One of the most important commodities used by individuals trying to simply earn a living is gasoline. No commodity is more dependent on so many economic or political factors that trickle down to every consumer’s wallet than gasoline. Whether it is civil or political instability in the Middle East, China or Venezuela, America’s dependence on foreign oil resources weighs heavily on the typical consumer, and seriously affecting the flexibility of already maxed-out budgets. Nowhere is the volatility of the of the oil markets around the world more visible than at the neighborhood gasoline pump.
One vital method of taking the impact out of ever-rising energy costs is to make use of a gas credit card, and they have been steadily increasing in popularity in recent years. Millions of cash-strapped consumers are now taking advantage of these cards, and getting significant rewards for doing so in the process. Beginning back in 1992, Shell started the idea with a 3% cash back rewards card. It brought in so much consumer loyalty that Shell increased the reward to 5%, with many competitors quickly following suit with their own gas reward cards. Presently, there are all kinds of gas credit cards available, including even banks offering credit cards to pay for any type or brand of gasoline, and getting cash back and other rewards as well (Read: Getting a Cash Back Credit Card? 3 Bits of Advice).
Price at the Pump versus the APR
Regardless of the type of reward or perk any gas credit card happens to offer as an inducement or incentive, the primary concern for any consumer is of course the interest rate, or APR. The interest rate on gas credit cards can be as high as 23.99% to 26.99%. Occasionally, some issuers charge a ‘minimum interest’ fee, from 1$ to $2.99, if the balance on the account drops below a certain level, so it is very prudent to check the details of the card program closely. If a consumer often carries a balance on their account, these higher interest rates will undoubtedly eliminate whatever saving they may have accrued. However, if they pay the entire balance in full and on time every month, then the APR will have little affect on those savings, while having great affect on the cost of transportation.
Fees, Restrictions and Limitations
Check to see if the particular gas credit card requires an annual fee for its use, though most do not carry this stipulation. Again, pay close attention to the terms and conditions of the card and its reward limitations. If a yearly membership fee is required, evaluate whether the reward value allows the user to still come out ahead in terms of overall benefit, and make side-by-side comparisons between each gas credit card under consideration. Also examine if a gas credit card has any restriction or limitations on how many rewards can be earned in a given period of time. Some extend the reward benefits immediately, while others require a pre-set spending limit or minimum before the rewards can take effect.
Purchasing and Brand Flexibility
Other points of concern when evaluating the merits of any type of gas credit card are those that offer some flexibility in terms of discounts or reward points transferred to other competing brands of gasoline. Check to see if the card requirements extend to additional purchases like motor oil, wiper blades and so forth, and even the grocery purchases made in the convenience store section if the facility. Gas credit cards that offer discounts, cash back, and rewards on a wide variety of purchasing categories, including a broad assortment of different retailers beyond just gasoline are certainly the most beneficial types of card to consider. By carefully studying each gas credit card offer and making comparative evaluations, a consumer can effectively select the best option that suits their budget, spending habits, and driving patterns most conveniently, and affordably, regarding the specific gas credit card choice or rewards program. As long as the American consumer’s cash flow is tied to a fuel-gauge and the internal combustion engine, getting from point A to point B deserves all the rewards it can get from a convenient and flexible gas credit card.