Should You Use a Credit Card or a Pre-Paid Petro Card While Tanking Up?

by Vinaya HS on January 10, 2007

in Finance

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There are principally three ways by which you can pay for petrol at a gas station: Cash, Credit Card (plain or co-branded), or Pre-Paid Petro Card. There are advantages and disadvantages in each option, mainly depending on your spending or budgeting beliefs.

I always prefer paying in cash for all my expenses, except for airline tickets and web-hosting for which I have no option but to use a credit card. If it’s an expensive purchase, which in my books is above Rs 2000, I use my debit card – the plastic equivalent of cash – rather than having to carry bundles of currency in my pocket. I avoid using my credit card. Because when it comes to credit card debt, I have been there and done that. Veni. Vidi. Credit. I came (to the shop), I saw (the products), and I debted (using the credit cards). Although the 50-odd days of credit looks attractive – and many advise you to invest the saved cash elsewhere for 50 days – I believe it’s not worth the management headache.

The pre-paid petro card seems to be a good backup for an emergency. I think it’s a good idea to have such a card in your wallet, or even better in your vehicle, with a 1000 bucks worth of petrol loaded. It really could be a life-saver. The more I think about it, the more determined I am to get such a card once I am back in Bangalore. And forget the reward points. If you maintain cards for the reward points alone, you need to think hard.

The The Economic Times recently carried a well researched article on this topic. Excerpts below.

The use of credit cards is becoming as common as cash when it comes to tanking up the car. While plain vanilla credit cards can be used, one also has the option of using pre-paid petro cards and co-branded petro credit cards. Here’s a lowdown of the features, advantages, and disadvantages of such instruments.

Pre-paid cards

There are two pre-paid petro cards in the market: HP Smart 1 and BPCL Petro card. A pre-paid card has an electronic chip, which stores information about the amount (in rupees) of fuel that you have loaded in your card. Every time you transact on this card you earn some reward points. To apply for any of these petro cards one needs to fill an application form and pay a one-time joining fee of Rs 250. The card is received later by courier through a payment receipt which is issued by the retail outlet immediately. In case of the HP card, you can load the card with a minimum amount of Rs 250 and in multiples of Rs 50 thereafter. For a BPCL card, the minimum load amount is Rs 500 and subsequently you can load the amount in multiples of Rs 100. The cards get automatically debited according to the spends made.

How rewarding are pre-paid cards?

Club HP Smart 1 card provides 5% of the amount spent as rewards. The spend can be on anything, right from petrol/diesel fills to lubricants to car servicing to batteries, etc. All one needs to do is use the HP smart card to pay bills. The BPCL Petro card, on the other hand, provides you with reward points (called petro miles) for all purchases from any of Bharat Petroleum’s retail outlets in India. The reward points in BPCL’s case differ based on what products are purchased.

In case of HP Smart 1, you can encash the rewards accumulated for free fuel. In case of the BPCL Petro card, you can only redeem the petro miles for gifts. The petro miles can either be redeemed at BPCL outlets or through its website.

Co-branded credit cards

Apart from the pre-paid petro cards, you have the option to use a co-branded credit to pay for fuel. These cards do away with the surcharge you pay at fuel filling stations while using a vanilla debit/credit card. The surcharge works out to 2.75 % or Rs 10, whichever is more.

Co-branded credit cards like IOC-Citibank and HPCL-ICICI Bank are the only co-branded petro cards in the market. The IOC-Citibank card fetches one reward (turbo) point for every Rs 125 spent. If you purchase any other IndianOil product outside an IndianOil retail outlet you can earn two points. These accumulated points can be redeemed for free petrol or petro coupons. These coupons can be exchanged for free fuel/Servo lubricants at select IndianOil retail outlets.

In case of ICICI Bank-HPCL credit card, the reward points — Speed ‘o’ miles — can be redeemed for free fuel at HPCL petrol pumps or against gifts available in the ICICI rewards redemption catalogue. Other add on features include a 15% discount on P-UC. (pollution under control) check, labour charges on servicing and minor repairs at HPCL petrol pumps. You can also enjoy a 5% discount on MRF tyres, Exide batteries and MICO accessories.

Cash too can be rewarding

IOC has launched IOC Xtra reward programme, which benefits customers making cash purchases. This card is issued almost instantly and you need not pre-load any money. Every time you make cash purchases using this card at IndianOil petrol/diesel outlets, reward points are added to your card. These points can be redeemed for fuel/lubes and other items. It also offers accident insurance cover worth Rs 1 lakh for the first year.

