How to Get Free Gas With a Rewards Card

Smart ways to combat rising gas prices.

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How good does nearly two months of free gas sound right about now? Let’s see, the national average price of regular gas is already around the $4-per-gallon mark and the U.S. Energy Information Administration doesn’t project it to peak until May, so … pretty good. Well, that’s essentially what the Pentagon Federal Credit Union is offering with its Platinum Rewards Visa Card--the best gas rewards credit card on the market, according to a Card Hub examination of more than 1,000 credit card offers.

Not only does this card offer 5 rewards points per dollar spent on gas, but PenFed also gives users a $250 initial bonus and does not charge an annual fee (just a one-time $15 fee that anyone can pay to join the credit union). Therefore, if filling up your tank costs $175 each month, for example, you’ll save more than $350 over the course of the first year.

We could all certainly use an extra $350, especially when rising gas prices are viewed through the prism of recent credit card debt increases. The $48 billion in credit card debt incurred by U.S. consumers last year alone, according to Card Hub’s 2011 Credit Card Debt Study, is 424 percent more than we added in 2010 and 577 more than in 2009. And since the National Foundation for Credit Counseling’s 2012 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey revealed that an increasing number of consumers do not pay their bills on time, this debt trend could very well worsen if rising gas prices go unchecked. Luckily, getting the proper gas rewards credit card is not the only recourse you have at your disposal. Other popular countermeasures include:

• Lifestyle changes: According to a recent AAA survey, 64 percent of consumers plan to combat high gas prices by driving fewer miles, but this can also include other changes like buying a car with better fuel consumption or telecommuting.

• Shopping smart: First of all, cell phone apps like GasBuddy can tell you where to find the least expensive gas. If that happens to be at a Shell gas station, shopping at select grocery store chains like Giant and Kroger can help you save even more in light of Shell’s grocery rewards program. All and all, even with peak driving season still ahead of us, I’d say we’re well equipped to fight back against the extra costs.

Odysseas Papadimitriou is the CEO of Card Hub, an online marketplace for credit card offers, including gas credit cards.