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Credit Cards

The best gas rewards credit cards of August 2021

We reviewed 29 gas rewards credit cards using an average American's annual spending budget and digging into each card's perks and drawbacks to find the best of the best choices for fueling up based on your consumer habits.

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If you spend a lot of time in your car, a credit card that gives you bonus rewards on gas station spending is a smart way to save a little money every time you fill up.

The average American spends about $2,218 a year, or roughly $185 a month, on gas, according to a sample budget based on the latest spending data available from the location intelligence firm Esri. Choosing to use a gas rewards credit card can help offset some of the costs associated with driving to work, taking a road trip or running errands.

In order to find the best card for your next trip to the gas station, we analyzed 29 popular rewards cards that offer gas station rewards using an average American's annual spending budget and digging into each card's perks and drawbacks. (See our methodology for more information on how we choose the best cards.)

Picking the right gas card can be tricky. There are often restrictions on what qualifies as a gas station. For example, most cards exclude gas purchased from superstores, supermarkets and wholesale clubs, such as Costco and BJ's.

Before signing up for a gas rewards card, take the time to consider how to maximize the points you earn. If you have to go out of the way to buy gas from a qualifying station, or you can fill up for significantly less using your Costco membership, you might be better off going with a different rewards card.

None of the cards on our best-of list are connected with a specific gas station brand and most of them also offer strong rewards in other categories, including supermarkets and restaurants. We recognize that most people don't spend exclusively in one category and take that into consideration when recommending cards.

Here are Select's top picks for credit cards with gas station rewards.

Winner

PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card

On PenFed's secure site
  • Rewards

    5X points on gas purchases at the pump, 3X points on supermarket purchases, 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    15,000 points when you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Promo APR

    0% promotional balance transfer rate for 12 months on transfers made from now until September 30, 2021*

  • Regular APR

    13.49% to 17.99% variable on purchases; 17.99% non-variable on balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    3%

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Good/Excellent

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • High 5X points on gas at the pump and 3X on supermarket purchases
  • No bonus category activations
  • Good special financing offer on balance transfers

Cons

  • 3% balance transfer fee
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $513
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2,167

Rewards totals incorporate the points earned from the welcome bonus.

*After the promotional balance transfer period, the APR for the unpaid balance and any new balance transfers will be 17.99%. A 3% balance transfer fee applies to each transfer. This transaction is subject to credit approval. If you take advantage of this balance transfer, you will immediately be charged interest on all purchases made with your credit card unless you pay the entire account balance, including balance transfers, in full each month by the payment due date.

Who's this for? Among the cards we analyzed, the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card currently offers the highest rewards rate at gas stations with 5X points per dollar spent for gas purchases at the pump. If you want to maximize rewards at gas stations, this card can earn the average American $111 annually.

This card has no annual fee, so road warriors can maximize their savings. In addition to earning high rewards at gas stations, cardholders also benefit from unlimited 3X points for supermarket purchases.

PenFed is a credit union, so membership is required to open the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card. Anyone can join by completing a few extra steps: You need to apply, open a savings account with a $5 deposit and maintain a $5 account balance.

Best for Groceries and Gas Stations

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

On the American Express secure site
  • Rewards

    6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%), 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions, 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations, 3% cash back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more and 1% cash back on other purchases. Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 20% back on Amazon.com purchases on the card within the first six months of membership, up to $200 back. Plus, earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months from account opening

  • Annual fee

    $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 12 months on purchases, N/A for balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    13.99% to 23.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    2.7%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Pros

  • High 6% cash back at U.S. supermarket spending (up to $6,000 a year, then 1%)
  • Unlimited 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
  • Unlimited 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and on transit

Cons

  • 2.7% fee on purchases made abroad
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $679
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2,397

Rewards totals incorporate the cash back earned from the welcome bonus

Who's this for? The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers a competitive unlimited 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations. This rewards rate earns the average American $67 a year on purchases made at U.S. gas stations. Cardholders also get 3% cash back for transit purchases, including taxis, parking tolls and more, making it ideal for commuters.

Frequent food shoppers will like this card because it offers the highest cash-back rate at U.S. supermarkets — 6% (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). Plus, there's an unlimited 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions and 1% cash back on everything else.

Beyond cash back, this card comes with money-saving Amex Offers where you can earn a statement credit or additional points at select retailers. For example, a recent offer for BP and Amoco gas stations states: "Get 2 additional Membership Rewards® points per eligible dollar spent." These limited-time offers are location-based and additional terms apply.

This card has a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95, but it can be offset by the cash back you earn and discounts you can get through the Amex Offers.

