“Don’t think you’re saving a lot by having one of those gas company credit cards,” says Odysseas Papadimitriou, CEO of comparison website CardHub.com. “For most people, you’ll literally get almost nothing in return for giving up your flexibility.”
For example, with the Conoco card you need to buy at least 45 gallons of gas in a month to get the meager savings of 5 cents a gallon. And rewards stop after 110 gallons in any qualifying month.
The Citgo card limits rewards to the first 90 days after opening a new account. The payback is capped at $50. After the first three months, there is no reward.
A survey by another comparison site, NerdWallet.com, came to the same conclusion: You’d be better off with a general purpose rewards card.
Anisha Sekar, vice president of credit and debit products at NerdWallet, analyzed cards from five major brands: BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Gulf and Shell. She found that these branded cards offer few rewards and have many gimmicks.
“There is so much fine print,” Sekar says. “You’ll find limits on how much you can earn a month and limits on how you can redeem what you’ve earned.”
Card Hub analyzed the major gas reward credit cards and picked these as the worst:
Do oil company gas cards make sense for anyone? Card Hub’s Papadimitriou says these cards are for people with damaged or limited credit who want to be able to pull up for a fill-up and not have to pay in cash. For everyone else, he says, a generic rewards credit card that can be used at any station makes more sense.
A few cautions Before you apply for any credit card, take the time to read all the terms and conditions. Be sure you know how the cash-back offer works and look for any restrictions. These pitfalls include:
Rewards credit cards have some of the highest interest rates. So they are only for people who pay off their bill on time each and every month. If you miss even one month, you’ll lose money.
"The interest charges are going to outweigh whatever you would have earned on the reward,” notes Greg McBride, senior financial analyst at Bankrate.com. “Instead focus on cards that have the lowest possible interest rate.”
Read more about HOPE Platinum MasterCards.
Some consumers are shying away from plastic and instead turning to personal loans and lines of credit to gain more control over their financial life -- perhaps using them to pay down credit card debt, pay their tax bills or finance a trip down the aisle.
HOPE has been featured again on a site that highlights success stories from around the world during the International Year of the Cooperative.
|Legends Park Resident Toni Parsons|
This story originally appeared in The Clarion-Ledger on February 25, 2012. by Jerry Mitchell
The grinding truth about poverty is the more time you spend at the bottom, the more likely you'll stay there.
More than half of the black children raised in poverty will remain in poverty as adults. The rate for white children is one third, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank.
The following article appears in the February 2012 edition of Consumer Reports magazine.
It highlights the differences between credit unions and banks, how much money people could save by moving their money to a credit union, and an analysis that things are only going to get worse for bank customers. The first table shows that credit union members could save more than $650 each year if they make use of the basic services listed.
See the full article with a second table included.