If you have a bad credit score, there’s more than one reason why gas credit cards can be useful:
- Saving money on fuel
- Some are easier to qualify for vs. regular credit cards
- Most don’t charge an annual fee
So which are the best gasoline credit cards for people with little credit history or bad credit? Here are our picks for the best five…
1. Clark Credit Card
If you live in an area where there are Clark stations, this is perhaps the most lucrative choice for gasoline rewards – it gives a wopping 4% rebate. That can really add up if you drive very much.
The bad news? It’s a MasterCard (vs. store-only card) and as a result, you can’t have downright bad credit and still get this card.
But, if your credit isn’t fabulous but still good enough for a general purpose credit card (from Visa, MasterCard, Discover Card or American Express) but you still want a gas rewards card, then try applying for the Clark MasterCard. I would estimate that fairly average credit scores in the mid-600s still might qualify. Here is the Clark gas card review.
2. Shell “Drive For Five” Card
Despite its marketing, this card is hardly rewarding…
It gives a 5 cent rebate per gallon, but only if you buy at least 45 gallons of Shell fuel per month. Buy less than that, you don’t get the rebate.
And, when prices at the pump are $4.00+ that means your rewards are the equivalent of only 1.25% cash back (or less), but at current levels with the price of oil at half of what it was a year ago it’s quite a bit worse.
That being said, if you want a credit card with no fee that has fairly forgiving approval terms, then it’s worth checking out. Watch out though for the stratospheric 24.99% interest rate – it’s definitely not a card for carrying balances over time. A more thorough review of the Shell credit card will explain everything you need to know about it.
3. ExxonMobil Personal Card
This will be one of the easiest to get for people with bad credit. It’s no frills all the way:
- It can only be used at ExxonMobil stations
- There is no rewards program
- The interest rate is quite high
Why would anyone find that appealing? I can only think of a single reason… it could be a good choice if you are at the first stage of rebuilding if you have bad credit or just need a first card to start out your credit life with. If you want to start with 3-4 credit cards that are low or no cost, this could be one of them. But it will become quite costly if you ever carry a balance with an ExxonMobil card, so don’t even think about racking up more than you can afford to pay off at the end of the month.
4. Regular Marathon Card
If you live in the Midwest, there’s a good chance Marathon stations are in your neck of the woods (there are over 5,000 of them). Out of all the gas credit cards for bad credit, this one has a couple of noteworthy benefits:
- Rewards? Surprisingly. yes. As you’ve seen so far, that’s a rarity for entry-level gas station accounts. The Marathon card gives a 2 cent/gallon rebate. Of course in times of high gas prices, that would hardly equate to a half-percent, but it is better than nothing.
- Ohio-based customer service. On the application they make note of the fact that customer service is in Ohio. It’s not often that cards for bad/fair credit offer U.S. call centers, so this is a pleasant surprise.
- No annual fee.
You can learn more about the Marathon card here before applying.
5. Meijer credit card
This is another one that’s included for our readers in the Midwest. For anyone with good or great credit, this card is actually not a good choice.
So why is it recommended? These 3 reasons:
- It can be used for more than just gas. Their card can be used at Meijer stores as well to just buy gasoline. This makes it a lot more useful than your typical gas station card.
- It gives rewards, albeit dismal. Again keeping things in perspective, for this category it’s rare to have a rewards program. This card will chuck back a few pennies on fuel as well as your grocery purchases at Meijers.
- There’s no annual fee.
With its excessively high interest rate, be careful to always pay your bill in full each month. Here is a more in-depth Meijer card review.
Your bad credit leaves few options…
With the exception of the Clark card (which is more for fair credit) almost any entry-level gas station credit card is going to be a lousy deal. In fact, there are bank-issued cards for people with good credit which give significantly higher fuel rebates, at all brands of stations. So ironically, you can earn higher fuel rewards by using a card that is not affiliated with a given brand.
Really it means that station-branded cards have only one purpose – using them as a bridge to either rebuild your credit if it isn’t in good shape or to establish a credit history if you’re just starting out. However, if you’re a college student it can be a better strategy to apply for a student credit card that is tailored for those with little credit history and not even go the gas card route.
However, for most people with bad credit it can be a good strategy to go with a gas store card starting out, along with maybe a good secured credit card.