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Gas Rebate Cards: Are They Right For You?

Jan 3, 2008
You've probably heard about credit cards that offer you rebates on gasoline purchases. With the price of gas rising and falling (but always staying high!), you might be curious about these gas-rebate credit cards. Are they right for you? The answer could be yes, as long as you have realistic expectations.

Gas rebate cards can be issued by gasoline companies or credit card companies. Generally, the ones issued by credit card companies offer more flexibility, because gas station credit cards require you to use the card at specific stores in order to realize your rebate.

Gas credit cards probably won't save you a fortune. They will save you a dollar or two each time you fill up your tank, which can add up to a couple hundred dollars at the end of the year. If you're creative, you can save even more. When you combine a gas rebate credit card with discount club prices, or use them to purchase and reload gas station gift cards that offer their own discounts, you can greatly increase your money-saving potential.

In some ways, gas rebate credit cards are better than standard credit cards. They typically have lower interest rates (depending on your credit score), and lower standards for customer approval. These cards are great for repairing damaged credit and building a reputation for timely payments. Some even offer rebates on automobile repairs and routine car maintenance. Do your homework to find a good deal, and turn up your nose at cards that charge annual fees. You have many cards to choose from, so you can afford to be picky.

Most gas cards offer larger rebates during the first few months of use, and smaller (though not insignificant) rebates thereafter. Others have requirements about which type of gas station you must use to get the highest rebate percentage. Still others want you to use your card for purchases other than gasoline. It's all there in the fine print, so be sure to read every word before you sign up.

You should do plenty of research on any card you're thinking of applying for. As with other credit cards, gas card terms can vary wildly, depending on the issuer. When shopping for the right gas card, be sure to look at the fine print rather than the introductory rates on your contract. Look for web sites that rate different gas cards according to annual interest rates and total rebate value. The Citi Dividend Platinum Select card frequently gets high marks, as do the Discover Open Road and First National Bank Gas Rewards Platinum Visa - though the latter caters to card holders with high credit scores. An hour or two of research will help you find the card that best suits your needs.

Do be aware that gas rebates are not automatic. You will most likely have to request them to be issued, similar to the way you redeem reward points on other cards. Also, there are caps in place for how much you can save each year, though these caps are high enough that they wouldn't be an issue for the average driver.

If you do decide to get a gas credit card, keep yourself current on that card's terms and conditions. They are subject to change, sometimes without notice. Go with a reputable issuer, and get in touch with customer support if you have any questions about your card. Finally, be sure to pay off your credit card balance every month. You don't want to sabotage your savings by paying interest on your gasoline purchases.
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