Best Credit Cards For Gas Discounts 2017

Best credit cards for gas discounts

Although electric cars are on the rise, the majority of us car owners are still pumping gasoline into our vehicles and it continues to be a big line item in our monthly budgets.

We've been fortunate in recent years that prices have dipped under $1 per litre ... but prices have been steadily creeping up again even with the cost of crude oil being BELOW what it cost in 1974. That won't last forever!

Credit cards are one tool that can be used to get a sizeable discount on those gas purchases because many cards offer bonuses specifically aimed at gas purchases.

Here are the cards that will help keep your wallet happy:

American Express Gold Rewards Card (6.0% Return)

If you transfer your American Express Membership Rewards points 1:1 to either Aeroplan or Avios miles and redeem them for flights, you can expect up to a 5% return on spending for gas purchases.

Why?

Because Aeroplan miles are worth about 2.5 cents each. And this card gives you double points on gas purchases. Most other cards don't come close to a 2.5 cent point value, and if they do, they only give you 1 or 1.5 points per dollar spend instead of 2 like this card does.

It isn't cash, but a 5% return on spending is hard to ignore and the 25,000 points sign up bonus worth about $625 doesn't hurt either!

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Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite (4% Return)

This is one of the best cash back cards in Canada for many reasons - one of the biggest being that it gives you 4% cash back on gas. There is a cap on how much you can earn in a given year, but who spends $25,000 a year on gas anyway? You'd have to run a trucking company or own a super yacht for that! It comes with a $99 annual fee.

There is also the Scotia Momentum Visa ($39 fee - 2% on gas) and Scotia Momentum No Fee Visa (1% on gas) cards that have lower annual fees and lower rewards, but they both still offer a bonus for gas purchases. As long as you have a decent amount of spending, then the Infinite card more than makes up for the annual fee difference.

If you prefer CIBC over Scotiabank, they offer a very similar cash back card that also gives you 4% cash back on gas.

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TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite (4.5% Return)

The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite card has a 50% bonus on gas purchases meaning you'll earn 1.5 Aeroplan miles for every dollar you spend on the card. Following the same calculation I did with the American Express Gold Rewards Card, that works out to a 4.5% discount.

This same bonus applies to the Privilege edition of this card, but the annual fee is much higher at $399. CIBC also offers an Aeroplan Infinite credit card that is nearly identical.

I'm ranking the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite above this card simply because cash is so much better than Aeroplan miles even if it is a slightly worse return on spending.

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Scotiabank Gold American Express (4% Return)

Scotiabank's American Express cards are the only flexible travel cards that offer 4x points on gas purchases. That means you'll get a 4% return on your spending that you can use to pay for any travel purchase booked using the Scotia Rewards Travel Service at the same prices you'd get anywhere else.

It's also one of the few cards that gives you 4x points on dining and entertainment purchases as well as grocery stores. It comes with a sign up bonus that is worth a minimum of $200 in travel too.

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CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite (3.4% Return)

The Aventura Rewards system is a bit hard to figure out. Assuming you are going to redeem your points for air travel (the best value) we can approximate the value of points by saying that 35,000 points is worth $800. That's what a long haul flight in North America will probably cost you. This is assuming your flight actually costs $800 or more and it doesn't cost slightly less than 35,000 points (apparently some long haul flights only cost 25,000 points). We'll assume the $800 flights all cost 35,000 to make things simple.

You get 1 point per dollar spent on the card and 1.5 points at gas stations. When calculated, that works out to a return on spending of 3.4%.

Both the Gold and Infinite versions of the card sport a $120 annual fee and the same rewards structure. The differences between them mostly lies in their fringe perks.

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PC Financial World Elite Mastercard (~3% Return)

The PC Financial World Elite card is a bit different because it gives you an equivalent of a 3 cents per litre discount on gas purchases at Esso gas stations. The discount is rewarded as PC Points that can be redeemed for groceries and other merchandise at any Loblaws owned store where you can collect PC Points.

Right now 3 cents per litre is equal to roughly a 3% return, but it fluctuates slightly with the price of gas. The other advantage to this card is that in the western provinces, there are often additional gas discounts at PC affiliated gas stations up to 10 cents per litre but it varies by location.

There are also the regular and World editions of this card to consider, but they only give a 2 cents per litre discount, instead of the 3 offered by the World Elite.

