Gas costs can be a hefty line item, especially for Canadians with a daily commute—and, even worse, it’s an expense largely out of our individual control. Using the right credit card when you fill up will earn you a return on your fuel expenses. But which card should you pick? The options can be boggling.
Credit cards vs. gas cards vs. rewards or points programs
You’ll be excused if your eyes cross just reading this subtitle. In fact, this is the most confusing aspect of choosing a gas card option, so let’s clear it up now.
Everyone knows what a credit card is. Chances are you have at least one in your wallet now. A gas card is a type of credit card that’s branded directly to one company like Petro-Canada or Shell, and allows you to collect points or rewards only at their pumps. Then there are credit cards associated with points programs, like Scotia Rewards, Air Miles and PC Optimum, which allow you to collect and redeem for a wide variety of rewards beyond just gas.
Although there are endless variations for how you can use these products in tandem, what you need to understand is that, in general, you can save and/or redeem more rewards by using “regular” credit cards in tandem with points programs than you can using a gas credit card. Let’s look at some of the best examples.
The best credit cards for gas purchases in Canada
- Meridian Visa Infinite Cash Back — Best overall card for gas purchases
- Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card — Best no-fee card for gas purchases
- Scotiabank Gold American Express — Best for turning gas purchases into points
Best overall card for gas purchases
Meridian Visa Infinite Cash Back
This Meridian product shows up on a lot of best-of lists—and for good reason. When it comes to rewards you can’t get more flexible than cash, and this card tops most cash back credit cards in Canada with an extremely competitive 4% back on grocery and gas purchases. Let’s say you spend around $450 on gas every month. At the regular 4% cash back rate, you’ll earn $18 per month, or $216 per year. That’s a pretty decent return, and it doesn’t even include your other non-fuel purchases.
- Annual fee: $99 (free for first year)
- Earn rate: 4% cash back on gas
- Additional benefits: Travel accident, emergency and medical insurance, trip interruption and delay protection, lost baggage insurance, rental car collision and damage protection, purchase protection, extended warranty
Best no-fee card for gas purchases
Some folks cannot tolerate paying an annual fee for a credit card, so no-fee products are always in demand. The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card takes top spot in this category because, unlike many no-fee cards, it offers cash rather than points. The Tangerine card rewards cardholders with 2% cash back on unlimited purchases made in two categories that include gas, as well as groceries, restaurants and drug stores. Opt to have your cash automatically deposited into a Tangerine savings account and receive 2% cash back in a third category. For those who want to monetize their fuel purchases without paying for the privilege, this no-frills card is a winner.
- Annual fee: $0
- Welcome bonus: Apply by October 31, 2019, for 4% cash back in three categories for three months, and transfer balances at a low promotional interest rate of 1.95% for six months
- Earn rate: 2% cash back on gas
- Additional benefits: Purchase assurance and extended warranty
Best card for turning gas purchases into points
If you’re looking to turn your fuel purchases into points, look no further than the Scotiabank Gold American Express. This product operates within the Scotia Rewards program, which allows collectors to redeem their points for travel rewards, merchandise, gift cards, or even against your credit card balance.
Cardholders earn 3 Scotia Rewards points on every $1 spent at eligible purchases including gas, public transit and streaming services, and 5 points per dollar on groceries, restaurants and entertainment. Double-dip with the gas points program of your choice and earn even more.
- Annual fee: $120
- Welcome bonus: 30,000 points with your first $1,000 in purchases in the first three months (25,000 when you charge $1,000 to your card in the first 3 months and an additional 5,000 when you spend $10,000 in the first year)
- Earn rate: 3 Scotia Rewards points for every $1 spent on gas
- Additional benefits: No foreign transaction fees, travel emergency medical, trip cancellation, flight delay, lost baggage, and accident insurance; rental car collision protection; hotel or motel burglary insurance; purchase protection and extended warranty; complimentary concierge service; VIP airport lounge access with Priority Pass
MORE ON CANADA’S BEST CREDIT CARDS:
- Overall Best Credit Cards in Canada
- Best Rewards Credit Cards
- Best Cash Back Credit Cards
- Best Credit Cards for Travel Insurance