift cards and as much as 1.27 cents apiece when put toward hotel bookings. A minimum balance of 1,000 points is required for redemptions.
Gas rewards: Earn 2x points at US gas stations.
Other rewards and perks: Earn 3x points at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x) and 1x points on other purchases. Use your card 30 or more times on purchases in a billing period and earn 50% more points on those purchases.
Welcome bonus: Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards points after you make $1,000 in purchases in your first three months.
Annual fee: $95
Estimated annual cash back/points from gas spending: 3,818 points valued at $114.54 (if you make 30 or more transactions each month)
Keep in mind: Since this card is part of Amex’s Membership Rewards program, points are worth more than the standard 1 cent each you’ll find with most cash back cards. According to TPG’s latest valuations, Membership Rewards points are worth 1.9 cents apiece. That means for every dollar spent at a gas station, you’ll earn 2 points worth 3.8 cents, or slightly less than the 4% cash back you’d earn with the Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi. But if you hit 30 monthly transactions, those 2 points per dollar spent turn into 3 points per dollar spent worth 5.7 cents in travel, making this among the most valuable card for gas purchases. (The information for the Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.)
Gas rewards: Earn 3x points on gas station purchases.
Other rewards and perks: Earn 3x points on travel, including flights, hotels, homestays, car rentals, taxis and rideshares, plus dining and popular streaming services. Earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
Welcome bonus: Earn 30,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 in the first three months.
Annual fee: $0
Estimated annual cash back/points from gas spending: 5,727 points worth $57.27 to $100.22
Keep in mind: Points are generally valued at 1 cent apiece and can be redeemed for travel, gift cards, charity donations or cash back. However, the Go Far Rewards points you earn on the Propel Amex can be combined with the no-annual-fee Wells Fargo Visa Signature Card, which allows you to redeem your points at 1.5 cents each for airfare. And if you spend $50,000 in a calendar year on the Wells Fargo Visa, that redemption rate jumps to 1.75 cents per point, which would make the points earned on Propel Amex gas purchases worth as much as 5.25 cents per dollar when redeemed for airfare. (The information for the Wells Fargo Visa Signature Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.)
Gas rewards: Earn 3x points on travel, including gas.
Other rewards and perks: Earn 2x points on dining out and entertainment and 1x points on all other purchases.
Sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 ThankYou Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening.
Annual fee: $95, waived the first year.
Estimated annual cash back/points from gas spending: 5,727 points worth $97.36
Keep in mind: At 1.7 cents each, ThankYou points are worth slightly less than Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards, but the Citi currency can still prove valuable, especially when you transfer points to one of the program’s 15 travel partners. However, when purchasing gas, you may want to avoid gas sold at warehouse clubs as you’ll only receive 1 point per dollar with the Citi Premier.
Gas rewards: Earn 4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year (1% thereafter).
Sign-up bonus: None
Annual fee: $0
Estimated annual cash back/points from gas spending: $76.36
Keep in mind: You have to be a Costco member to be eligible for this card, and although this is a cash-back card, you can’t earn statement credits or redeem your rewards at any time. Instead, you’ll receive a reward coupon annually, redeemable for cash or merchandise at US Costco warehouses.
Gas rewards: Earn 6x Hilton Honors bonus points for each dollar of eligible purchases at US gas stations.
Other rewards and perks: Earn 6x Hilton Honors bonus points for each dollar of eligible purchases at US restaurants and at US supermarkets; earn 12x Hilton Honors bonus points for each dollar of eligible purchases charged on your card directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio; earn 3x bonus points for all other eligible spending. Earn a Weekend Night Reward from Hilton Honors after you spend $15,000 on purchases in a calendar year.
Welcome bonus: Earn 125,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend $2,000 in purchases on the card within your first three months of cardmembership.
Annual fee: $95
Estimated annual cash back/points from gas spending: 11,454 points worth $68.72.
Keep in mind: This card may not be a good choice for general points and miles collectors, as TPG values Hilton points at only 0.6 cents apiece, less than many other programs. That makes the 6x gas station bonus look far less attractive, but using this card could make sense to Hilton loyalists who want to maximize Hilton Honors points.