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National Bank Ultramar MasterCard (2.5% Return)

This card is worth considering as a gas-specific credit card. It doesn't offer much value in the other purchases department, but for gasoline all you have to do to reach maximum reward value is spend more than $100/mth at Ultramar and more than $2,500 at Ultramar annually. That's works out to $208 in gas per month, which should be pretty easy for a lot of people.

If you manage to maximize the rewards, then your return on spending will be 2.5%.

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MBNA Smart Cash Mastercard (2-5% Return)

You get 2% cash back on gas purchases with this card. Sounds great until you realize that there is a $400 monthly combined cap on your gas and grocery spending after which your 2% bonus cash back rate drops to 1%. Most families will blow through that limit in no time mean your return will be somewhere between 1 and 2% on gas - not great.

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Canadian Tire Gas Advantage Mastercard (Up to 2.9%)

This card looks absolutely fantastic because you can get up to a 10¢/litre discount on all gas purchased at Canadian Tire in addition to other discounts you can get via Canadian Tire Money.

The price of gas is falling these days and the discount percentage gets larger as that happens. At today's prices for regular gas (roughly $1.10/L) that's an 9.1% discount. Holy smokes, sounds great right?

The fine print is that you have to spend a certain amount on your credit card each month to achieve the maximum reward. It's a reasonable $2000/mth - fine, we'll assume you can do that. The real problem is that you earn absolutely NO REWARDS on that $2000+ in spending. In addition, you are limited to $700 in gas at 10¢/litre off. After that your discount drops to 2¢/litre.

Sample Savings:

Say you manage to spend exactly $2000 on the card the previous month to qualify for the maximum discount, and then you manage to spend exactly $700 on gas this month so you buy all your gas at the maximum discount. Stated simply, this is the best case scenario - it could get much worse.

 

You'll save $63.63 on gas which we already know works out 9.1% of your gas spending. However, that's only 3.2% of your overall spending. That's still not bad, but it isn't great when you consider other credit cards that let you earn rewards on all your spending.

 

Say you ended up spending $3000 on the card last month and only bought $400 in gas. Now you've only saved $36.36 on $3000, which works out to a 1.21% return - drastically worse!

I'd only recommend this card for big gas spenders who are willing to juggle this card with others when they go above $2000 in spending in a given month. One perk is that this card doesn't have an annual fee and your purchases at Canadian Tire and Mark's Work Wearhouse are doubled when it comes to calculating your reward level.

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Canadian Tire Cash Advantage Mastercard (~2% Return)

This card has a tiered rewards system, which means it is frustrating to use and frustrating to do math on. For most people, they will be earning roughly 1% cash back on regular purchases, and 2% cash back at Canadian Tire (including Canadian Tire gas bars).

For spending above and beyond $24,000 annually, those numbers rise to 1.5% and 3%, but most people won't get there I don't think. I'll just take the easy route and say it's a 2% return on spending. If you only use the card to buy gas, you may have a hard time getting up to the higher earning tiers.

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Tangerine Money-Back Mastercard (2% Return)

The Tangerine Money-Back Mastercard allows YOU to choose up to 3 bonus spending categories where you can earn 2% cash back instead of the usual 0.5%. You are free to choose gas as one of your categories to boost it up to that 2% rate.

Another interesting feature of the card is that your bonus spending categories are not locked in. You can change them as your spending habits change to make sure you are always maximizing your bonus cash.

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Capital One Platinum Mastercard for Costco Members (2% Return)

The Capital One Platinum Mastercard exclusively for Costco members is no-fee card that gives you a 3% rebate on restaurants, 2% on gas, and 1% on all other purchases after $3000 in calendar year spending on the card. The first $3000 only pays 0.5% on regular purchases.

The cash back is paid out to you once a year in the form of a rebate coupon that can only be redeemed at a Costco warehouse for merchandise. You have to be an active Costco member to apply for this card as well as to redeem your reward, so keep this in mind if you're thinking of applying. Fortunately, it can double as your membership card so you only have to carry one card in your wallet.

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SimplyCash Card from American Express (1.25-5% Return)

The SimplyCash Cards from American Express doesn't have an ongoing bonus for gas purchases. But, it does give you 5% back for filling your tank during the first 6 months of card ownership. They do have a cap on the maximum cash back you can earn at the 5% rate as well - it's $250 or $5000 in spending. After your bonus runs out, you'll be earning 1.25% cash back on gas and all your other purchases. Honestly, this card is worth it for the bonus alone.

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American Express Air Miles Platinum Credit Card (1.05% Return)

This is the best Air Miles affiliated credit card right now, but it still doesn't offer amazing returns. You get 1 Air Miles for every $15 spent and 1 for every $10 spent at the pumps.

