But a just-released list of the best gas credit cards from the website CardHub.com offers a consumers a savings strategy that might temper their ire a bit, and none too soon, because according to U.S. Energy Information Administration projections, regular gas will average $3.86 this summer, up 40% from last summer. Given this, the EIA estimates that the average American family will spend about $825 more on vehicle fuel in 2011 than it did in 2010.
But for every pain there is a pill, and in this case, it might be signing up for a gas station credit card. Cards tied to particular chains provide savings of up to 5%.
Among the best cards according to CardHub are:
- Shell credit card (RDS.A): 5% rebate on gas purchases made at Shell stations
- BP credit card (BP): 5% rebate on gas purchases made at BP stations;
- Exxon Mobil credit card (XOM): 15 cents per gallon rebate on gas purchases made at Exxon Mobil stations (amounts to 3.75% off on a $4 gallon).
- Blue Cash Preferred from American Express (AXP): 3% back on gas purchased anywhere. $75 annual fee;
- TrueEarnings Card from Costco (COST) and American Express: 3% back on gas purchased anywhere, up to $3,000 in annual gas purchases, 1% thereafter. No annual fee for Costco members;
- Capital One (COF) No Hassle Cash Rewards: 2% cash back on gas purchases made anywhere. No annual fee.
Don't go close to your credit line, he cautions, and, as with all credit cards, be sure to pay your balance in full every month: Paying interest on your gas credit card will quickly cancel out any savings you get from the discounts.
Lastly, look too for cards with no annual fees. Though the AmEx Blue Cash Preferred has an annual fee of $75, which is obviously higher than the other cards recommended by CardHub, it's not an unusually high fee, adds Papadimitriou.
While the creative use of credit cards will by no means eliminate your gas woes, it's a far simpler than less drastic step than not driving or shelling out big bucks for a more fuel-efficient car. And every little bit helps.