Written by Missy Nolan
Paying cash for gas can be a pain, especially if it’s raining or you’ve got small children you have to unload from the vehicle. We won’t even talk about the long lines that wrap through the store as people wait to pay for their candy bars and cups of coffee.
A gas credit card conveniently lets you skip the craziness inside and pay at the pump, but do you really need one? We’ve provided tons of essential info about gas credit cards below so you can make an informed choice. Let us know if we missed anything!
General Questions About Gas Credit Cards
What is a gas credit card?
A gas credit card is a piece of plastic imprinted with a 16-digit number that lets you access a predetermined line of credit for qualifying purchases. Gas credit cards come in two formats: Branded and cobranded (we explain these terms in detail under “What is a branded gas credit card?” and “What is a cobranded gas credit card?”).
Gas credit cards focus primarily on gas-related perks, such as discounted gasoline or cash-back rewards for use at a specific gas station brand. You may also receive discounts on items inside the gas station, like hot dogs and soda.
Is a gas credit card the same as a gas rebate card?
It depends. Technically a gas credit card and a gas rebate card are not the same thing, but people often refer to a credit card for gas as a gas rebate card.
As with a credit card, a gas rebate card is a card that you present to a cashier or slide at the pump. However, a gas rebate card doesn’t have a line of credit. You slide it for a discount and/or use it to collect rewards, but you can’t use it as a substitute for cash.
What is a branded gas credit card?
A branded gas credit card is a card that’s only accepted at a specific gas station or chain of gas stations. For example, you can’t use a branded QuikTrip gas card at Mobil. You also can’t use a branded gas credit card at grocery stores, restaurants, or retailers that aren’t associated with the gas station that issued your card.
What is a cobranded gas credit card?
A cobranded gas credit card features two companies: The credit card company that issued your card, and the gas station brand that has partnered with the credit card company. Well-known credit card providers include Visa, MasterCard, and American Express.
The BP Visa Credit Card is an example of a cobranded gas credit card because it features BP and Visa. You can use this cobranded card - and other cobranded cards - just about anywhere, not just at a specific gas station. You don’t even have to buy gas; you can use a cobranded Visa card at any store that accepts Visa payments.
Can you use a gas credit card anywhere?
If you have a cobranded gas credit card, you can use it anywhere that accepts cards issued by your credit card provider. Review the question above titled “What is a cobranded gas credit card?” if you’re unsure.
You should also review your credit card agreement to see if certain goods and services are prohibited. For example, your card company may request that you avoid purchasing lottery tickets or visiting the casino with your credit card.
What are the best gas credit cards?
We think the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express is the best gas credit card overall. Some of you are reading this in confusion, wondering why we chose a general credit card as the best gas credit card. We’ll explain:
Many gas credit cards have low rewards and high interest rates, and they’re only accepted at a handful of gas stations. The Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express actually offers a higher cash-back rate for gas purchases than any of the official gas credit cards we’ve researched. Crazy, right?
Here are some other gas credit cards we recommend:
- ExxonMobil Preferred Smart Card
- BP Visa Credit Card
- Discover it Secured Credit Card
- Hilton HHonors Surpass Card from American Express
- U.S. Bank Business Edge Cash Rewards World Elite MasterCard
You can learn more about all of these cards by scrolling to the top of the page. We’ve published a valuable article packed with info about the pros and cons of each one.
Selecting a Gas Credit Card
How do I pick the right gas credit card?
Review potential credit card agreements, talk to trusted friends and family members, and read detailed information from experts like our Faveable finance writers.
Consider your unique needs and preferences when you apply. If your mom loves QuikTrip but you prefer BP, you probably won’t like the same gas credit card. If you rarely drive, you might do better with a general credit card than a gas credit card. Another option is a cobranded gas credit card that lets you spend your credit line at places other than the gas station.
Your credit score also matters. There are very few gas credit cards you can get if you’re rebuilding your credit. We’ll talk more about this in the next paragraph.
Which gas card can I get with bad credit?
We suggest applying for the Discover it Secured Credit Card if you’ve got bad credit. It’s actually a general credit card, not a gas credit card, but it still scored a spot on our list of the best gas credit cards. That’s because it offers awesome cash-back rewards for gas purchases (2%) plus cash back on other qualifying goods and services.
It’s a secured credit card, which means a self-funded deposit determines your credit limit. If you pay your bill on time for at least 8 months, Discover might bump you to an unsecured credit card.
Can I get more than one gas credit card?
Yes, you certainly can. However, it might not be the best idea.
We don’t have a cookie-cutter response regarding the number of credit cards you should have in general, but we don’t recommend getting more than 1 gas credit card. Gas credit cards often have high interest rates and low cash-back rewards. You generally have to visit a specific chain regularly to make your credit card a worthwhile addition to your wallet, and it’s hard to do that if you have multiple gas credit cards.
