Best credit cards for gas purchases
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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.
Americans typically spend a lot of time in their cars — so much time that gasoline purchases usually make up 3.3% of annual household expenses. That may not sound like much, but it means that the typical family spends about $2,094 each year on gas, according to consumer expenditure data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
As we get closer to the summer travel season, we expect to see even more travelers on the road after a year and change of being cooped up during the pandemic. Patrick De Haan, @GasBuddyGuy, notes that demand for gas is rising. To that end, you need to make sure you’re carrying best credit card to give you the most points and miles on your purchases.
Using the metrics for our best cash-back credit cards and best travel credit cards to use at the pump, TPG found nine consumer credit cards that offer solid returns of 3% or more in rewards on gas spending. Here is a list of our top picks:
Best gas credit cards of 2021
- Citi Premier® Card: Best for earning Citi points
- Chase Freedom Flex: Best for rotating bonuses
- Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Best for families
- PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card: Best for credit union members
- Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express: Best for earning Amex points
- Chase Freedom Unlimited®: Best for earning Chase points
- Costco Anywhere Visa® Card by Citi: Best for Costco members
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card: Best for road trips
- Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card: Best for tiered rewards
The information for the PenFed Platinum and Amex Everyday Preferred has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
If you’re a small-business owner — or operate your own business on the side — you may want to consider business credit cards such as The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express or the Ink Business Cash Credit Card, both of which offer returns of about 4% on your gas spending (based on TPG valuations). But this analysis focuses on personal cards, so let’s look into the best consumer credit cards to have when you’re at the gas station, compared and ranked by what you’ll earn per dollar spent:
|Credit Card||Category Bonus||Point Value of currency*
||Total Earned per Dollar Spent||Annual Fee|
|Citi Premier® Card||3x ThankYou points per dollar on air travel and at gas stations||1.7 cents||5.1 cents||$95|
|Chase Freedom Flex||5x quarterly rotating categories, on up to $1,500 max, then 1x. April – June 30, 2021, includes gas stations||2 cents||10 cents***||$0|
|Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express||3% cash back at U.S. gas stations. Terms apply.||N/A (cash back)||3 cents||$95, waived the first year (see rates & fees)|
|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 U.S. gas stations (50% points bonus when you make 30 or more purchases with your card in a billing period). Terms apply.||2 cents||4 to 6 cents, depending on points bonus||$95|
|Chase Freedom Unlimited®||1.5% cash back on spending||2 cents||3 cents***||$0|
|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 (with your $60 Gold Star Costco membership)|
|Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card||6x points at U.S. gas stations (among other 6x categories). Terms apply.||0.6 cents||3.6 cents||$95 (see rates & fees)|
|Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards credit card||3% cash back (for the first $2,500 spent per quarter on a category of your choice, including gas, 1% thereafter)||N/A (cash back)||3 cents||$0|
*Bonus value is an estimate based on TPG’s monthly valuations and not the card issuer.
**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.
***Cash back may be converted to more valuable points only when paired with a card that earns Ultimate Rewards points.
Let’s look into each card individually, including an analysis of the value of gas rewards earned over the course of a year.
Best gas credit cards
Gas rewards: Earn 3x per dollar on gas stations.
Other rewards and perks: Earn 3x per dollar at restaurants, supermarkets, and on airfare and hotels.
Sign-up bonus: Earn 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening.
Annual fee: $95
Estimated annual cash back/points from gas spending: 6,282 points worth $106.79
Keep in mind: At 1.7 cents each, ThankYou points are worth a bit 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. Providing 3x transferrable points per dollar on a consistent basis at gas stations is a very solid offering.
However, when purchasing gas, you may want to avoid gas sold at warehouse clubs as you’ll only receive 1x point per dollar with the Citi Premier® Card.
Gas rewards: The Chase Freedom Flex card awards 5x on rotating quarterly bonus categories (up to $1,500 quarterly max) 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x on drugstores and dining, 1x elsewhere.
This quarter, from April 2021 – June 2021, U.S. gas stations are a 5x bonus category, up to first $1,500 spent at bonus categories in that quarter.
Welcome offer: Earn a $200 bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening.
Annual fee: $0
Estimated annual cash back/points from gas spending: This will vary based on the rotating 5x bonus categories in the year.
Keep in mind: The Freedom Flex is technically a cash-back credit card, but you can transfer your earnings into the account of an Ultimate Rewards credit card — such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve. If you do that, these rewards convert into Ultimate Rewards points, which are worth 2 cents each according to TPG’s latest valuations. If you use the points via the Chase travel portal, Ultimate Rewards 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 U.S. gas stations.
Other rewards and perks: Earn 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1%) and 6% back on select U.S. streaming services. Earn 3% back on transit (parking, tolls, ride-share, subway, etc.) and 1% back on other purchases. Cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed for statement credits.
Welcome offer: Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the card within the first six months of card membership, up to $200 back. Plus, earn $150 back after you spend $3,000 in purchases on the card within the first six months of card membership. Cash back received in the form of statement credits.
Annual fee: $0 introductory annual fee for one year, then $95 (see rates and fees)
Estimated annual cash back/points from gas spending: $62.82
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” — places that tend to have lower gas prices — and won’t earn bonus cash back.
