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I have been a pretty loyal Chase BP Visa Card holder for quite a while now (maybe since 2008 or so).
Back in the “good ole days,” the cash-back rewards program for the Chase BP Visa Card was very simple; you got 5% cash back for all purchases at BP gas stations (both gas and inside the store) and 1% cash back for purchases everywhere else.
About 1-2 years ago, they sullied this awesome, straight-forward, high-earning cash-back program by introducing “Cents-Per-Gallon Rebates.” Immediately, after looking at the new program’s structure, I figured it was some complicated way to save money by giving less cash back while maintaining enough complication to have most customers not bother switching to another card. I remember doing some quick calculations and thinking that I was earning about 2% cash back with the new rewards structure. However, I never really put pen to paper and calculated exactly what I was/am earning.
However, I recently signed up for a Bank AmericaCard Cash Rewards in order to spend $500 on it to earn the $100 sign up bonus. In signing up for this no annual fee card, I was very nicely surprised to find out that it offers card-holders 1% cash back on all purchases, but 2% cash back in grocery stores and 3% cash back at gas stations.
So, now that I have this other card that boasts 3% cash back rewards, I figured I needed to seriously sit down to compare it to my BP Visa Card’s cash back program. After all, one serious pitfall of the Chase BP Visa is that I only get the enhanced benefits when I shop at one gas station, BP’s.
Decoding the BP Visa Pump Rewards Cash-Back Program
The way that Chase decided to word their cash back program for their BP Visa card is beyond confusing. Just take a look at the screenshot below from the Chase BP Visa site:
There are two levels of complexity to understanding the cash back benefits:
- You earn $0.15 of “Cents Per Gallon Rebates” (no – you don’t earn $0.15 immediately, just $0.15 in “Cents Per Gallon Rebates,” so sort of like imaginary Chase BP money) every time you spend $100 in purchases at BP gas stations.
- To redeem your “Cents Per Gallon Rebates,” it is also very complicated.
- Option 1 – Redeem when you fill up at the pump –
- In other words, you get a per gallon discount of however many Cents Per Gallon Rebates you have accumulated on up to 20 gallons of fuel, only good for one fuel-up.
- Option 2 – Get a statement credit –
- You can elect to be credited on your credit card at a level of $15 for every $1 you have accumulated in “Cents per Gallon Rebates.”
When you read through the terms above, did you become confused?
I can’t blame you if you did! I wonder how many BP Visa card-holders actually take the time to go through these benefits to actually determine WHAT THE HECK CASH BACK % THEY ARE GETTING FOR THEIR MONEY IN PLAIN ENGLISH!?
Let’s take a look to see if we can determine a concise cash back % amount that Chase BP Visa holders are actually receiving these days when they redeem at the pump:
- For the sake simplicity, let’s assume that we purchase $100 worth of gas. We’ll also assume a level gas price per gallon of $3.50.
- By spending $100 in gas at BP, you accumulate $0.15 of Cents Per Gallon Rebates to your name.
- Since you’ve accumulated these Rebates, you now decide that you want to redeem them. You wait until your Toyota Camry is almost out of gas, and you head to the store to fill up with a ~12 gallon gas purchase.
- Since you’re utilizing your Rebates, the normal $3.50 per gallon rate gets reduced to $3.35 per gallon.
- 12 gal @ $3.50 per gal = $42.00
- 12 gal @ $3.35 per gal = $40.20
- So, using the Cents Per Gallon Rebate allowed you to save 4.3% of this specific gas purchase.
- At first glance, saving/getting 4.3% cash back sounds pretty good. However, what has not been accounted for in this calculation is the $100 in that you had to spend in order to get the $0.15 Cents Per Gallon Rebate in the first place.
- $100 worth of gas purchased previously to get earn the Rebates + $42 spent to purchase gas without applying Rebate = $142 total spent.
- $100 worth of gas purchased previously to get earn the Rebates + $40.20 spent to purchase gas WITH applying Rebate = $140.20 total spent.
So, in reality, when all is said and done, the new Chase BP Visa Pump Rewards only equates to ~1.3% cash back of your total purchases (if written in plain English) when you redeem your Rebates at the pump. And, as gas prices continue to increase, this would only become less and less! Clearly, this is not the same good deal that was once available in the 5% cash back days.
Let’s also briefly calculate the cash back % that we would get by redeeming our points through a credit card statement credit. In order to earn the required $1 in Cents Per Gallon Rebates required to qualify for a statement credit, you would need to spend $667 total at BP stations ($0.15 Cents Per Gallon Rebates earned per $100 spent x 6.67 to equal $1 in Cents Per Gallon Rebates x $100). If you’re like me and fill up about 2x per month, this would likely take you 7 months to build up enough Rebates to get a statement credit.
To calculate the overall cash back you receive for redeeming your Rebates online, the math would be $15 cash back / $667 total spent = 2.24% cash back, so almost 2x what you get from redeeming at the pump directly (however, it would take a lot longer to qualify to receive money).
Aside from the language being almost intentionally confusing, I am not all that happy to find out that a card I once loved is paying out such a low amount of cash back benefits. If I am redeeming at the pump (as I have been doing for the past 1-2 years) and only getting 1.3% cash back, I might as well have been using my Chase Freedom Visa Card where I get a global 1% cash back with all purchases! Furthermore, if I had been using my Chase Freedom Card, I could have gone to any gas station I fancied, instead of seeking out a BP.
Because of the facts we saw above with the real life cash back %’s of the Chase BP Visa Card being 1.3-2.2%, I think my path forward is quite clear. I will start using my Chase Freedom Visa Card for gas when the rotating categories for 5% cash back lands on gasoline purchases, and switch my main gas credit card to being the BankAmericaCard Cash Rewards Visa mentioned above, which offers 3% cash back for gas purchases at all times from any gas station brand (and features a low $25 minimum cash back redemption level + 10% bonus when I redeem directly in to my Bank of America checking account).
How about you all? Have you ever used the Chase BP Visa Card, or any other credit cards where the cash back benefits were worded in a very confusing way?
Share your experiences by commenting below!