Pump patrol: Are gas credit cards, club memberships worth it?

Cards that offer a percentage off your purchase can mean more savings

SAN ANTONIO – With gas prices still high, it pays to be a savvy fuel shopper. But is getting a gas credit card or joining a warehouse club worth it?

“Many cards issued by gas stations or oil companies pay you back a few cents per gallon of gas, like 5 cents or 10 cents, rather than a percentage of your purchase. So, when gas prices are moving up from $3 to $4 or $5, that benefit is worth a lot less,” said Consumer Reports’ Money Editor Penny Wang.

Instead, she recommends looking for a credit card with no annual fee that offers rewards, like 5% cash back on gas purchases.

Although many gas stations offer a lower price if you pay with cash instead of using a card, the card’s cash-back reward could actually be a better deal.

One example is the Citi Custom Cash Card, which gives you 5% cash back on your top spending category each billing cycle — for up to $500 in purchases. That includes gas.

For example if you buy 16 gallons of gas at $3.40 per gallon, the total is $54.40. A five-cent per gallon discount would save you 80 cents. But 5% off would save you $2.72.

Other options are warehouse clubs, such as Sam’s Club or Costco, which offer their own credit cards that pay you back a percentage on your gas purchases.

If you do a lot of driving and think you’ll reach the card’s cap, consider using that card only when buying gas.

If you don’t belong to a warehouse club, now’s a good time to consider it. Their gas prices are typically among the lowest.

Monday morning in San Antonio, gas was posted at about $3.29 a gallon.

Those gas discounts alone may be worth the membership cost, although individual savings will vary depending on mileage.

To max out your discounts, try to combine them with other rewards programs whenever you can. Many gas brands have their own apps that offer a few cents off per gallon, and they don’t require a gas-branded credit card. So you can use your rewards credit card to pay for your gas instead.

Apps such as Trunow and Get Upside can also save you 25 cents a gallon. You take a picture of your receipt, load it to the app, and you get cash back.

About the Author

Marilyn Moritz is an award-winning journalist dedicated to digging up information that can make people’s lives a little bit better. As KSAT’S 12 On Your Side Consumer reporter, she focuses on exposing scams and dangerous products and helping people save money.

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