The average US household spends over $2,000 on gas each year. Here's how many points that translates to with 3 popular credit cards
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- According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average US household spent more than $2,000 on gas between 2017 and 2018.
- That's a considerable expense, and it's one you can maximize with rewards credit cards that earn bonus points at gas stations
- With just over $2,000 in annual gas purchases, you can rack up points, miles, or cash back with cards like the American Express® Business Gold Card, the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, and the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa.
If there's one thing I miss about driving a gas engine car, it's the bonus points I earned from my rewards credit cards. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey, the average American household spent $2,055 on gas between 2017 and 2018.
That's a pretty big expense for most people - and one that should undoubtedly be maximized for a big return in rewards.
Here are three popular credit cards offering bonus points on gas, and what those rewards translate to based on a year of gas purchases.
Earning rate on gas purchases: 6 points per dollar at US gas stations
Annual fee: $95
With an earning rate of 6 points per dollar spent at US gas stations, the Hilton Honors Surpass Card is a great option for gas purchases. On $2,055 in purchases, cardholders would earn 12,330 points.
Considering that free nights at Hilton hotels start at 5,000 points, that's a solid return on spending. Hilton Honors is one of the best hotel rewards programs in terms of earning free nights via paid stays and credit card spending. The Hilton Honors Surpass card is an extra tool in your belt to help you score those free nights faster.
If you're wondering what kinds of hotels you can book with 12,330 miles, check out the Hilton Points Explorer. You can specify a point range and get results that can be filtered down by destination.
Earning rate on gas purchases: Up to 4 points per dollar
Annual fee: $295
The American Express Gold Business Card earns 4x points on your top two spending categories each month from the list below, on the first $150,000 spent each calendar year (then 1x). Gas stations are just one of several spending categories that qualify for 4 bonus points:
- Airfare purchased directly from airlines
- US purchases for advertising in select media (online, TV, radio)
- US purchases made directly from select technology providers of computer hardware, software, and cloud solutions
- US purchases at gas stations
- US purchases at restaurants
- US purchases for shipping
On $2,055 worth of spending, cardholders could earn 8,220 Amex Membership Rewards points. Membership Rewards transfer to more than 20 travel partners, including British Airways, Delta, Hilton, and Marriott.
At the moment, American Express is offering a 40% transfer bonus on Avios, the rewards currency of British Airways, Iberia, and Aer Lingus. So instead of 8,220 points you'd end up with 11,508 Avios. These rewards are very useful for short-haul flights, which start at just 4,500 Avios each way.
PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa
Earning rate on gas purchases: 5 points per dollar
Annual fee: None
The PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Signature Card is gaining a lot of popularity thanks to generous category bonuses like 3 points per dollar at grocery stores and 5 points per dollar on gas.
Each point you earn with the PenFed Platinum card is worth about 0.85 cents, so the 5x points earned on gas is equivalent to 4.25% cash back. That's about $87 worth of rewards on $2,055 of gas spending.
The best card to use at gas stations
The best card for gas spending depends on a variety of factors, including your travel goals and general spending patterns.
If you're a Hilton loyalist who wants to earn free nights faster, the Hilton Honors Surpass Card's 6x point bonus at US gas stations is the way to go. The American Express Business Gold Card is a great option for those who qualify for a small business card and want to earn flexible rewards. The $150,000 annual limitation on the 4x spending categories is beyond generous but also not something most people will take advantage of.
Finally, for those looking for straightforward rewards that you don't have to transfer to different travel partners, the 5 points (or 4.25% cash back) from the Penfed Platinum Rewards Visa is the best option for maximizing gas spending. The rewards earned at 4.25% are substantial, and the card has no annual fee.
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