What features should I look for in a gas credit card?
When you select a gas credit card, look for features like cash-back rewards, discounted fuel, and special deals on gas station snacks. You should also make sure the APR isn’t too high, as well as find out whether you can afford the monthly payment. You can usually find this information by viewing the terms and service document for the credit card you want.
If you use multiple gas stations, look for a cobranded card rather than a branded card. This gives you the freedom to fuel up wherever you please.
Is it worth it to get a gas credit card if I don’t drive a lot?
Probably not, even if you love the hot dogs and fountain soda at your favorite gas station. Gas station credit cards often offer rewards based on how much gasoline you buy. Some of them also run special promotions that let cardholders buy discounted gas. Neither of these benefits will help you much if you don’t drive very often. If that’s the case, you’ll probably do better with a general cash-back credit card rather than a gas credit card.
Applying for a Gas Credit Card
Where do you get a gas credit card?
Some gas stations conveniently place credit card applications in stands near each gas pump. You can also go inside and request a paper application or apply online for the card you want.
Gas stations don’t issue gas credit cards, so you won’t receive the plastic card immediately. However, you can get a gas rebate card at some gas stations, but it’s not the same as a credit card. We explain the difference under the question titled “Is a gas credit card the same as a gas rebate card?”
What gas stations have gas cards?
Most large gas station chains, including QuikTrip and BP, have gas credit cards. You can also get gas station credit cards from ExxonMobil, Shell, and Marathon.
If you don’t see your favorite gas station listed here, it doesn’t mean they don’t have a card. Check with the gas station clerk next time you fuel up to find out if the company offers credit cards.
How do I get a gas card for my company?
If you’re self-employed, you can apply for a regular gas station credit card and only use it for business-related expenses. This helps simplify your recordkeeping.
Another option is to look for a gas credit card geared toward businesses. We like the U.S. Bank Business Edge Cash Rewards World Elite MasterCard because you can request an unlimited number of employee cards and connect them to your line of credit. As an added bonus, each employee can earn rewards on the card you give them - and the rewards never expire!
Why did I get a message that says I’ll receive a decision in 7 to 10 days?
Ugh. It can be frustrating to receive a message like this, but it doesn’t always mean that the company declined your card application. It just means the credit card provider needs more time to review your application.
When you apply for a credit card, a computer compares your provided information with multiple databases before deciding to approve or deny your application. If the computer can’t find some of the information it needs or has trouble determining whether you’re a responsible applicant, a human being reviews your application. This takes time, especially if a lot of applications require manual review. That’s why some online applications trigger the “We need more time to review your application” response.
When will I get my gas credit card in the mail?
Credit companies aren’t required to mail your card within a specific time frame, but many of them send cards within 7 to 10 business days. We’ve heard complaints from people who have waited 3 to 4 weeks for a card, but that’s not the norm.
The exception is if you applied for a secured credit card and didn’t pay your deposit in full. The company won’t issue your card until you pay the entire deposit, so send it in quickly if you can!
Info About Fees and Rewards
What fees are associated with gas credit cards?
Gas credit cards contain the usual fees associated with credit cards, including:
- Late payment fees
- Cash advance fees
- Over-the-limit fees
- Foreign transaction fees
- Annual fees
Your credit card might not issue all of these fees, and it might require you to pay fees not listed above. You can find information about credit card fees in your cardholder agreement (that paper brochure that often arrives with a new credit card).
Some companies charge a fee when you pay with a credit card, but your credit card provider does not request or control this fee. This fee is determined by merchants.
Do I have to pay an annual fee for a gas credit card?
Sometimes, but most gas credit cards don’t have an annual fee. Annual fees are usually found on credit cards for bad credit because the card company takes a risk when it issues a card. They’re also associated with credit cards that have generous rewards, such as free hotel rooms and unlimited cash back. This helps ensure the credit card provider makes a decent profit without restricting your rewards.
Can I get free gas with a gas credit card?
Sometimes, if you use a gas credit card that offers rewards in the form of free gas. The BP Visa Credit Card lets you redeem cash-back rewards directly at the pump, making it a great option for anyone who wants free gas.
Even if you don’t get free gas, you might score a discount. Some gas stations offer lower gas prices for cardholders. Sometimes gas credit card companies also run promotions for cardholders.
Why is my APR so high?
That depends. Are you using a gas credit card that offers all customers the same APR? If so, that’s just the amount the company has decided to charge. You can potentially lower this amount by calling and talking to the credit card company, but wait until you’ve established a stable payment history with them.