I used to value Air Miles at up to 30 cents each, but most Dream rewards with good value have been removed from their catalog so Air Miles Cash really makes the most sense now, except for potentially some air travel redemptions. Unfortunately, Air Miles air travel redemptions are too situational to be used reliably for valuation - even more so than Aeroplan miles. Therefore, each mile is worth only 10.5 cents.

With that valuation, it works out to a 1.05% return on spending.

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BMO Air Miles Mastercard (0.66%-0.88% Return)

These cards give you a 25% bonus, but only at Shell locations, so you need to make sure that's convenient and cheap for you before choosing one of these. The regular card earns you 1 Air Mile per $20 spent with no fee, while the World edition gets you 1 Air Mile per $15 spent. The 25% bonus is on top of that.

That means based on the previously mentioned value of an Air Mile, the World card will give you a return of 0.88% and the regular edition is 0.66%. Pretty much a waste of time.

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Canadian Tire Options Mastercard (Variable Return)

Canadian Tire has many raving fans and the Canadian Tire Options Mastercard has equally as many. It can be hard to understand why when it pays out rewards of less than 1% (even when they advertise them at 1%) in money that can only be spent at Canadian Tire. Most cash back cards will do better than that.

However, buying gas at Canadian Tire is already a pretty good deal and this card makes it easier and better:

  • First, it's the only credit card that can be used directly at Canadian Tire and their gas bars that still allows you to earn Canadian Tire Money. You can get around this with another credit card by using it to buy Canadian Tire gift cards first and then using them to purchase your gas, but that's a hassle.
  • Second, you always get the highest gas multiplier available automatically (no coupon required).
  • Third, your Canadian Tire Money gets stored right on the card instead of having to carry the phony bills around with you. That makes for super easy collection and redemption.
  • Fourth, you get exclusive offers both in-store and on gas. Sometimes there will be a higher gas multiplier exclusively for cardholders that no one else can get.

So, when you factor in all the reasons above, it can make sense to have this card just for buying gas at Canadian Tire if that is your usual spot to fill up. You'll save a lot of time and effort.

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What Credit Card Do You Use When You Buy Gas?

My go to card for gas purchases is the American Express Gold Rewards Card so I can transfer my points to Aeroplan in the hopes of achieving a 6% return or more. With the coming changes to Aeroplan in 2020 though, I am going to be keeping them as Membership Rewards points and possibly converting them to Avios or Starpoints instead.

What about you? Which card will you use?

Disclosure: You should know that HowToSaveMoney.ca receives a referral fee for some credit cards listed; however, our unbiased algorithm dictates the results of our credit card rankings. You can trust that our rankings are strictly independent of compensation; here’s a more detailed disclosure on how HTS makes money.

