There are two main points to gas credit cards. First, they are good for consumers, offering discounts and other premiums in exchange for brand loyalty. Second, they are good for the gas stations and the gasoline companies that own and run them by promoting customer loyalty, which in turn increases their revenues and profits.
In past generations, there were at least perceived differences in gasoline stations and the different brands of fuel and other products that they dispensed. Gas stations also provided friendly customer service. They washed your windows and checked your oil and tires while filling your gas tank.
Most stations of that era were also service stations that employed full time mechanics who could fix most any type of vehicle. In those days, automobiles were much simpler machines and most repairs could be handled by these neighborhood mechanics.
In this day and age, consumers don’t recognize much difference in gasoline brands. As with most consumer goods and services, gasoline customers will go where the prices are the lowest. Modern, self-service gas stations often add additional services to attract customers, like car washes and convenience stores.
How long have gas station credit cards been around?
Individual service stations have been offering credit to their customers since the 1920s. By the 1970s, major oil companies began to offer their own credit cards through their own bank, or by special arrangement with another banks or credit organization.
Gradually, the more general purpose MasterCard and Visa logo cards began to dominate the marketplace. Eventually some gas companies began to suspend their own cards in favor of the more popular logo credit cards, though others have maintained their own credit card brands.
What options are there to save on gasoline?
Cards from gasoline credit card companies and MasterCard and Visa logo gasoline rewards cards are the most common savings on gas credit card choices. A third option is a customer loyalty card. While these are not credit cards, they offer gasoline discounts to customers of a participating retail or grocery chain.
The store’s parent company usually owns and operates the gas pumps installed at their store locations. Examples of these outlets include the giant Kroger food store chain (in limited areas). Yet another option to save on gas is by using a membership card purchased at one of the nation’s many wholesale merchants such as Sam’s Club, BJ’s Wholesale Club, and Costco.
What are the best gas credit cards?
In the spring of 2011, CBS News produced a story on the growing popularity of gasoline credit cards. At that time, gasoline prices were once again reaching record highs, topping $4 per gallon in many areas of the country.
The CBS MoneyWatch article mentions several gas rebate credit cards that they found to have strong incentive and bonus programs, ExxonMobil, Shell, and British Petroleum (BP). CBS also mentions the advantages of generic MasterCard and Visa logo credit cards which feature cash-back incentives, for consumers who don’t wish to be tied down to a single brand of gasoline.
How much can I save using a gasoline credit card?
How much you save is going to vary depending on which card you use, the terms of your credit card holder agreement and the amount you spend using a particular credit card.
Some gasoline cards offer as much as four or five cent discounts on each gallon of gas that you purchase.
An average consumer, who only drives 15,000 miles per year in a vehicle that is rated at an average of 30 miles per gallon, consumes 500 gallons of gas per year. A four cent per gallon discount amounts to $20 over the course of a year, while a nickel a gallon will save the average motorist $25.
Other credit cards offer more sizable discounts on gas purchases. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, consumers can save up to 5% of their fuel costs with certain credit cards.
At $4 per gallon, a 5% savings amounts to $.20 per gallon or $200 annually for a family that consumes 1000 gallons of gasoline during the year. That certainly makes shopping with a gasoline rewards credit card worthwhile!
In many cases, the credit card issuer will offer double or even triple points or cash back rewards for everyday purchases such as groceries or gasoline, saving consumers hundreds of dollars each year!