Best for Dining Out and Gas Stations

PNC Cash Rewards® Visa®

Information about the PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the cards prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    4% cash back at gas stations, 3% cash back on dining, and 2% cash back at grocery stores, for the first $8,000 in combined purchases in these categories annually, 1% cash back on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    $100 bonus after you make $1,000 or more in purchases during the first 3 billing cycles following account opening

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 12 billing cycles on balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    14.49% to 24.49% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    3%, $5 minimum, within the first 90 days from account opening, then 4%, $5 minimum

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • High 4% cash back at gas stations

Cons

  • Bonus gas, dining and grocery rewards are limited to the first $8,000 in combined purchases per year
  • Minimum $25 required to redeem rewards
  • No special financing offer for new purchases
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • Estimated cash back earned after 1 year: $482
  • Estimated cash back earned after 5 years: $2,012

Rewards totals incorporate the points earned from the welcome bonus

Who's this for? The PNC Cash Rewards® Visa® gives cardholders 4% cash back at gas stations, making it one of the highest cash-back rates at gas stations. This allows the average American to earn $89 a year at gas stations alone. Dining purchases also earn a competitive 3% cash back.

However, the gas station, dining and grocery store bonus cash back is limited to the first $8,000 in combined purchases annually. Once you spend more than $8,000 in those three categories, the cash-back rate drops to 1%.

Beyond rewards, this card is fairly basic, but it doesn't have an annual fee and comes with a year of no interest on balance transfers made within the first 90 days from account opening (after, 14.49% to 24.49% variable APR). There's a 3% ($5 minimum) balance transfer fee.

Cardholders can start redeeming rewards once they have at least $25 in their PNC Cash Rewards account. Rewards can be applied as statement credits or deposited into a qualifying PNC account.

Best for Travelers (Who Love a Road Trip)

Citi Premier® Card

On Citi's secure site
  • Rewards

    3X points per $1 spent at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, and on hotels and air travel, 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

  • Annual fee

    $95

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    15.99% to 23.99% variable APR on purchases and balance transfers

  • Balance transfer fee

    3%, $5 minimum

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Good/Excellent

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Unlimited 3 points per $1 spent at gas stations
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • No special financing offers
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $1,265
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $3,129

Rewards totals incorporate the rewards earned from the welcome bonus

Who's this for? The Citi Premier® Card is a good option for frequent travelers, especially those who drive. This card offers 3X points per $1 spent on air travel and hotels and at gas stations, supermarkets and restaurants. The average American can earn $67 a year on gas station purchases.

This card does have a $95 annual fee. That's fairly reasonable, though there are other cards on this list offering the same gas rewards without an annual fee.

Learn more: Amex Green Card review: An experiential travel card for the eco-friendly consumer

Best credit cards for gas stations

Credit Card Estimated gas station rewards earned each year Estimated rewards earned after five years
PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature® Card$111$2167
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express$67$2437
PNC Cash Rewards® Visa®$89$2012
Citi Premier® Card$67$2125

Our methodology

To determine which cards offer the best value for dining out, Select analyzed 29 of the most popular credit cards offered by the biggest banks, financial companies and credit unions that allow anyone to join and offer bonus rewards at gas stations. Bonus rewards means a cardholder earns 2% or 2 points per dollar in a given category. In this case, gas stations.

We compared each card on a range of features, including cash-back rewards, welcome bonus, introductory and standard APR, balance transfer fee and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit score and customer reviews when available. We also considered additional perks, the application process and how easy it is for the consumer to redeem points.

Select teamed up with location intelligence firm Esri. The company's data development team provided the most up-to-date and comprehensive consumer spending data based on the 2019 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can read more about their methodology here.

Esri's data team created a sample annual budget of approximately $22,126 in retail spending. The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953). General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs and vitamins, and other vehicle expenses.

Select used this budget to estimate how much the average consumer would save over the course of a year, two years and five years, assuming they would attempt to maximize their rewards potential by earning all welcome bonuses offered and using the card for all applicable purchases. All rewards total estimations are net the annual fee.

It's important to note the value of a point or mile varies from card to card and based on how you redeem them. When we calculated the estimated returns, we assumed that cardholders are redeeming points/miles for a typical maximum value of 1 cent per point or mile. (Extreme optimizers might be able to achieve more value.)

Our final picks are weighted heavily toward the highest five-year returns, since it's generally wise to hold onto a credit card for years. This method also avoids giving an unfair advantage to cards with large welcome bonuses.

While the five-year estimates we've included are derived from a budget similar to the average American's spending, you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your spending habits.

Don't miss: Apple Card adds 3% cash back at Exxon and Mobil gas stations

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, please click here.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.