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Gas Rebate Credit Cards Lose Appeal

Red car at the gas pump.Credit cards that offer rebates and discounts on gasoline purchases aren’t nearly as generous as they used to be.

When we looked at these cards in early 2012, several offered fairly generous rewards. A little more than a year later, that doesn’t appear to be the case.

There is, however, one really good credit card provider out there we’d like to mention.

Pentagon Federal Credit Union now has two cards that let you earn 5% back on gas purchases no matter which station you patronize. One pays in points, the other in cash back.

With the PenFed Platinum Rewards Visa Card, you earn five points per dollar on gas purchases, three points on supermarket purchases and one point everywhere else. Points can be redeemed for a variety of rewards, including merchandise, travel, gift cards or Visa prepaid cards (www.penfed.org).

The PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards Visa Card lets you earn 5% cash back on gas, plus 0.25% back on everything else. With this card, there are no caps on the rewards you earn, and they are automatically credited to your account each month.

Neither card charges an annual fee.

Both cards also carry a super-low APR if you qualify: just 9.99% on purchases through June 30, 2014, after which it can change if the prime rate does. However, that’s unlikely to happen for some time.

If you act before June 30, 2013, you can transfer a balance for 4.99% for the life of the balance and with no balance transfer fee. If you act after that date, the rate is the same as the purchase rate, or 9.99%, and the balance transfer fee rises to 3% of the balance, up to $250.

PenFed is a big credit union that caters to military personnel and their families, but you can join even if you don’t have any military connections.

And now for a few of the most notable examples of good deals gone bad:

ExxonMobil Platinum MasterCard

You used to be able to earn 15 cents a gallon on gasoline purchases at Exxon and Mobil stations nationwide with the ExxonMobil Platinum MasterCard.

Not anymore.

Now, you only earn 6 cents a gallon. You have to buy at least 45 gallons of gas at Exxon and Mobil stations a month, and rebates are capped once you buy more than 100 gallons in any month.

To add insult to injury, it raised the already steep APR by 5 percentage points. Now it’s 24.99%, even if you have good credit.

Chevron and Texaco Visa Card

This card still pays 10 cents a gallon on gasoline purchases at Chevron and Texaco stations, but now you have to spend at least $300 a month on the card to get it.

You can earn 20 cents a gallon, but you have to spend a minimum of $1,000 a month on the card to get it. That’s an awful lot of spending to earn a couple of bucks a month.

Rebates are doubled during the first 60 days for new customers. Gas rebates are capped at $300 a year.

In addition, the already obscene APR of 23.99% was raised even higher, to 26.99%.

BP Visa with Pump Rewards

Not only did BP gut the rewards on this card, it made them ridiculously complex.

You used to be able to earn a fat 5% back on your first $500 of monthly purchases at BP and Amoco stations, double that during the 60-day introductory period. You also earned 2% back on travel and dining purchases and 1% on all other purchases.

Now you earn a measly 15 cents per gallon after you purchase $100 per month. That’s lousy.

BP did make the rebates easier to redeem — somewhat. Now you can redeem them right at the pump, instead of having to wait for a statement credit like on the Exxon and Chevron cards.

However, you can only redeem points up to 20 gallons at a time.

The APR remains high at 19.24%.

Compare these offers with the gas rewards credit cards in our database.

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