Saturday, January 21, 2006

Are gas rebate cards worth it?

UNDATED -- Instead of just complaining about high gas prices, how would you like to get money back every time you fill up? Gas rebate cards can save you big if you use them right. But not all cards are the same and there are some pitfalls to watch for. Ira Stoller, uses several gas rebate cards. "I get a five percent rebate every time I gas up," said Stoller. "I save about $300 a year. Stoller is one of millions of people who now use gas rebate cards, credit cards where the incentive isn't airline mileage or bonus points, but money back on gas. The popularity of these cards has surged in the last year or two, according to spokesperson Curtis Arnold. Arnold says there are different kinds to choose from. Some are brand specific but a growing number of cards offer rebates on nearly any gas purchase. "If you want to shop around for the best gas prices in town," said Arnold. "you're still going to get that rebate." But do your homework. Some cards promise sky-high rebates but they're merely introductory offers that drop in a month or two. And know how to claim your rebate. Some cards mail you a check, others credit your account...and some wait for you to ask. "A key thing to worry about on these cards is the expiration of the rebate," said Consumer Action's Linda Sherry. "It can expire if you don't ask for it on some of the cards. So, that can be within even as short a time as six months." Sherry also warns that if you typically carry a credit card balance, these cards are not for you, because they often have high interest rates! But, if you play it right, you can save big. One customer boosted his savings by using his rebate card to buy a discounted gas gift card. His combined savings: 26 cents a gallon! It's also worth noting that many of those cards also offer rebates on things like groceries and drug store purchases.


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