Rewards: Earn 1.5% cash back on all spending.
Welcome bonus: Earn $150 after you spend $500 in the first three months.
Annual fee: $0
Estimated annual cash back/points from gas spending: $28.64 cash back/2,864 Membership Rewards points worth $60.14
Keep in mind: Although Freedom Unlimited is a cash-back credit card, you can transfer your earnings into the account of another Ultimate Rewards credit card you own — like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve — and convert your rewards into UR points, which are worth 2.1 cents apiece according to TPG’s latest calculations. Or when used to redeem travel within the Chase travel portal, UR points are worth 1.25 cents when used in combination with the Sapphire Preferred and 1.5 cents with the Sapphire Reserve.
Gas rewards: Earn 3% cash back at US gas stations.
Other rewards and perks: Earn 6% cash back at US supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%), 3% at select US department stores and 1% back on other purchases.
Welcome bonus: Receive a $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases within the first three months.
Annual fee: $95
Estimated annual cash back/points from gas spending: $57.27
Keep in mind: This is a cash-back card, so there’s no opportunity to earn valuable Amex Membership Rewards points, but 3% in cash back on gas purchases isn’t bad. However, when it comes to earning gas rewards, not all stores are treated equally. American Express says “superstores, supermarkets and warehouse clubs that sell gasoline are not considered gas stations” and won’t earn bonus cash back.
Gas rewards: Earn 3% cash back (for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter, then 1%).
Other rewards and perks: Earn 1% cash back on every purchase, 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 3% on gas for the first $2,500 in combined grocery/wholesale club/gas purchases each quarter. Get a 10% customer bonus every time you redeem your cash back into a Bank of America checking or savings account. If you’re a Preferred Rewards client, you can increase that bonus to 25%-75%.
Welcome bonus: Earn a $200 online cash rewards bonus after you spend $500 in the first 90 days.
Annual fee: $0
Estimated annual cash back/points from gas spending: $57.27
Keep in mind: You can earn tiered relationship bonuses in Bank of America’s Preferred Rewards program based on the amount of money you have on deposit in your qualifying Bank of America and/or Merrill Edge/Merrill Lynch investment accounts. You’re eligible for a percentage-based bonus of base rewards points you earn once you have at least $20,000 in assets at the bank. Here’s how the tiers work:
- Gold status earns a 25% rewards bonus and requires combined balances of between $20,000 and $50,000.
- Platinum status earns a 50% rewards bonus and requires combined balances of between $50,000 to $100,000.
- Platinum Honors status earns a 75% rewards bonus and requires a combined balance of more than $100,000.
The rewards tier you qualify for will be based on your 3-month average combined balances in your qualifying accounts, so your status could change as you deposit and withdraw money from your accounts.
Don’t Forget About Rotating Categories
We haven’t included cards like the Chase Freedom or Discover it® Cash Back on our list because their base rewards are too low (1%), while their rotating category bonuses change every year. That being said, both cards have pretty reliably included gas purchases for at least one quarter each year as one of the categories eligible to receive 5% cash back on up to $1,500 a quarter. That could be worth up to $75 cash back during the quarter.
For the typical US household, gasoline purchases are the ninth-largest categorized expense that can typically be placed on a credit card. You shouldn’t make gas rewards your only priority when choosing your next credit card, but it’s an important factor if you’re driving the family around regularly. As always, your best bet is to find a card that offers great bonus category rewards on the spending you do most frequently, so if gas is a major part of your budget, make sure you’re considering at least one of the credit cards on this list.
Featured image by aabejon / Getty Images.
One of the most unique benefits of this new card is that you can get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Propel Amex. This card is also a great option for gas purchases since you'll earn 3X points and the 30,000 point sign up bonus is worth $300 cash back.
- New! Earn 30K bonus points when you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first 3 months – that's a $300 cash redemption value
- Earn 3X points for eating out and ordering in
- Earn 3X points for gas stations, rideshares and transit
- Earn 3X points for travel including flights, hotels, homestays and car rentals
- Earn 1X points on other purchases
- $0 Annual Fee
- 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers (fees apply), then a 14.49%-26.99% variable APR; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee
- Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms, and conditions