Is the Shell gas credit card really the best way to help offset the cost of gasoline in 2014? This review shows you the truth.
Almost every gas station has their own branded card, including Shell. To get you to sign up, they all use the same pitch: “our card will save you money!”
But the reality is that many of them hide behind promotional gimmicks and other confusing reward structures that won’t save you any worthwhile amount of money at the end of the day. Certainly not when you see what other avenues are available.
Let’s take a look at the Shell credit cards and compare them to what’s out there…
Shell “Drive For Five” Card
This is the version that you most often see on tv or in print advertisments – I’ve even heard radio commercials for it, which is unusual for a gas card?!
Since this card is not a general use credit cad (Visa, MasterCard, Discover or American Express) it can only be used at Shell gas stations and some Jiffy Lube locations. There is no annual fee.
Rewards: Warning, this is sneaky! The card gives 5 cents off per gallon, but only if you buy at least 45 gallons in a given month. So that means if you buy say, 30 gals/month (which if you filled up a typical car every few weeks) you would not be receiving the 5 cent rebate.
And even if you’re road warrior, the program caps the rebate to only the first 100 gal per month. So that means to get the rebate on every gallon, you have to be using 45-100 gallons per month. Also let’s not forget that even in the best case scenario, you’re only getting 5 cents off per gallon (that’s cents, not percent). On $3.75 regular gasoline that only equals a 1.33% rebate.
Going back the Shell “Drive For Five” card, as of the time of this review (August 2014) here were the terms and conditions on it, which aren’t exactly pretty…
Interest Rate: At the time of this review, the card carries a variable APR of 24.99%… ouch!
Other Benefits: I’ve read both their marketing material and the fine print and don’t see any benefits I would consider special whatsoever.
Verdict: If you are rebuilding credit and cant qualify for a normal card, then the Shell Drive For Five might be worth looking in to. For everyone else, this credit card is a total joke.
Shell Select Member
This one carries a $25.00 annual fee. It offers rewards, but bizarrely = not on fuel!
Rewards: This one is NOT a major credit card, but the difference between this and the other private label card Shell offers is that you can use it to book travel. It touts 10% cash back on hotels and 5% on airlines and car rentals.
The catch? You are required to book that travel through the Shell card customer service and pay their prices, whatever those may be.
Of course, the next logical question is “Are their prices really the best or at least competitive with other travel booking options?” and that I do not know, but I am certainly skeptical (if you have the card, please chime in with feedback on this). As mentioned, what’s really strange and a big disconnect is that this his card offers no rebates or discounts on gas.
Interest Rate: Same as above: 24.99%.
Other Benefits: Some travel insurance benefits, but at amounts lower than what many credit cards offer.
Verdict: It offers no gas discount and the travel reservation hotline sounds like a red herring to me. I would definitely pass on this, especially considering that it has a $25.00 annual fee. Plus, reportedly you can’t pay for these travel bookings with your Shell credit card. They require you to have a Visa/MasterCard on file to charge them to, though you have to have the Shell card to get the 10% cash back on hotels and 5% on airlines.
Shell Platinum MasterCard (recently discontinued)
This is their only “normal” credit card; it can be used anywhere MasterCard is accepted.
Rewards: The card offers a 5% rebate at Shell gas stations. It offers the standard 1% on other purchases. If Shell is the cheapest in your area, this could potentially be a lucrative program for you. If not, you may be better off with a universally accepted gas rewards card.
Interest Rate: The APR was “as low as” 11.24% which is quite good, but in 2011 Shell upped it big time to 23.99% (according to the MasterCard application). Also is important to note this is a variable rate card so it will go up as the prime rate goes back up.
Verdict: Update – Citi discontinued the Shell MasterCard in late 2012. It is no longer available.
Are any of them ever worth it?
The Shell MasterCard definitely was worth considering, but now that it’s canceled you can cross that off your list.
That leaves us the other two; Shell Drive For Five and the Select Member card. The former has a shady fuel rewards program and the latter doesn’t even offer fuel rewards!
Conclusion? Both cards are worthless for buying gasoline (and isn’t that the point?). However, if you have truly bad credit and can’t qualify for a normal general use credit card then they might be good credit cards for rebuilding credit.
If you have good credit, you have many good options from which to choose…
Blue Cash Preferred from AmEx – This card pays an unlimited 3% cash back at every US gas station, including on Shell.
Costco credit card from AmEx – If you’re a Costco member, this card pays a 3% rebate on fuel (for the first $4k spent annually at US stand-alone gas stations).
Want even more options? Go here to compare more gas credit cards with rewards
Last updated August 27, 2014