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Comments

Chris
Chris 's picture
We use our Target Red Card to get 5% off then buy the gas either at Petro Canada (using discounts with Petro Points) or we use the Sobeys/Superstore at Esso coupled with the gift cards from Target.
October 21, 2014 @ 5:17 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
That's a great point about using the Target card to secure a discount on gift cards. I'm writing a follow up article about how to save money using gift cards that will hopefully be published in the next few weeks. Great strategy!
October 21, 2014 @ 10:41 pm
John
John's picture
Using the Cdn Tire Options card still does not get as good a discount as their Gas Advantage card. I had a 14 x coupon and filled my car (60 l) and it was less than the 4.80 I would have gotten on Gas Advantage. The Options card is a lot less rewarding than it used to be. Most of my gas is much cheaper as I border cross every day for work.
October 21, 2014 @ 11:52 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
Ya, the options card is basically junk, especially considering you can get the gas discount using another better rewards card by buying Canadian Tire gift cards first with that, and then using the gift cards to buy gas + using the multiplier coupon. I'm still wary of the Gas Advantage though because you don't get any rewards on the $2000 monthly spending required to reach the max discount. You're lucky to be able to border cross every day and get cheaper gas and goods.
October 24, 2014 @ 9:02 am
Tony Alderton
Tony Alderton's picture
I use my TD Aeroplan Infinite card to buy gas. Plus I buy my gas at a Refuel station which then gives me a coupon for 2 cents a litre for use in Superstore or Independent Grocers.
October 29, 2014 @ 9:33 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
Good catch Tony! I'm not sure why I neglected to include the TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite as it gives a 1.5x bonus just like the CIBC Aeroplan cards. I'll have to update the list to include it. Thanks.
October 29, 2014 @ 10:47 am
moi
moi's picture
PC mastercard - 7.5 cents per litre, i.e., 6.2% return assuming 1.20 per litre of gas.
October 29, 2014 @ 12:51 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
I'm publishing an article at Million Dollar Journey that compares gas station rewards programs soon and I mention the PC MasterCard discount there. That discount is only offered in certain regions and the discount seems to vary as well. If you happen to check back, what region are you in and is the 7.5 cents in addition to what you would normally get if you paid with cash or is that just the total discount. At Superstore affiliated gas stations in my area you get 3.5 cents per litre no matter how you pay. I don't believe there is an additional discount for paying with PC Mastercard.
October 30, 2014 @ 11:04 am
MMS
MMS's picture
Fill up @ Costco is usually 6 - 7 cents below other gas stations. That's on top of whatever reward you get from your credit card.
October 31, 2014 @ 10:08 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
Excellent, thanks.
November 01, 2014 @ 4:50 pm
Bill
Bill's picture
If you play the Gas Advantage Mastercard right, you can get a lot more than 2.9%. First, it is free, and so are the associate cards. I have one, and my wife and married daughter are associates. Using July as an example, we spent $1095 on the card (the extra $.02 for going to $2000 isn't worth it) and by playing with the card, we actually got $902 in gas purchases. My calculations make that a 4.6% discount, with no annual fee.
October 31, 2014 @ 11:49 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
You're right, can't believe I missed that. Targeting the $1000 spending mark increases your possible return percentage a great deal and then giving secondary cards to multiple family members to use when they fill up on gas (but not necessarily for other spending) is a great way to increase the number of litres pumped! Thanks Bill!
November 01, 2014 @ 4:52 pm
Marpy
Marpy's picture

The thing about most purchases and especially gas is that you have to look at the overall cost including the credit card reward. When you look at it this way, its hard to beat Costco. The Card may only give you 2% cash back but Costco gas is consistently cheaper than the competition by 5 to 10 cents a liter. When you add it all up, you are saving 7% - 12% on your gas. - Hard to beat.
You do though have to live close to a Costco with a gas bar to make it worth while and the line ups at Costco can be long if you go at a bad time.

June 06, 2017 @ 11:12 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

You can still get the Costco discount if you pay with MasterCard, correct? Best to choose a top rewards credit card to go with the Costco discount. The only problem with Costco gas is the typically long lines and the lack of fill up stations nearby like you said.

June 06, 2017 @ 5:08 pm
Sarah De Diego's picture

I've recently been earning Petro Canada Points (by completing surveys, not through a credit card) and have found out that I can convert the points to CAA Dollars which is great because I have an annual plan.

I really appreciate these comparison posts and you have me doing research on which (cashback) credit card we should use (currently Canada Tire World Mastercard).

Have you ever done one on Roadside Assistance plans? I'd enjoy reading one as my husband keeps sending me (promotional) emails that he gets for all these other companies and I can't answer with confidence that CAA is the best for us.

New subscriber, Sarah.

June 06, 2017 @ 11:15 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

A comparison on roadside assistance plans is a great idea and unfortunately I haven't done on yet. There are a few credit cards that offer roadside assistance at no additional charge but knowing if the coverage is as good as CAA is another matter. There are often towing restrictions and other things to consider. I'll add it to my list of article ideas. Thanks for reading!

June 06, 2017 @ 5:09 pm
RobertG
RobertG's picture

Regarding gas card where you can exchange for airline point , it's not good if you are an infrequent traveler or take vacation using charter flight. I was a big traveler and was using an Aeroplan Credit card but I had enought point each year to use them with Air Canada and their partner.
Now that I am retired,, a point card or rebate card is a lot better as I can choose when to travel and choose cheaper option for travel by air.
This mean card need to be chossen more in function of life style that just the best card out there.
Example regarding gas card , I am a Costo member and have the Capital One Costco , I have a Costco in my town or one on almost all itineray on my trip in Quebec. But I also travel a lot in the USA and Capital One Mastercard is not accepted in the US Costco and I go to Costco often. Then I use a TD Bank US card and I save the change fee . Also I use a loyalty card that give me ,05 per gallon saving when filling at Flying J or Pilot e, a major gas leader in the US.

