While average national gas prices can vary, as of September 2018, each gallon cost about $2.85. For 547 gallons, at that price, each driver spends about $1,559 annually on fuel alone.
The cost of fueling up a vehicle often leads consumers to seek out gas rewards programs. Whether tied to a specific credit card or not, finding a great rewards option can significantly reduce your costs at the pump.
Shell Rewards is just one of many options available. But how do Shell Rewards measure up? Is the program better than other gas rewards credit cards? If you are wondering whether Shell Rewards is right for you, here’s what you need to know.
The Shell Rewards Program
The Shell gas rewards program, also known as “Fuel Rewards,” allows a variety of purchases to result in lower costs at the pump.
There are actually two ways to join the Shell Rewards program.
Shell Fuel Rewards Loyalty Program
First, you can simply become a regular member. When you use this approach, you get a Fuel Rewards card, not unlike the loyalty cards you may use at grocery stores.
When you head to a participating Shell station, you just swipe your Fuel Rewards card during your transaction (or enter a unique Alt ID on the pin pad). This allows the system to record your gas purchase, allowing you to acquire rewards points.
You also have the option of linking your existing debit or credit card to your Fuel Rewards account. Then, when you use that card at participating restaurants, online retailers, and other businesses, you get additional rewards. This means you don’t have to have a Shell Rewards credit card to be part of the Fuel Rewards program.
Shell Fuel Rewards Credit Cards
If you prefer to have a gas rewards credit card, there are also a new Shell Fuel Rewards Credit Cards available. This includes an option that works only at Shell locations (like a store credit card does) or a full-fledged card that works anywhere Mastercard is accepted.
On either option, you can save up to 10¢ per gallon when you fuel up. Plus, you can receive up to 10 percent in Shell rebates per year on your first $1,200 spent annually on non-fuel purchases.
If you opt for the Mastercard version, you also get more. You’ll receive 2 percent in Shell rebates for your first $10,000 in purchases in the dining and groceries category. Otherwise, you get a 1 percent rebate on every other qualifying purchase.
Rebates apply to your balance automatically, working as a credit in subsequent billing cycles.
Other Gas Rewards Credit Cards
The Marathon Credit Card starts at 5¢ per gallon. But, if you spend between $500 and $999 each month using the card, including for fuel purchases, that amount rises to 15¢. Cross the $1,000 spending mark every month, and you earn 25¢ per gallon in rewards.
With the Chevron/Texaco Techron Advantage Card, you can earn 3¢ per gallon as a fuel credit with each fill up at the beginning. However, if you make purchases with the card at places other than gas stations, that can increase to 10¢ or 20¢ per gallon, as long as you spend $300 or $1,000 each month in qualifying purchases, respectively.
There are other rewards credit cards that can also help you save, but most of them are cashback cards and not fuel rewards cards. This means you’ll usually earn cashback on qualifying gas purchases, but may not see any savings at the actual pump.
For example, the Bank of America Cash Rewards credit card provides 3 percent cash back on your first $2,500 of qualifying fuel/grocery/wholesale club purchases in each quarter. On the Wells Fargo Propel American Express card, gas station purchases get three times the points, which can result in some savings.
Should You Use Shell Rewards?
If you frequently use Shell stations, then the regular Fuel Rewards membership may be a smart move. At a minimum, it lets you generate rewards from your gas purchases, even if you don’t link a debit or credit card.
Whether the credit card option is right for you depends on your unique situation. The interest rate you secure is based on your creditworthiness, but may reach over 26 percent with the Shell cards. If you typically carry a balance, that level of an interest rate will wipe out any savings you experience at the pump pretty quickly. Even a $100 balance could cost you more than you save on gas, so proceed with caution.
However, that doesn’t mean other rewards cards will provide you with enough value either if you carry a balance.
For example, the Marathon card usually has an APR between 18 and 27 percent, which is also quite high. The Wells Fargo Propel comes in with an APR range of 14 to 27 percent, while Bank of America’s Cash Rewards card is only modestly better, at 14 to 25 percent.
Unless you aren’t likely to carry a balance, then you should probably opt for the regular Fuel Rewards account and avoid generating any new debt. That way, you won’t lose your savings at the pump to interest charges.
Do you use Shell Rewards? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.
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