Sunoco Credit Card - Why It's a Bad Idea

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Sunoco Credit Card - Why It's a Bad Idea

Postby CreditCardGuru » Wed Jan 02, 2013 2:15 pm

Will the Sunoco credit card truly save you money on gas in 2013? My Sunoco gas card review shows why you should think twice before filling out an application.

[imga=gas pump at Sunoco station"][/imga]
Founded in 1886 (as Sun Company) Sunoco is now one of the biggest gas distributors in America, reportedly pulling in as much as $54.1 billion per year. Their headquarters are in Philadelphia and in addition to their gas stations, they’re also known for their convenience stores. Allegedly, the company was identified as the 55th worst air polluter in the US by researchers at the University of Massachusetts.

There are actually two consumer Sunoco credit cards:

2013 update: Citi discontinued both of the Sunoco cards discussed below, so you can no longer get a credit card from them. For other options, I suggest you check out this list of the best gas credit cards which pay anywhere from 2% to 5% rebates at every station, including Sunoco.
Sunoco Rewards Card
This one can only be used for purchases at Sunoco gas stations.

Annual Fee: This card does not carry an annual fee.

Interest Rate: Unfortunately this is on the high side. When this review was written the variable rate was currently at 23%. To add insult to injury, the default APR is 29.99% and according to the fine print that might be applied for something as simple as not making the minimum payment by the due date. Therefore if you’re someone who carries over a balance this isn’t a good choice.

Rewards: This card is issued by Citibank and the rewards are what is known as “Thank You Points” (Citi’s reward program). These are points you can redeem for a variety of things from Citi. They give you 2 Thank You Points per gallon of gas purchased at Sunoco. From my experience, 1 Thank You Point equals far less than 1% of your purchase, so considering that they are only giving 2 points per gallon of gas (which costs $3.00 or so) one can conclude the actual rebate is extremely low.

Verdict: Taking into account the high APR, the fact that it can only be used at Sunoco, and the pitiful rewards structure, this Sunoco credit card doesn’t sound too desirable to say the least.

Sunoco Rewards Plus Card

This is what you would call a normal credit card because it operates over the MasterCard network. Therefore it can be used where MasterCard is accepted in addition to purchases at Sunoco.

Annual Fee: There is no annual fee on the Sunoco Rewards Plus Card.

Interest Rate: Upon studying the terms and conditions, it appears they actually give you two different interest rates – one for purchases at Sunoco, and one rate for purchases elsewhere. At the time of this review that is 16.99% on non-Sunoco purchases and 23.00% on Sunoco purchases. The latter is extremely high and the 16.99% isn’t the worst I’ve seen, but it’s also far from the best.

Rewards: The rewards structure on this card is extremely confusing, but I’ll try and explain it in a simple and straightforward manner. Like the other card, you earn Citi Thank You Points for your spending.

In a giving billing period (30 days) you get:
  • 1 point per dollar spent on non-Sunoco purchases
  • 3 points per gallon on your first and second purchase at Sunoco
  • 10 points per gallon on your third purchase at Sunoco and beyond
As you can see, this is extremely confusing, especially considering that your billing period doesn’t necessarily start at the beginning of the month. Keeping track of what Sunoco purchase number you're on for that month can be a real nightmare!

For a moment, let’s pretend you receive 10 points per gallon on all Sunoco purchase… obviously you don’t, but if you did would that sound like a deal to you? Unfortunately even if that were the case, the rewards are still lousy. Here’s why:

Let’s say gas is $3.00 a gallon… that only equals 3.33 points per dollar. Because each Thank You Point often converts to rewards worth less than a penny per point, that means you will be getting much less than a 3.33% rebate on your gas spending. In fact because of this, I would estimate the average reward redemption would probably only equal between 2% on your gas spending. To make matters worth, they only give 3 points a gallon on your first two purchases in a billing cycle and only 1 point per dollar elsewhere.

Verdict: Sunoco is a good gas station that I like a lot. Unfortunately it’s hard to justify this Sunoco credit card. Why bother with a card that will only give you a higher rebate at Sunoco stations, and on top of that, the “higher” rebate is still low.
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