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: 10,470 points worth $89 to $132.97
Keep in mind: You must be a member of the Pentagon Federal Credit Union to qualify for this card, and everyone is now eligible to apply for membership since PFCU has an open charter with no military affiliation required. All members must open and maintain a savings account with at least $5.
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 U.S. gas stations.
Other rewards and perks: Earn 3x points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1x points; 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 offer: 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: 4,188 points valued at $125.64 (if you make 30 or more transactions each month)
Keep in mind: Because this card is part of the Amex Membership Rewards program, points are worth more than the standard 1 cent each you find on most cash-back cards. According to TPG’s latest valuations, Membership Rewards points are worth 2 cents apiece, thanks to the array of valuable transfer partners. That means for every dollar spent at a gas station, you’ll earn 2x points, worth a total of 4 cents. If you hit 30 monthly transactions, those 2 points per dollar spent turn into 3x points per dollar spent, worth 6 cents. This makes the EveryDay Preferred card among the most valuable options for gas purchases.
Gas rewards: Earn 1.5% cash back on all non-bonus expenses, including gas stations.
Other rewards and perks: Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards and 3% on dining and drugstore purchases
Sign-up bonus: Earn $200 bonus after spending $500 on purchases in the first three months of account opening.
Annual fee: $0
Estimated annual cash back/points from gas spending: Earn $31.41 cash back/3,141 Chase Ultimate Rewards points worth $62.82.
Keep in mind: Although the Freedom Unlimited is a cash-back credit card, you can transfer your earnings into the account of an Ultimate Rewards credit card you hold — such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Chase Sapphire Reserve — to convert your rewards into Ultimate Rewards points, which are worth 2 cents each according to TPG’s latest valuations. This is due to the program’s terrific transfer partners such as United and Hyatt. But when you use your points to book travel within the Chase travel portal, Ultimate Rewards 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 4% cash back on eligible gas for the first $7,000 per year (1% thereafter).
Sign-up bonus: None.
Annual fee: $0 with your paid Costco membership.
Estimated annual cash back/points from gas spending: $83.76
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 U.S. Costco warehouses.
Gas rewards: Earn 6x Hilton Honors bonus points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. gas stations.
Other rewards and perks: Earn 6x Hilton Honors bonus points for each dollar of eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations; 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 free weekend night reward after you spend $15,000 on purchases in a calendar year; automatic Hilton Honors Gold status, with an upgrade to Diamond when you spend $40,000 on the card in a calendar year. Enrollment required for select benefits.
Welcome offer: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend $2,000 in eligible purchases on the card in the first three months of card membership. Plus, you earn an additional 50,000 points after spending a total of $10,000 in purchases on the card in the first six months.
Annual fee: $95 (see rates and fees)
Estimated annual cash back/points from gas spending: 12,564 points worth $75.38
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 each, 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, earn a free-night certificate or upgrade to Diamond elite status.
Gas rewards: Earn 3% cash back in one of six categories of your choice, including gas purchases, for the first $2,500 spent each quarter. Note that the $2,500 quarterly cap applies to both your 3% choice category and the 2% back on grocery store/wholesale club purchases (then an unlimited 1% cash back applies to all other purchases).
Other rewards and perks: Earn 2% at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (on up to $2,500 spent per quarter on combined choice category, grocery store and wholesale club purchases, then 1%) and 1% on everything else. 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%.
Sign-up bonus: Earn a $200 online cash-rewards bonus after you spend $1,000 in the first 90 days of account opening.
Annual fee: $0
Estimated annual cash back/points from gas spending: $62.82
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 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 ranging from $20,000 to $50,000.
- Platinum status earns a 50% rewards bonus and requires combined balances ranging from $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 three-month average combined balances in your qualifying accounts, so your status could change as you deposit and withdraw money from your accounts.
How do gas credit cards work?
It’ll be no surprise to hear that gas credit cards reward those who use them when they fill up their vehicles at gas stations.
The best gas credit cards offer at least a 3% return in rewards on gas purchases and aren’t usually affiliated with any specific gas retailer meaning there are no brand or location restrictions your cash back or points earning. These cards also often have perks for spending in other categories like groceries, travel and leisure.
Related: How to save money on gas
Tips for picking the best gas rewards card
Picking the best gas reward card isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. As is always the case when deciding which card to take out, it comes down to picking a card (or cards) which will provide you with the most value given your own personal circumstances.
For example, if you stay in hotels often, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass card might be a good option for you as it earns 6x Hilton Honors bonus points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at gas stations as well as eligible restaurants and supermarkets. The reward is doubled to 12x on stays and eligible spend at Hilton properties.
On the other hand, if you could do with some extra cash, focus your attention on cards with no annual fee. Or, check to see which cards cash back as a sign up bonus like the Chase Freedom Unlimited.
For the typical U.S. household, gasoline purchases are the ninth-largest categorized expense for credit card spending in a typical year.
You probably 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 consider at least one of the credit cards on this list.
- Best travel credit cards
- Best airline credit cards
- Best dining credit cards
- Best credit cards for everyday spending
- Best credit cards for entertainment spending
Additional reporting by Stella Shon.
Featured image by Pramote Polyamate/Getty Images
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