Pre-paid vs credit card: Take your pick

A credit/debit card may charge an annual fee. The pre-paid petro cards, on the other hand, charge a one-time membership fee, which is non-refundable. Another catch is the waiver of the surcharge. You should know that for HPCL-ICICI Bank credit card, there is an extra charge of Rs 2 for all fuel purchase transactions that is less than Rs 400 made at HPCL outlets. Moreover, in case of a pre-paid card there are no late payment penalties or interest charges unlike credit cards. But, in the case of a pre-paid card you pay the oil company in advance for future petrol spends while in the case of a credit card you can get up to 45 days to settle your petrol bills.

How do you weigh your options?

The cue is if you are loyal to a particular petrol brand, then you would benefit from possessing a pre-paid petro card or a credit card. You can use rewards points for free fuel or gifts. If you do not patronise a single petrol pump/brand or don’t feel like carrying too many cards, you always have the option of paying cash.

Let me know if you use a pre-paid petro card. I would love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for reading this article. I'd love to hear your opinion. Please use the comments section below to share your thoughts. I frequently write new articles that also cover several other aspects of personal finance including credit cards, financial goals, health insurance, income tax, life insurance, mutual funds, retirement planning, and much more. You can Subscribe through Email and receive new articles directly in your Inbox or you can Subscribe through the RSS Feed and receive new articles in your feed reader.

{ 83 comments… read them below or add one }

Vishu January 11, 2007 at 11:01 AM

hey vinaya…
i used credit cards for most of my expenses in korea/japan, with no-defaults for last 4 years plus..for two that those country currency denominations were crazy that one needs to carry heaps of cash.. and other reason was, used to get lot of incentives and benefits on credit card purchases..infact i had collected bonus points of worth 1000$..i feel that credit card is a good if one can manage one’s finances well..ontra kalle (art) iiddange..india nalli same funda apply maddanna anta(compulsive shopper / guys with GF(s) please excuse)

mumbaikar January 21, 2007 at 4:37 AM

I prefer using a credit card for all my expenses becuase it provides me with the total picture of my spending trends and patterns. If a card compnay is willing to lend me money upto my credit limit during the grace period, then why should I not take it?

I agree with you that it can be easier said than done. As long as you pay off the charges every month, then you should be OK.

Using credit responsibly can open up further credits when you need it later in the life.

SHUBHAM KULSHRESTHA October 8, 2007 at 4:54 PM

I need a petro card..
How can I get petro card..



Kumaran October 15, 2007 at 1:54 PM

I prefer to use Credit cards. Indeed i am just holding the ABN bank card just ‘cos i can use it in any petrol bunk.

CC are safe until you know your limits for using them and stick to it. It really reduces the pain of carrying loads of cash.

manish November 22, 2007 at 2:53 PM


Anand December 5, 2007 at 5:49 PM

I would like to get a petro card for my emergency use.. so how can i do it and wherecan i get an application form.

Karthi January 23, 2008 at 1:42 PM

I need a petro card..
How can I get petro card

Anonymous January 25, 2008 at 3:50 PM

i want to know how can i will get my prize

Hari January 30, 2008 at 8:37 PM

I need a petro card
But, How can I get that


sanjay usmanpurkar April 9, 2008 at 8:01 PM

Do anybody know which non-co-branded-Credit card don’t charge surcharge for minimum petrol filled? eg Icici dont charge surcharge if one fills petrol of Rs 400/- and above. HDFC 250/-.

ankt May 12, 2008 at 12:47 PM

I need a petro card..
How can I get petro card

shyam choudhary May 27, 2008 at 12:32 PM

hi every body

if any body want to petro card contact me


Aarti Mahesh Kate July 5, 2008 at 12:36 PM

I need to apply for petrol/ disel card.


vijay July 25, 2008 at 6:37 PM

I need fleet petro card for around 25 small vehicles with insurancecover for drivers and other benefits like reward points for petrol/desiel refuelling.

REDDAPPA T August 4, 2008 at 4:49 PM


I need Petro card,

how to get, suggest me

thanks & Regards


Mr Anthony D'souza August 21, 2008 at 1:07 PM

Dear Sir,

I need a Petrocard, Kindly let me know how should I procure it.


