Why Cash Back Rewards Cards At The Gas Station Are A Bad Idea

With gas prices peaking this time of year, the idea of picking up a rewards credit card to help you save some cash might seem pretty appealing. Consumer Reports took a hard look at these cards and found that they're actually not a very good deal at all—even if you do buy a lot of gas.

The problem exists because the rewards aren't really that great to begin with and you have to frequent the same gas station repeatedly, which isn't necessarily realistic when your tank is low and you need to fill up. Consumer Reports offers an example:

[T]he rewards offered by gas-company credit cards can be confusing. The Shell card, for instance, offers you 5 cents back per gallon as a credit on your statement, but only if you buy 45 gallons of gas at Shell stations every month. And you don't get back any money once you buy more than 100 gallons from Shell in a month, so your rewards are capped at $60 annually.

Consumer Reports suggests you're better off paying for a CostCo membership and filling up at your local store, where the prices are almost always lower than any nearby gas station. You may also want to consider picking up a regular credit card that offers bonus rewards at the pump. I picked up an Amazon credit card awhile back because I order from them so often, only to discover I get double points at gas stations. This is apparently common with a number of Chase rewards cards. While it won't provide a huge bonus, it at least offers you the freedom to buy gas at any station. Whichever route you prefer, just avoid the gas station cards. The fine print often reveals them to be a pretty bad deal, and they normally come with a very high APR.

Can gas-credit-card rewards ease your pain at the pump? | Consumer Reports via The Consumerist

Photo by Steve Wilson.