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Gas Cards

Gas cards are a convenient way of purchasing gas without resorting to an actual credit card.

A prepaid gas card is a great gift idea for young drivers. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
A prepaid gas card is a great gift idea for young drivers.

Gas Cards

Gas cards can be used to purchase gasoline or diesel fuel in lieu of traditional credit cards, debit cards, checks or cash. They allow the convenience of pay-at-the pump purchasing, which is faster as well as safer for parents with kids in the car. Gas cards can have a prepaid balance or be associated with a debit or credit account. They are available to the general public or purchased by companies that pay for employees' fuel for business purposes. Gas cards can simplify transportation expenses for budget-conscious consumers, drivers of company-owned vehicles and professionals within the transportation industry. They are available for purchase at gas stations and online.

Prepaid Gas Cards

As the name suggests, prepaid gas cards are purchased for a set dollar amount. The card can then be used to purchase gasoline or diesel fuel. Some prepaid cards are sold at incremental price points, such as $10, $25 or $50. Others do not have a preset value and can be loaded and reloaded with any dollar amount at participating gas stations. Prepaid gas cards can be used to help teenagers limit their gas expenditures and make great gifts for people on the go.

Prepaid Texaco and Chevron gas cards can be used interchangeably at both Texaco and Chevron gas stations. They charge no additional fees, have no expiration and can be redeemed at nearly 10,000 stations located in the United States.

Gas Debit Cards

Debit gas cards are associated with an account that funds purchases made with the card. Users deposit funds into the account before the card can be used. Debit gas cards are generally capped so the user cannot spend more than the amount of deposit. Like traditional checking accounts, debit gas card accounts sometimes charge maintenance fees or have a minimum balance required. Some debit gas cards can be linked to existing household or business bank accounts, while others require users to open accounts used exclusively to fund the card.

Debit gas cards are frequently used for commercial fuel accounts due to their myriad services and highly customizable nature. Expediting companies, for example, often use these types of gas cards to obtain fleet discounts and to enable drivers to fuel their vehicles without carrying large sums of cash.

The cards incur monthly billing statements and usually offer online account maintenance that can set specific limits on purchases, available shopping times, cash advances and more by individual card, vehicle or driver. Customizable reports show data in numerous ways, as a means of tracking driver and vehicle performance and travel expenses. In addition, the cards can assist in controlling expenditures, funding repairs, executing payroll and other cash advances for drivers. Even owner operators with a single vehicle and no employees can obtain fleet discounts and benefits through the use of debit gas card programs.

Gas Credit Cards

Another type of gas card is linked to a credit account. This type of gas card operates as a credit card that can be limited to fuel purchases or used as a traditional credit card. The Shell gas card through Citibank has no annual fee, gives ATM access and can be used at thousands of Shell stations. The Citgo MasterCard through Citbank has no annual fee, but has the purchasing power of a traditional MasterCard. The Platinum Select Citgo card earns a rebate on gas purchases each month. The Chase PerfectCard can be used at any gas station, earns a rebate as a percentage of gas purchases and also has no annual fee.

These types of gas cards commonly charge interest based on a users credit rating, assign administrative fees and penalties for late payments. As with any credit card, consumers should comparison shop looking beyond teaser rates to read and fully understand the terms and conditions of each potential card. The user is generally billed on a monthly basis. These billing statements provide as a convenient record of fuel and other travel expenses for tax and accounting records.

Advantages of Gas Credit Cards

Gas credit cards can offer several advantages over other forms of payment and even over other types of gas cards. Some examples include:

  • Limited (or no) liability on fraudulent purchases
  • Discounts, rebates or points redeemable for products or travel miles may be available
  • Online account information can show transaction details and available balance during non-business hours
  • Easy tracking of gas expenditures
  • Emergency convenience services, such as roadside assistance, are often available

Gas credit cards can offer a viable solution for fuel purchases through convenience, discounts and additional services that provide value to drivers.

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