Mr Anthony

k.suresh babu August 22, 2008 at 2:01 PM

Good morning
this is suresh and i am already of petro card no 7241760400683010
and i would like to create a new account of on line for that i need
user id and pass word

thanking you

Aditya kumar September 16, 2008 at 10:06 AM

I need a petro card..
How can I get petro card..
how to go for it & where

shivraj c kudtarkar September 17, 2008 at 4:58 PM

I need a petro card..
How can I get petro card..
how to go for it & where

B. Rajan September 25, 2008 at 5:08 PM

We, Sara International Ltd have got more than 10 vehicles. We are looking for a common Petro Card for all these vehicle. Could you advise the procedure for procuring this Petro Card.

B. Rajan

Sam September 27, 2008 at 8:25 PM

For those who are interested in getting Petro Cards, Citibank is providing this card. Please visit citibank website for details. I got this on purchase of maruti car, where there is tie up between citibank petro card and all IOC petrol pumps throughout India.

Praveen V M October 1, 2008 at 4:04 PM

I need a petro or Indian Oil Fuel Card how can i get it send me any cotact person number in bangalore City
Thanks and regards

vikrant d tambe March 25, 2009 at 10:49 PM

i want the petro card……. how will i get that……….please suggest me
or call me…………………. please its urgent
thank you

ARUN April 7, 2009 at 4:39 PM

hai this is arun
i need a pre-paid petrol card where i will get in hosur

Kishori LalGaur May 6, 2009 at 1:19 PM

Helloi am Gaur how ican get theindianoil petro card pls suggest me i need a petrol card pls its urgent

Kishori LalGaur May 6, 2009 at 1:20 PM

mobil no 9999484355

Bhaskar H A June 10, 2009 at 1:05 PM

i bhasakr H A working at karnartaka State Beverages Corporation Limited No 78, Mission Road Bangalore 5660 036. need s petro card to fuel our office vehicles. the fueling station should be near to office [KH { DOUBLE} ROAD, RICHMOND Circle, Bangalore]. Please send the details today only or contact us in person.

Bhaskar H A
Joint Manger ( Admn)
94489 90340

KRUNAL July 5, 2009 at 12:19 AM

i need a petrol card
plz send me contract number


kanagarajan January 12, 2010 at 9:00 PM

i need apetrocard

chandan January 16, 2010 at 8:41 PM

i need a petrol card send me details

sharath March 1, 2010 at 6:08 PM

i need petro card soon how can i get faster

sharath babu p March 1, 2010 at 6:09 PM

pls make fast process

niranjanreddy April 13, 2010 at 6:26 PM

i am using the petrocard it is very nice & usefull to anybody

keshav muthy May 19, 2010 at 10:34 AM

i need a petrol card pls send me details.
my mobile no is:+918050317984

sonu June 1, 2010 at 2:53 PM

How to get a petrocard ?

pankaj June 7, 2010 at 10:29 AM

how to get petrocard
my cell no. 9327132765

yaseen June 8, 2010 at 2:02 AM

i need a patrol card how i can get that in hyderabad i need that as soon as

yaseen June 8, 2010 at 2:03 AM


Sandeep Surve June 12, 2010 at 4:00 PM

I need a petro card, but how can i get it?

Mob no. 9833259772



Anonymous June 12, 2010 at 4:01 PM

I need a petro card, but how can i get it?

Mob no. 9833259772



rohit June 13, 2010 at 11:26 PM

i need a petro card pls my num is 9911527597 , 23921317

mohd javed July 5, 2010 at 12:39 PM

i need a petro card how will i get that please suggest me
or call me please its urgent
thank you
mohd javed

Rakesh Kumar paul July 22, 2010 at 1:03 PM

i wan one petro credit card from icici so plz contact in my no. 09396955481

Rishit August 3, 2010 at 7:55 AM

Bestest Article Dude…
Made up my mind…
Cash only Or Normal Credit Card.
because it says “”Select Pumps only & on ICICI Charge Slip Only”"…What are the odds?

samad hassan September 17, 2010 at 10:41 PM

i need pre paid petro card urgently!!!!!!!

santhosh October 12, 2010 at 8:57 PM


sanjay kumar November 25, 2010 at 4:22 PM

i need pre paid petro card urgently!!!!!!!
mo. 9634475440

dinesh dulhani December 27, 2010 at 7:16 PM


SADANAND January 20, 2011 at 5:31 PM


A>RAJESH March 17, 2011 at 6:04 PM

i need a p[etro card were shall i get

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