5 Best Credit Cards for Gas Rewards

BOSTON (TheStreet) -- The average U.S. household spends some $3,000 a year on gasoline, but you can save roughly the equivalent of one month's fuel bill by simply paying with one of the five credit cards below.

"You can cut 6% or 7% on your gas bill by [using the best cards]. That's almost like getting a month of gasoline for free," saysOdysseas Papadimitriou of credit-card rater CardHub, which recently named 2014's Best Gas Credit Cards.

CardHub compared terms on more than 1,000 credit cards to see which offered the best "cash-back" rewards for gas purchases.

The best accounts pay out as much as 50 cents per gallon for certain fuel purchases -- way more than the 1% cash back you often get with run-of-the-mill credit cards.

But Papadimitriou says consumers should consider their individual buying habits before deciding which card to get.

For instance, he says people who generally buy gas at the same station might do well with a card that's tied to specific chain, as those accounts frequently offer particularly generous rebates, while consumers who fill up at the closest station whenever they need gas could do better with "generic" cards offering decent cash back no matter where they go.

Also see: Here Are the Best Days of the Week to Buy Gas

"If you're not consistent about which gas station you go to, don't count on changing your habits," Papadimitriou says.

Read on to check out the accounts CardHub believes offer the best cash-back deals for gas purchases. Cards are in alphabetical order.

Blue Cash Preferred American Express Card

The Blue Cash Preferred American Express is one of three generic credit cards CardHub finds offers exceptionally generous fuel-related rewards.

You'll get 3% back on gas purchases other than those made at stations tied to warehouse clubs, superstores and supermarkets, and you'll get impressive rebates on non-fuel spending as well.

For instance, the card pays 6% cash back on the first $6,000 you spend each year at most major supermarket chains. Cardholders will also get 3% rebates on goods bought at select major department stores, plus 1% cash back on all other purchases.

The Blue Cash Preferred card also offers 0% financing on purchases and balance transfers made during your first 15 months of membership, plus some great travel-related services. For example, there's a free roadside assistance hotline that will connect you with (but not pay for) towing and locksmith services.

The card does carry a $75 annual fee, but you'll get $150 cash back -- enough to cover two years of membership -- if you charge $1,000 of eligible purchases within 90 days of opening an account.

Chevron and Texaco Visa Card

Buy gas at any of Chevron or Texaco's roughly 9,000 U.S. outlets with this card and you'll get as much as 20 cents a gallon cash back to use on future fuel purchases at the two chains.

You'll get an automatic 10-cent-a-gallon credit during your account's first 60 days if you sign up by Sept. 30. Thereafter, you'll enjoy 10-cent-per-gallon rebates in any month you spend more than $300 on non-gas purchases, or 20 cents per gallon when your non-fuel charges exceed $1,000 a month.

Also see: 10 Places You Can Always Find Cheap Gas

There's no annual fee, but the card caps your rewards at $300 a year and there's no cash back on anything other than Chevron or Texaco fuel purchases.

Also, unused reward points expire after six months.

Marathon Visa Card

Use this card at any of Marathon's roughly 5,300 U.S. stations and you'll get a 25-cent-per-gallon gas rebate when you put at least $1,000 a month on the card for anything -- not just your Marathon purchases.

You'll also get up to 15 cents per gallon back during months you spend $500 to $999.99 using the card, or 5 cents per gallon when you charge less than $500 over 30 days.

There's no annual fee and no yearly limit to how much cash back you'll get -- in fact, you'll earn double gas rebates during your first 90 days as a customer if you enroll by Sept. 30.

On the downside, you won't get any cash back for your non-Marathon purchases, while rebates come in the form of $25 Marathon gift cards that you can only use at the chain. Marathon also calculates your rebates using a complicated formula that takes average U.S. retail gas prices into account, so you might end up getting less cash back per gallon than the advertised amounts.

PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Credit Card

Another winner among generic credit cards, the Pentagon Federal Credit Union Platinum Rewards Visa pays you the equivalent of a roughly 4% rebate on gas purchases at any station as long as you pay at the pump.

You'll also get approximately 2.4% back on any grocery-store charges and a 0.8% rebate on all other purchases. Best of all, there's no annual limit to how much back you'll receive, nor any annual fee for using card.

That said, the PenFed card doesn't technically pay "cash" back. Instead, each purchase will earn you a variable amount of "points" that you redeem for Visa gift cards or other goods and services. 

Two other drawbacks: You'll have to pay $15 to join the Pentagon Federal Credit Union (which is open to anyone) and must pay $1 for each printed monthly statement. (Electronic statements are free.)

TrueEarnings Costco American Express card

This is a generic gas-rewards card in the sense that you can use it to fuel up at most chains and get a rebate. But it's open only to Costco members.

Use the card to buy gas at Costco or any other qualified fuel seller and you'll get 3% back on the first $4,000 of gasoline per year, then 1% thereafter.

Cardholders will also earn 2% rebates on restaurants and eligible travel purchases such as airline tickets, as well as 1% back on everything else.

There's no annual fee for the card as long as you belong to Costco, and you'll get 0% financing for six months on anything you charge during that period. Card members get the same free travel services the Blue Cash Preferred American Express Card offers.

But read the fine print and you'll see that you won't earn the high gas rebates on fuel bought at superstores, supermarkets, convenience stores or non-Costco warehouse clubs.

You'll also get your rewards in the form of an "annual reward coupon" with your February bill, can only use at Costco and must redeem by the following Aug. 31.

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