When credit cards first began most of the cards that you could get were from gas stations. Visa and MasterCard didn’t have the presence that they share today. Today gas credit cards are still available and there are about fifteen or so companies that offer them. One of the drawbacks to gas cards is that generally you can only use them to purchase gas, although to stay competitive with the bigger bank cards you can find ones that will allow you to buy other items.
Why with regular credit cards would someone want gas cards anymore? Probably the singular reason is to get gas rebates. All the major gas cards offer cash back. If you live where there are BP gas stations you could look into the BP Visa Card which offers a 5% rebate if you use it at BP or Amoco gas stations. Interest rates on these gas cards can be variable instead of fixed so you could pay more than you save if you can’t pay the bill in full each month. It is not unusual to find an almost 20% interest rate with a gas station card.
Some gas credit cards let you earn rewards points instead of getting a percentage cash back rebate. In this instance you would earn a certain amount of points for each dollar spent on gasoline then you would redeem these points for gift cards, merchandise or other items. When you choose gas credit cards with major branding they may also offer you a cash rebate for purchases other than gas. Usually it is 1% back on other purchases.
There are gas cards that don’t offer any rebates at all, just the chance to have revolving credit to purchase gas. They won’t have the Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Discover logo anywhere and they can only be used at those gas stations. These are no frills cards as they will have higher interest rates and won’t have balance transfer capabilities.
It is imperative that you read the terms and conditions of a gas card before signing up. They can have stipulations regarding the expiration of reward points if they aren’t redeemed or canceling the card for inactivity. The information you might see to get you interested in the card may tell you that you can earn up to 5%, but that doesn’t mean that you will get that 5%. If they have a qualification of up to 5% it means you may not always get that amount on your purchases.