Sign-up bonus is a deal! When a credit card has a promo offer make sure you will be able to grab it, otherwise it will be a waste of time. Gas branded credit cards not always have promo offers and if they have, they are hard to comprehend, not mentioning to achieve. For example, the Shell Fuel Rewards card offers you bigger Shell rebates on your first 5 Shell fuel purchases. Regular cards are much better in this way. You can simply choose a card with a sign-up bonus! For example, as a new cardmember of the Discover it® Cash Back card you will simply get all your first-year cash back matched at the end of the year.
Unlimited rewards. That's it! The card should give you unlimited rewards on all purchases and not only for the first 100 gallons of fuel you buy in a given month or for fuel purchases at specific gas stations. Co-branded gas cards will always limit you to particular gas brands. The Shell rewards credit card, for instance, will rebate on Shell Fuel only. Moreover, the important disadvantage of co-branded gas rewards credit cards is the way you get your savings - you receive cents as a discount on each gallon and your savings steadily drop as gas prices go up. Whereas regular cards like the Discover it® Cash Back card, will allow you to earn unlimited rewards at any gas station that accepts credit cards as a method of payment.
Earn rewards everywhere you shop. When you are applying for a gas branded credit card, you should understand that you won't be able to use it outside gas stations. Thus, the Shell Fuel Rewards credit card cannot be used outside Shell gas stations, meaning you will need another credit card if you want to shop and earn rewards at other locations. Regular rewards credit cards give more flexibility. You can have only one, for example, the Discover it® Cash Back card to earn rewards on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, local cafes, and anywhere else.
Redeem for any thing you want. A gas credit card will either give you an instant discount at the gas pump when you are paying for fuel with this card, or it will reward you with points redeemable for gas discounts only. The savings on the Shell co-branded credit card can only be redeemed with Shell, other redemption options are not available. Regular credit cards allow more ways to redeem: from popular retailer's gift cards to cash deposited to your bank account. For example, the Discover it® Cash Back card allows to redeem earned cash back for anything. You don't need to redeem for fuel if you don't want to.
Never lose rewards. Rewards you earn with a gas credit card won't live forever. They either expire in a period of time or you are sent rewards certificates that also have an expiration date. When you use a regular rewards credit card, you will keep your rewards as long as your account is active and in good standing.
Enjoy 0% interest introductory period. You cannot get a credit card with absolutely no interest, but you can forget about interest payments for a year or so if you have the right card. A gas branded credit card is unlikely to have 0% intro APR. Thus, the Shell card does not have any kind of intro APR. More than that, the ongoing interest rate is quite high. Regular credit cards often come with 0% introductory rates allowing you to carry some balance from month to month without paying a penny of interest (provided you make minimum monthly payments on-time).
Pay off your debts at 0% interest. When you need to pay off some debt. Having a credit card that allows you to transfer and pay off some debt at 0% APR is a good idea. The less you owe, the better your credit will be and the more value your rewards will have. The interest payments can negate all rewards you've earned, so make sure you do not carry the balance on your cards. Most co-branded gas credit cards do not offer 0% intro APR on balance transfers, and you won't see it on the Shell credit card either.
No unexpected fees. Guess you won't like to see a fee charged for a transaction in a foreign currency. This fee is not a common thing among gas branded credit cards because they are not usually accepted abroad and cannot be used outside gas stations. Regular credit cards tend not to charge this fee as well even though they can be used everywhere. So if you use your credit card abroad, you can save a lot on your purchases.
Shop everywhere. Getting a co-branded gas credit card means you won't be able to use that card everywhere. You will be limited to a specific gas brand and chances are you may not have a suitable gas station near you in the most crucial moment. The Shell credit card is accepted at Shell gas stations only. Regular credit cards, like the Discover it® Cash Back card, give more freedom - you can use them everywhere so long as credit cards are accepted as a method of payment.
Updated: February 18, 2019
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