Regarding roadside assistance , the best by far is the Good Sam service (US base but service in Canada also , who include all car , truck, RV trailer in a houseold of any member in the family . This is hard to beat.
I have an RV and I use it and they were great.
Bob

June 06, 2017 @ 7:43 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Yes, choosing something more flexible definitely makes sense if you don't have the desire to travel. Thanks for the tip on roadside assistance.

June 08, 2017 @ 1:52 pm
Andre Lamontagne
Andre Lamontagne's picture

I use the PC Financial Master Card which gives me 4 cents per liter at Loblaw Superstore in Ottawa where I go by weekly. In Toronto, I buy gas at Costco on my may to or from Vaughan.

Thanks for the good work

June 06, 2017 @ 10:42 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Thanks for sharing!

June 08, 2017 @ 1:53 pm
John Gangl
John Gangl's picture

I use my PC MasterCard in Regina to get 7.0 cents a liter off gas and diesel. If I want premium I go to Costco. We also have a couple independents where gas is usually around 8.0 to 10.0 cents a liter less than the main stream stations, but you have pay cash or by debit. I check prices with the GasBuddy app before I fill to get the lowest prices.

June 11, 2017 @ 1:59 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I really wish the PC MasterCard had those benefits out east. I guess you can get up to 5 cents a litre here.

June 14, 2017 @ 8:40 pm
Kathryn
Kathryn's picture

Air Miles at Shell used to be minimum $20 but they have changed it to $15. http://www.shell.ca/en_ca/motorists/loyalty-and-payment/air-miles.html I see they also give Air Miles for some service items @ Shell, which I have never used - and the main Shell station I go to is only a gas bar in the Safeway lot. I can also pay for gas using Air Miles cash in $10 increments.

I use my TD Drivers Reward Visa card for gas - which I see is no longer available - I received mine when they discontinued the GM Visa Card - https://www.tdcanadatrust.com/products-services/banking/credit-cards/vie... I have also received bonus points for purchase of vehicle parts or service (at the dealer service). The points can be eventually redeemed towards purchase or lease of any brand vehicle, or for purchases of automotive parts or services made with the card.

I tend to go to a couple of gas company gas bars - Shell and Co-op - as they are most convenient to me in my errands. I also do not spend a lot on gas every month, so it is still minimal points. I am planning to buy a new vehicle soon and I will be able to use about $500 (rebated to card) after the purchase.

June 18, 2017 @ 11:10 pm
Kathryn
Kathryn's picture

*error alert* I was wrong in my comment above. It is 1 Air Mile per $15 of gas at Shell just with your Air Miles card, but YES, as originally stated in the column, it is 1 Air Mile per $20 on BMO AirMiles MasterCard (that was originally per $40) and that I also use. So, in theory, you get 2 Air Miles per $20 of gas - one from Air Miles card and one from BMO Air Miles Mastercard. These things get tricky. But I do like the Air Miles cash - I have redeemed at Shell only occasionally, as in when they have a bonus offer for doing so. I usually use the cash at Rexall or Safeway or Sobeys instead. If I purchased larger amounts of gas at one time, I might use the cash at Shell - I see they now have it available at the pay-at-pump pump options.

June 19, 2017 @ 3:57 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

You're right, it used to be 1 mile per $20 spent and you could get more than 1 mile per transaction. Unfortunately, they recently changed it to 1 mile on gas purchases 15 litres or more.

That would be a small improvement, except that now that maximum miles you can earn per transaction is 1. If you are willing to split your purchase into multiple transactions, you still could technically earn more but that takes way too long to do.

Worse, when they have 10-20x promotions, the minimum is increased to 25L to qualify so splitting the transaction becomes less feasible. Previously if you had a large tank that was empty, you could get up to 60 miles in a single transaction during a 20x promo. Now, the max you can get is 20 and if you split transactions it's still tough to get more than 40.

June 19, 2017 @ 4:11 pm
Kathryn
Kathryn's picture

I guess I missed that 1 mile per purchase (basically) part as well. As mentioned, though, I do not use a lot of gas so when I go (to Shell anyway) I just make sure to buy 15 L - usually I pay at the pump and get enough $$ to get 15 L. (Our gas has gone under .90/L in the past couple of weeks, so 15 L costs more.) I do not travel long distances and usually just keep the tank at half full (of the 76 L tank) so that is my usual weekly $$ amount! I also occasionally went to the Extra Foods (Superstore) gas bar as it was next to another regular stop - but that was when they offered the cash bonus receipts for use in the store - and the only reason I ever went there (not my favourite). Now it is an emergency stop so I don't have to go elsewhere.

June 20, 2017 @ 4:38 pm

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