Who is This Credit Card Best For?
Diligently searches for the best products and delights in a good bargain
Looks for good quality at a fair price while buying for the household
Hits the road often, whether for work or play
Frequently shops with a particular merchant and wants to be rewarded for their loyalty
If you’re a regular Shell customer with imperfect credit, the Shell Fuel Rewards Card may be a good choice for saving a couple of bucks every time you gas up. You’ll get an instant 10-cent per-gallon discount at the pump, plus 10% rebates on food and other incidentals you buy at Shell stations. While there are credit cards on the market offering bigger rewards on gas—of any brand—you may have to have good credit to qualify for those.
The Shell Fuel Rewards Card may also be a worthwhile choice if you’re looking for a credit card to build or rehabilitate your credit profile. Because it’s typically easier for people with limited or imperfect credit to get approved for private-label gas cards than to qualify for a major credit card like a Mastercard or Visa, this type of card can be a useful credit-building tool—and one that helps you resist overspending. After all, there’s only so much gasoline you can buy. If this is your primary purpose, make sure there are Shell stations on your regular driving routes.
Just keep in mind that unlike some branded gas cards, you can’t use this card anywhere besides Shell stations. (The Shell Fuel Rewards Mastercard, a sister card also issued by Citibank, can be used anywhere, but again, you’ll probably have to have good credit to qualify.) Plus, like most gas credit cards, the APR on this card is high, so this is not a good choice for carrying a balance.
Can only be used at Shell stations
A good "practice" card
Even occasional drivers can benefit
Cap on savings
- Instant savings: The allure of a branded gas card like this is that the savings you’ll get are immediate. Instead of waiting for points or cash back to accumulate, you’ll be charged 10 cents less per gallon right on the spot. (This includes a 5-cent discount for having gold status in the free Fuel Rewards loyalty program, which automatically comes with the card.)
- A good “practice” card: If you have a fair credit score, or just a thin credit file, this card can help you establish a good track record and build up your credit history. Paying your bill on time each month will help illustrate that you’re responsible.
- Even occasional drivers can benefit: Unlike some branded gas cards, the Shell Fuel Rewards Card doesn’t require you to spend a minimum amount each month to keep your discount active.
- Can only be used at Shell stations: Because this is a private-label credit card, you’re limited to Shell purchases (gas and store items).
- High APR: Though it’s not unusual for a branded gas card to have a high interest rate, it’s worth mentioning. Carrying a balance will quickly negate any savings on gas.
- Cap on savings: The per-gallon discount only applies to the first 20 gallons you pump each time. If you’ve got a big gas-guzzling SUV or pick-up truck, you may only get the discount on two-thirds of your purchase.
Half of the per-gallon discount you’ll receive has nothing to do with getting the credit card. You can get 5 cents off just for having gold status in the Shell Fuel Rewards program, which is free to join whether you have the card or not. So if you’ve already got too many credit cards, you can still get a discount.
Shell Fuel Rewards Card Sign-Up Bonus
For card applications received by Dec. 31, 2019, you’ll get 30 cents off per gallon (up to 20 gallons each time) on your first five fill-ups using the card, as long as they’re made by April 30, 2020. That’s a savings of as much as $6 at each fill-up.
Earning Points & Rewards
The Shell Fuel Rewards Card offers an at-the-pump discount of 10 cents a gallon, for up to 20 gallons per transaction. That includes 5 cents off for having gold status in the Shell Fuel Rewards program, which you can get whether you have this credit card or not.
Since you can use any credit card while in the Fuel Rewards program, the rewards rate on this card is effectively 5 cents per gallon, for comparison purposes. That’s in line with other branded gas cards, but less than what you’d get with many general rewards cards that tend to require a good credit score. In other words, assuming a gallon of gas costs about $2.60, the 5 cents off with the Shell Fuel Rewards Card equates to a discount of $1 for a 20-gallon fill-up, or about 1.9%. But a general rewards card might offer 2% or 3% cash back, maybe even more—and at any gas station.
In addition, for any non-fuel card purchases made at Shell stations, you’ll get a 10% rebate on up to $1,200 in purchases each year. So if you spend $20 on snacks and car supplies, you’ll earn $2 back.
Your per-gallon discount is immediate; it automatically comes off when you swipe your card at the pump. The 10% rebates earned on non-fuel purchases are applied as a credit to your card statement in subsequent billing cycles. If you don’t redeem your rebates within 12 monthly cycles after you earn them, they expire.
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
Branded gas cards like the Shell Fuel Rewards Card only make sense if you’re relatively loyal to a particular gas station chain—in this case, Shell. Before you apply, make sure you won’t have to drive miles out of the way to find a Shell station. Also, if you tend to need odds and ends or like to grab a snack or a coffee, consider doing it at a Shell station to get the 10% rebates.
Beyond that, you’ll want to prove that you’re creditworthy so you can eventually qualify for a more flexible rewards card that requires a good credit score. Do your best to keep your card balance lower than 30% of your total credit line. (So if you have a $300 credit limit, try not to let your balance go above $100.) And make sure to pay your bill on time every single month. The credit scoring algorithms weigh payment behavior heavily, and like to see you’re using 30% or less of your available credit.
Also aim to pay your card balance in full each month so you won’t be hit with finance charges, which will be particularly expensive with the high APR.
If your credit is iffy, and you’re willing to put down a deposit, you may want to consider a secured card that offers 2% cash back on gas purchases. A secured card offers a pathway toward credit-building as well, but with more flexible redemption options.
The Shell Fuel Rewards Card is issued by Citibank, which received average customer ratings in J.D. Power’s 2019 Credit Card Satisfaction Study. But customer service is only available by phone 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday to Friday, whereas many other credit cards offer 24/7 support.
The security features of this card aren’t mentioned in the disclosures available online.
Shell Fuel Rewards Card’s Fees
This card has relatively typical fees for a gas card. There is no annual fee, and the APR is higher than on most general rewards cards.