If you’re attempting to build credit from scratch, a gas credit card can help. That’s because, similar to other types of credit cards, gas credit cards report your payments to the three major credit reporting bureaus. Further, gas cards are good for building credit because they tend to be easier to get approved for than other types of cards.
On top of that, a gas credit card can allow you to save on gas by earning discounts and fuel credits when you fill up your tank and use your card to pay for transactions. Here’s all you need to know about gas credit cards, including how to get a gas card to build credit.
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Understanding Gas Credit Cards and How They Work
A gas credit card works similarly as other types of credit cards in that it offers access to a revolving line of credit. In other words, you have a credit limit that’s set ahead of time. You can borrow up to that limit, and then repay the debt over time through monthly payments. If you carry a balance from month to month, you’ll pay interest.
There are two main types of gas credit cards:
• Gas station co-branded credit cards: Also known as a single-purpose or closed-loop card, a gas station co-branded credit card is a card that you can only use to make purchases from a single company. In this case, you could only use the card when you pump gas from a particular gas or oil company, which the card will usually bear the logo of.
• General-purpose gas credit cards: A traditional gas credit card can be used when you fill up at any gas station, rather than only with one particular brand — marking the difference between gas cards vs. gas station credit cards.
As mentioned, gas credit cards can be a good way to build credit when you’re starting from scratch. Keep in mind that the best rates, terms, and rewards offerings generally are reserved for consumers with strong credit. That being said, some gas cards are easier to get approved for, especially those from a particular oil company or brand.
Another benefit of gas credit cards is that they can offer discounts per gallon or an introductory promotional period where you can receive additional discounts at the pump. For instance, a co-branded gas credit card might offer 30 cents back on each gallon for the first two months after you open an account, and then 10 cents back per gallon after that.
Some general-purpose gas credit cards might also feature rewards, like cash back on everyday purchases up to a certain amount per year.
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Tips for Building Credit with a Gas Credit Card
Are you wondering, does a gas card build credit? The answer is yes. Because gas credit cards report your activity and payment history to the three major consumer credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — using one can be a good way to help you establish credit when you’re starting out on your credit journey.
For a gas card to build credit, however, you’ll need to stick to the following credit best practices.
Choose a Card Carefully
If you decide to open a gas credit card, carefully review the terms, rates, and fees. Gas credit cards typically have high interest rates compared to other types of cards, so if you anticipate carrying a balance, you could end up paying a pretty penny on interest charges.
While many gas credit cards don’t carry an annual fee, you might get hit with late fees, balance transfer fees, and returned payment fees. Make sure you’re aware of what fees a gas credit card may charge so you can avoid them.
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Pay the Full Balance Each Month
Your payment history makes up the bulk of your FICO credit score — 35%, to be exact. As such, it’s important to make your payments on time, each and every month.
And if possible, you might also aim to pay off your balance in full each month, which will allow you to avoid paying interest on your gas credit card. To do this, set a limit for how much you want to spend on your gas credit card each month and stick to it.
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Don’t Spend Up to the Credit Limit
Another factor that influences your credit score is your credit utilization, which is how much of your overall credit limit you’re currently using. It’s generally suggested to keep this ratio at no more than 30% to avoid adverse effects to your credit score. If you were to spend up to your credit limit, that would likely drive up your credit utilization well about that recommended threshold.
Keep Track of Your Credit Score
Monitoring your credit score can help you pinpoint behaviors that can move your credit score up or down, as well as notice any red flags. By keeping an eye on your credit, you can better make adjustments to your habits and spending to ensure you’re making progress on building your credit score.
You can keep track of your credit score in a handful of ways, including by signing up for a free credit monitoring service or possibly through your credit card issuer. For instance, the cash-back rewards credit card that SoFi offers provides free credit score monitoring to cardholders.
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Advantages of Building Credit With Gas Cards
Gas cards absolutely can be good for building credit, and here are the benefits of using one to do so:
• Savings on gas: A major perk — and the one that is most apparent — is that you can receive discounts at the pump by using a gas credit card.
• Potentially easier approval: A gas credit card can have easier approval requirements than other types of cards, such as rewards credit cards. This can make it easier to get credit, and therefore start building your credit.
• Rewards and sign-up bonuses: Gas credit cards might offer rewards, perhaps just on your spending at the pump or more generally across purchases, depending on the type of gas credit card. Some gas credit cards offer a sign-up bonus if you meet a minimum spending requirement within the first few months.
Drawbacks of Building Credit With Gas Cards
There are downsides to using gas cards to build credit as well, including:
• Potentially restricted use: If you get approved for a credit card that you can only use when you fill up at a gas station from a single gas or oil company, it might take you a bit more work and planning to use your card. That being said, there are some more general use gas cards available.
• Higher interest rates: If you’re building your credit from scratch and are approved for a card with less stringent financial or credit criteria, this can mean higher interest rates and less generous or attractive card perks.
• Limits on earnings and rewards programs: While some gas cards do offer rewards, they’re usually not as robust as they would be with other types of credit cards. Plus, many gas cards have a cap on how much you can earn in rewards in a given year.
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A gas credit card could be a strong option if you are looking for a credit card with easier approval requirements to take a step toward building credit. Before deciding, consider the advantages and drawbacks of getting a gas card to build credit.
Another option might be a general rewards card, like the SoFi credit card. This way, you won’t be restricted on where you can use your credit card. Plus, the SoFi credit card offers unlimited cash-back rewards on all eligible purchases, among other perks.
The SoFi Credit Card offers unlimited 2% cash back on all eligible purchases. There are no spending categories or reward caps to worry about.1
Are gas cards worth it?
Gas cards can be worth it if you are looking for a credit card with less stringent approval criteria and are trying to establish credit. Many don’t have annual fees, so if you’re able to pay the balance in full each month, it could be worth opening. Plus, you might be able to save at the pump.
Are gas cards good for building credit?
Gas cards can be good for building credit as they do report your activity and payment history to the credit bureaus. However, in order for them to help with your credit, you must maintain responsible credit habits, like making on-time payments and maintaining a reasonable credit utilization ratio.
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Is it better to use a fuel card or a credit card?
It depends on what you typically use your credit card for, as well as what cards you’re able to get approved for. If you would like a card that you can use only for gas and would like to rack up gas savings, then a fuel could be a good fit. Another type of credit card, such as a cash-back or travel rewards credit card, could offer you different perks. However, they might be harder to get approved for.
Do gas cards save you money?
Gas credit cards can shave a few dollars at the gas pump in the way of discounts and promotions. Some cards offer cash-back rewards, usually up to a certain amount per year.
Photo credit: iStock/Talaj
1Members earn 2 rewards points for every dollar spent on purchases. No points will be earned with respect to reversed transactions, returned purchases, or other similar transactions. When you elect to redeem rewards points as cash deposited into your SoFi Checking and Savings account, as a statement credit to a SoFi Credit Card account, as fractional shares into your SoFi Invest account, or as a payment toward your SoFi Personal Loan or Student Loan Refinance, your rewards points will redeem at a rate of 1 cent per point. For more details please visit the Rewards page. Brokerage and Active investing products offered through SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A.
1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.
The SoFi Credit Card is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A. pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.
Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.