Appalled by gas prices? These credit and debit cards help you recover

The killer app for beating high gas prices is buying an electric vehicle.

Wait – they’re expensive and rare right now. You’ll need other strategies to limit the damage to your finances from soaring gas prices.

Buying energy stocks is one. They have a race for the ages this year and show no signs of slowing down. There are also plenty of everyday driving tips that can help reduce gas mileage – inflate your tires properly, change your oil on time, drive to red lights, and reduce speed on the highway.

Your next line of defense: Discover the savings and points-earning ability of the many credit and debit cards that offer matching rewards specifically for gas expenses.

A CAA membership card can also save you money. Swipe your CAA card when paying for a fill-up at Shell stations and you’ll save three cents a litre.

If you have a debit or credit card issued by Royal Bank of Canada, you can save three cents per liter on gas at Petro-Canada stations and get 20% more on the Petro-Points loyalty program. Simply link your card to Petro-Points through RBC’s online or mobile banking platform.

Oil prices are rising due to supply issues related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, combined with strong demand for fuel as the economy rebounds from pandemic shutdowns. Another problem is that oil refining capacity hasn’t kept up with demand – a recent Globe and Mail article explained how this has driven gasoline prices higher than expected, given falling oil price.

The CAA says the national average gas price midweek was $2 a liter, down from $1.27 a year ago. If you use 50 liters of gas per week, your monthly gas costs went from about $275 to about $433, an increase of 57%.

Here’s how to get at least a small benefit from that extra spending: Find a rewards credit card that offers a higher level of points for spending on gas. You spend more on gas – why not earn more points too?

In the no-fee category, the Tangerine Cash Back credit card stands out because you can get 2% cash back on gas. This card has 10 expense categories, including gas. You choose two to get 2% silver, while the others get you 0.5%. The money you get back can be used on your card balance.

CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite is an annual fee rewards card that offers 4% cash back on gas and groceries and fewer points on other purchases. You get 3% cash back from the TD Cash Back Visa Infinite Card on gas, groceries and recurring bill payments and 1% on everything else.

If you want your gas spend to generate travel and lifestyle rewards, Scotiabank Gold American Express offers three points per dollar spent on gas and public transportation such as rideshares, taxis, and public transit. Five points per dollar are available for grocery stores, restaurants, bars, and fast food, and there are no transaction fees on foreign currency transactions.

Another card to consider is American Express Cobalt, which offers two points per dollar spent on gas and general travel, and five points per dollar spent on food and beverages.

If you often buy gas and other things at Canadian Tire, take a look at the Triangle Mastercard free of charge. You get five cents in Canadian Tire Money per liter of gas, which can be used to help pay for future fill-ups at Canadian Tire. You can also earn Triangle Rewards at Husky gas stations.

Another gas saver from Canadian Tire is the no-fee Gas Advantage card, which gives you a discount at the pump of up to 10 cents per litre. The more you spend on the card each month, the higher your discount. For example, if you spend up to $499.99 per month, you get 2 cents per liter off, and if you spend $2,000 or more per month, you get 10 cents off.

We’re driving from Ottawa to PEI this summer and I’m starting to think about gas management strategies costs. Avoiding Montreal’s quicksand traffic is part of the plan, as is monitoring tire pressure and liberally using cruise control on the highways. I also examine our portfolio of credit and debit cards to find those that are holding up to soaring gas prices.

Are you a young Canadian with money on your mind? To set you up for success and avoid costly mistakes, listen to our award-winning Stress Test podcast.