Quick Points: Earn airline miles for gas purchases

Mar 9, 2022

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Gas station purchases are some of the most frequent (and painful) purchases of modern life; no anesthetic can render it pleasurable. This is even more true now with gas prices at an all-time record high. On the (very slight) bright side, if you’ve got a Shell, Marathon or Arco in your area, you can at least diminish the agony by earning bonus airline miles — in addition to the rewards you already earn with your credit card.

Every time you swipe at the pump, you can effectively contribute to a “savings account” for your upcoming vacation in the form of travel rewards. You’re going to need to fill up anyway — you might as well earn bonus miles. Plus, your fill-ups can help you earn elite status with at least one major U.S. airline.

Let’s look at two popular programs that let you earn bonus airline miles for each gallon of gas you buy.

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Double-dip your airline mile earnings at the pump for little effort

American Airlines Fuel Rewards (Shell)

American Airlines participates in the Fuel Rewards program by Shell. When filling up at a Shell location, you’ll receive 2 miles per gallon of fuel. Plus, new members will earn 100 miles just for joining and completing their first fill-up at Shell.

Just note that when you opt to earn Fuel Rewards, you’ll be forfeiting your opportunity to earn cash back (between 3 and 5 cents per gallon) via Fuel Rewards. TPG estimates that American Airlines miles are worth 1.77 cents each. That means earning 2 miles per gallon is like earning 3.54 cents in value for each gallon (though it’s possible to get significantly more value from your rewards if you know how to maximize American Airlines miles). On the flip side, the miles you earn will also count toward Loyalty Points, making this even more attractive for those chasing American elite status.

Related: Here’s how I save $1,000 per year on gas fill-ups

You can sign up here to enroll your AAdvantage number in the Fuel Rewards program.

Signup process for Fuel Rewards (Screenshot courtesy American Airlines and Fuel Rewards)
The sign up process for Fuel Rewards is straightforward. (Screenshot from American Airlines and Fuel Rewards)

Both the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite Mastercard® and the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® Mastercard® earn 2 miles per dollar at gas stations. Use these cards to make your purchase and you’ll earn American Airlines miles even faster.

Alternatively, you can earn 3 Citi ThankYou points per dollar spent when you use the Citi Premier® Card to pay for gas. The card currently offers 60,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on the card in the first three months of account opening. You’ll also earn 3 points per dollar on air travel, hotels, supermarket spending and at restaurants.

Citi points no longer transfer to AAdvantage, but you can use the points to book American flights through Etihad Guest. Even better, this program has some of the best redemption rates on American flights. For example, business class flights to Europe cost just 50,000 miles one-way.

The information for the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select and CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select cards has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: How to earn miles in the American Airlines AAdvantage program

Southwest MakeItCount Rewards (Marathon and Arco)

Southwest participates in the MakeItCount Rewards program by Marathon. Filling up at Marathon or Arco will net you 1 Southwest point per gallon.

TPG estimates that Southwest points are worth 1.5 cents each. That’s not an earth-shattering return for your gas spending — though every point helps to get you closer to your next (nearly) free vacation.

You can sign up for MakeItCount Rewards here and start earning Southwest points for purchases you’d make anyway.

Related: How to earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points

No Southwest credit cards offer gas stations as a bonus category. However, both the Chase Freedom Flex and Chase Freedom Unlimited offer the following sign-up bonus:

  • $200 after you spend $500 on purchases within the first three months from account opening.
  • 5% back (5 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per dollar) at gas stations on up to $6,000 in spending during the first year of card membership.

(Note that these sign-up bonuses are available when applying through Chase’s public application pages and are different than the bonuses you’d receive when applying directly through TPG.) The information for the Chase Freedom Flex and Freedom Unlimited offers on this page 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’ve got an annual fee-incurring, Ultimate Rewards-earning card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, you can then transfer these rewards instantly to Southwest.

Pro tip: The MakeItCount program is also a partner of Wyndham Rewards if you prefer to earn hotel points. Wyndham points can be extremely valuable if you know the best way to use them.

Bottom line

Gas prices are at all-time highs and will only continue to rise for the foreseeable future. Luckily, there are several ways to maximize your earnings on gas purchases.

The best part about the rewards discussed here is that they’re in addition to any points or miles you earn with your credit card, so make sure you have a card that offers gas spending as a bonus category. You may also be able to stack them with other gas rewards programs like Pay with GasBuddy. To learn more about other gas rewards programs, read this guide.

Additional reporting by Benji Stawski.

Featured photo by Halfpoint/Getty Images.

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More Things to Know
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