How to Get the Most Out of a Fuel Credit Card
Written by Roland Bleyer and posted on April 27, 2011
You’ve probably heard of fuel credit cards — rewards credit cards where the rewards are focused on petrol savings. One example is the Citibank BP credit card, where you can save 5% on petrol and other purchases made at any BP location (with lesser rewards when you use your card elsewhere).
Do you have a fuel credit card? Should you have a fuel credit card? Or would you be better off with a different type of rewards credit card? Let’s take a look at some factors to consider, and how to get the most out of fuel credit cards should you choose to use one.
Is a Fuel Credit Card Right for You?
It’s easy to get sucked into the attractive offers from fuel credit cards. The percentage you’ll save is often higher than advertised rewards percentages for something like a cash back credit card. But the rewards only apply to limited purchases. In the end, you have to look beyond those advertised offers and crunch some numbers.
First you have the easy comparisons — annual fees and purchase interest rates. Those are more likely to affect you on a regular basis than the amount you earn back on fuel or other purchases.
Once you’ve found comparable offers in those two areas, you need to compare the rewards savings for you personally. And the best way to do that is to look at your spending habits over the last several months. Let’s compare the 5% BP card offer (with 0.5% back on other purchases) with a 1% cash back offer on all purchases, like the current offer from the Bankwest Lite credit card.
For the case of our example, let’s say you spend approximately $200 per month on petrol and charge a total of approximately $3500 per month to your card. With the fuel card you would save a total of $26.50. With the other rewards card you would save $35. For the fuel credit card to be a good deal in this case, you would have to charge less than $2650 each month on your credit card (with that same $200 per month spent on petrol).
Crunch your own numbers using past statements as a guide and see whether or not a fuel credit card would really save you enough money to make it worthwhile.
Getting the Most Out of Your Fuel Credit Card
If you do decide to get a fuel credit card, other than crunching the numbers here’s another important thing to keep in mind.
Don’t choose a fuel credit card that requires you to use petrol stations you don’t normally use. If you have to go out of your way to make your purchases, you’re wasting fuel in an effort to save money spent on it. It doesn’t make sense. You also have no guarantee that you won’t fall back into the habit of visiting stations closer to home or on your usual commute. Habits can be hard to break. And besides, a cash back credit card will let you at least save something on your regular fuel purchases, even if your typical petrol station doesn’t have a credit card rewards programme of its own.
About the author
Roland has years of experience in the financial industry and is the founder of the Credit World group. He has overseen Credit World grow to become the number one reseller of retail banking products.
He is a regular contributor to this blog and and aims to help people make the most of their money and help the consumer find the best possible product. Roland dedicates his time writing finance articles to provide people with information they need. You can find him on Google+ & twitter