If your gas credit card agreement says something like “APR determined by creditworthiness,” it means your credit score probably needs some TLC. If you’ve got bad credit or a recent history of late payments, a credit card company is less likely to offer you a favorable APR. That’s because it’s more risky for them to give you a card than it is for them to extend credit to a guy with a 780 FICO score.
Sometimes a high APR is temporary. If you’ve recently paid your bill late or gone over your credit limit, you might be stuck with a penalty APR for a while.
Which gas credit cards have the best cash-back rewards?
Depends on what you buy and how often you visit a gas station. Our favorite card is the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express even though it isn’t technically a gas credit card. It offers 3% cash back on gas purchases, plus 6% on qualifying groceries.
The BP Visa Credit Card rewards you with a $0.25 discount for each gallon of gas you buy after you spend at least $100 at participating gas stations. We love that you can redeem this reward at the pump rather than waiting for it to appear as a statement credit.
How do I earn rewards with my gas credit card?
It’s a cinch to earn rewards with your gas credit card - all you have to do is buy stuff with it! Make sure you use your card for qualifying goods and services, such as fuel, gas station snacks, and other items inside of the gas station.
If you have a general credit card, you can potentially earn cash back for all qualifying purchases, not just gas-related expenses. For example, the Hilton HHonors Surpass Card from American Express gives you 6 points for every $1 you spend on gas, but you also earn points for booking hotel rooms.
Keep an eye out for bonus offers when you first get your card. Some card providers offer limited-time bonuses, such as extra cash back if you spend a certain amount during the first 90 days.
How do I redeem my rewards?
Redemption methods vary by card, but here are some common options we’ve seen:
- Statement credits
- Paper checks with your cash-back bonus
- Trading points for rewards, such as free hotel rooms or gift cards, by visiting a special members-only website
The BP Visa Credit Card lets you redeem rewards directly at the pump, but we haven’t seen many cards that offer this awesome option.
Do my rewards expire?
Sometimes credit card rewards expire in a year or two, but that’s not always the case. We like that rewards never expire with the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express.
You can find out when the rewards expire for your credit card by reviewing your cardholder agreement or contacting the company. If you have an online portal where you sign in to pay your bill, you might also find info about rewards there.
Gas Card Use
Can you only buy gas with a gas credit card?
No, unless your credit card specifically states that you can’t buy anything else. Branded cards are only good for gas and items sold inside of the gas station, like fountain soda or potato chips. Cobranded cards can be used for nearly everything, including items sold at grocery stores, restaurants, and retailers.
How do I pay for gas with a credit card?
Pay for gas with a credit card by swiping your card at the pump unless the gas station has a different procedure in place. You’ll usually see a message that says “Please pay inside” if you can’t use your card at the pump. You may also notice that your card doesn’t work after dark; that’s because some gas stations shut down outdoor payments when it’s almost closing time.
If you have a prepaid debit card, you probably can’t pay at the pump. A prepaid debit card is not the same thing as a gas credit card, but some people get the two confused.
Can you get soda and food inside the gas station with a gas credit card?
Yes, you can chow down on gas station goodies funded with your line of credit unless your card agreement specifies otherwise. You can also use your credit card for personal care items, such as toilet paper and razors, or stock up on diapers at the gas station.
Do gas cards help build credit?
A gas credit card can help build credit, but it can also help destroy it. Use your card responsibly if you want to build your credit score. Pay the bill on time each month, and don’t max it out. Try to keep your balance less than 30% of your available credit line. For example, you shouldn’t charge more than $150 if you have a credit card with a $500 limit.
Can I add my spouse to my credit card?
Yes, as long as it’s okay with the credit card provider. Some companies require spouses to also meet the credit requirements established for their gas credit cards, but you might be able to add your loved one as an authorized user if he or she wants to repair a damaged credit score.
Can I add my child to my credit card?
Yes, you can probably add your child to your credit card if they’re over the age of 18. Some credit card companies let you add younger teenagers to your card, but keep in mind you’re responsible for everything they buy with your line of credit.
If you don’t think your teen is ready for a credit card just yet, consider buying them gift cards for a local gas station instead.
How do I pay my bill?
Most credit card companies offer online payment options, but you generally have to create an account first. You can also pay your bill over the phone or mail in a check or money order.
When you pay your bill, you might have to pay with a checking account. Some companies accept payments from debit cards and other credit cards, but many of them don’t.
If you’re worried you’ll forget to pay your bill on time, find out if the credit card company offers an auto-payment program. After you enroll, the company automatically processes your monthly payment, usually with a checking account number that you’ve provided.
Should I pay off my gas credit card every month?
We generally recommend it (especially with the awful interest rates some gas credit cards have), but there are exceptions.
If you’re trying to build credit, you might feel better leaving a small balance on your card and paying it off over a period of 6 to 12 months. Whenever possible, make sure your balance doesn’t exceed 30% of your available credit limit.