Credit cards can help relieve gas pain?
Last week, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. unveiled a promotion that allows customers to save 10 cents a gallon on fuel, gas and diesel at participating Walmart stores in 18 states. The offer is already up and running, and is due to continue until the end of September. Stephen Quinn, Wal-Mart’s chief marketing officer, explained in a statement:
Our customers have told us that high gas prices are a top budget concern, nearly as large an expense to their households as food and groceries. We listen to our customers and because we know they are feeling squeezed by gas prices, we’re implementing this gas Rollback to help them save, especially during high travel summer months.
Credit card use obligatory
It’s almost certainly purely by chance that the company’s attempt to “help” its customers coincides with its own interests. On Sunday, The New York Times reported the latest data from MasterCard Advisors’ gas index. These show that many consumers are driving less frequently at weekends, the very time when retailers most want their stores to be full. So Walmart’s promotion (and those of other stores that are discounting gas) may not be solely altruistic.
Some of them are also not without strings. The Walmart store savings, for example, are only available when the gas is paid for using one of the company’s own branded prepaid, gift or credit cards. And, as the Times pointed out, these involve their own costs to consumers. Walmart credit cards, for instance, currently charge 22.9 percent annual percentage rate (APR) on balances carried forward, according the the newspaper. And that doesn’t compare well with many others; IndexCreditCards.com’s credit card rates monitor says that the average APR across all cards is 16.76 percent at the time of writing.
Credit card use and gas savings
So there may be better deals out there for those looking to make savings on gas purchases. MasterCard Advisors reckons that toward the end of last month the national average for gas prices was $3.62 a gallon. So a 10-cent discount on that would be just over 2.75 percent.
Scroll down IndexCreditCards.com’s list of gas credit cards, and you’ll quickly spot many that offer pump rewards worth 3, 4 or even 5 percent. Some of these are co-branded with one or another oil company, and you often only receive that level of reward when you fill up at a similarly branded gas station, although you can usually use the card (with more modest or zero rewards) for any purchases at any MasterCard or Visa merchant.
Credit card rewards and gas
But others are everyday rewards cards with particularly generous bonus rewards for gas purchases. One of the best of these at the moment is the PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards Visa® Card.
Credit card offers and comparison shopping
Of course, there are other cards available that might suit you better. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to compare different credit card offers to find the one that suits you best.
Disclaimer:The information in this article is believed to be accurate as of the date it was written. Please keep in mind that credit card offers change frequently. Therefore, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information in this article. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. See the online credit card application for full terms and conditions on offers and rewards. Please verify all terms and conditions of any credit card prior to applying.
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