Thursday, May 10, 2012

How to Use Credit Cards During Retirement

First 4 digits of a credit card (Photo credit: Wikipedia)If someone told you ten years ago that they paid $60 to fill up their gas tanks, you would have thought they were crazy, or that they were filling up 40 gallon drums, not vehicle tanks. But with the national average cost of one gallon of gas hovering just under $4.00, it's not at all uncommon to hear about people paying $60, $70, and even up to $100 to fill up their tanks.

Boy, have times ever changed.

But there is a way to make the most of the rising cost of gasoline — credit cards with gas rewards. Ben Brockwell, a director at the Oil Price Information Service, says that "approximately 80% of consumers are using credit cards to pay at the pump, and that figure will increase if gas prices continue to rise."

Many credit card companies now offer cash-back or reward programs for gas purchases, whose savings are better even than the discount many gas stations offer for customers who pay with cash.

Retirement comes with its fair share of benefits, but even retirees aren’t safe from rising gas prices. After a lifetime of using credit, most retired people don’t have a problem with credit, but a gap in your credit history will drive your score down, and you don’t want to be turned down when trying to buy that new RV or boat you’ve had your eye on for 20 years because your credit score has been slowly dropping.

Instead, consider getting a gas credit card, which will keep your credit score steady, and can help you save for the important things. Here are some of the best options out there:

Pentagon Federal Credit Union Platinum Rewards card: This credit union pays 5% cash back on all gas purchases. That adds up. Even better, the card doesn't charge any annual fees, though consumers will have to shell out $15 to join if they don't qualify for membership in the union.

American Express Blue Cash Everyday card: The Blue card doesn't pay quite as handsomely as the Pentagon card, but still gives 2% cash back for gas purchases, and is typically easier to obtain. American Express cards usually have annual fees, though, so be sure to read the fine print.

Costco / American Express TrueEarnings card: Members of warehouse clubs like Sam's Club and Costco save on gas just for being members (in most cases) but some clubs have credit cards that pay a percentage cash back for all gas purchases. Costco's TrueEarnings card, for example, pays 3% on all gas purchases up to $3,000 and 1% after that.

Brand cards: Shell, Exxon/Mobil, Chevron, Valero, and almost any other major gas chain also have gas reward cards as well. With any of these cards, however, be very aware of the interest rate, which generally ranges from 17% to 27%. If you decide to go with one of the brand cards, pay your balance in full each month to avoid the steep interest charges.

This is a guest post by Eliza Morgan who is a full time blogger. She specializes in writing about business credit cards. You can reach her at: elizamorgan856 at gmail dot com.

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1 comment:

  1. I use my credit card sparingly, but always to buy gasoline. As you note, the high cost translates to cash back rewards, and I can pay at the pump instead of trudging inside.


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