The national average gas price at the beginning of June hit $2.75 per gallon according to AAA, which is the highest price of the year. This new peak is coming after gas prices bottomed out earlier this year and have now started to rebound along with oil prices and the summer driving season. That said, while gas prices are much higher now, drivers are expected to enjoy the cheapest summertime gas prices since 2009. Still, why not save even more at the pump by filling up using a credit card with great gas purchase perks. Here are five of the best gas credit cards for the summer driving season as these offer the most cash back, or savings per gallon, on gasoline purchases.
TrueEarnings Card from Costco and American Express
Costco members that apply for the TrueEarnings Card by American Express can enjoy 3% cash back on purchases at U.S. gas stations, including Costco stations. Drivers can earn that 3% for up to $4,000 worth of purchases after which the cash back earnings drop to 1%. Further, the card also offers 2% cash back on eligible travel purchases, including at Costco, and 2% cash back at U.S. restaurants as well as 1% cash back on everything else, including purchases at Costco. However, there are a couple caveats here as the card does require a Costco membership, which starts at $55 per year, and the cash back comes in the form of a once-a-year voucher that's only good for purchases in Costco stores. Further, Costco and American Express are parting ways with the partnership set to expire on March 31, 2016, which could lead to changes in this card's gas rebates. Still, saving 3% on gas purchases through next spring isn't a bad option for current or prospective Costco members.
Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express
American Express also offers another one of the best gas credit cards with its Blue Cash Preferred Card. This card offers 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and 3% cash back at select U.S. department stores. In addition to that, the card offers a very generous 6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets and 1% cash back on everything else. However, there is a cost for all this cash back as this card comes with a $75 annual fee. Further, the cash back on supermarkets is limited to $6,000 in purchases each year, but that's still up to $360 in cash back just at the supermarket, which more than offsets the annual fee.
BankAmericard Cash Rewards credit card
For consumers looking to avoid paying annual fees, but still save 3% on gas purchases, the BankAmericard Cash Rewards credit card by Bank of America is a great all around rewards card. The card offers 2% cash back at grocery stores and 3% cash back on gas for the first $1,500 in combined grocery store and gas purchases each quarter. While it might seem somewhat limiting, the average American only spends $3,977 on groceries and $1,962 at the pump, or a combined $5,539 per year, which is just under the $6,000 annual limit. In other words, by using this card the average family could save roughly $140 per year just on their regular purchases. On top of that the card offers 1% cash back on all other purchases and customers can get an additional 10% bonus every time they redeem their cash back into a Bank of America checking or saving account.
PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards Visa Card
The Pentagon Federal Credit Union offers a great cash card for its members. The PenFed Credit Union is for U.S. armed forces service members and their families, but membership can be extended to those that join the National Military Families Association or Voices for American's Troops, both of which have small one-time donations to join in order to become eligible for PenFed membership.
The card itself offers unlimited 3% or 5% cash back on gasoline purchases. However, to earn the 5% cash back a cardholder must enroll in one of PenFed's other financial service products such as having a checking account with a minimum deposit. Further, the card only offers the cash back on gas purchases. However, it is a great card for military families or someone that drives a lot.
Big oil branded cards
Another option is to sign up for a credit card at one of the big oil branded gas stations. For example, BP has a Chase Visa Card that offers $0.25 cents off per gallon for each $100 in gasoline purchases made within the first 60 days at a BP station. The savings, however, drop to $0.15 off per gallon for purchases made after the first two months. ExxonMobil, Shell, and Chevron offer similar per gallon savings for using their branded cards at their gas stations. Each card has slightly different perks and some have annual fees, but the choice comes down to personal preference. The biggest drawback is that these cards limit the holder to cash back at branded stations, however, branded cards are a great option for a family planning a long road trip this summer as branded stations are usually easy to find right off the highway. Not only that, but a family can even make an adventure out of saving some money on gasoline by plotting their course to hit all the big oil branded gas stations for their chosen card.
Summer gas prices might be the cheapest they've been in years, but that doesn't mean consumers should still pay full price at the pump. Using a credit card that offers cash rewards on gasoline purchases could save a driver a bundle this summer. In many cases a consumer can end up saving what equates to a couple of fill-ups over the course of a year, which could mean the extra driving they do on a summer road trip won't end up costing their wallet any extra.
Matt DiLallo owns shares of Visa. The Motley Fool recommends American Express, Bank of America, Chevron, Costco Wholesale, and Visa. His wife also has a TrueEarnings Card from Costco and American Express, which neither of them ever remember to actually use to buy gas. The Motley Fool owns shares of Bank of America, Costco Wholesale, ExxonMobil, and Visa. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.