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The Best Credit Card for Petrol in Singapore

by Apoorv Trivedi on
Best Card for Petrol

The Bottom Line

Choose the petrol station that is most convenient for you and then choose the best card for that retailer.

If more than one retailer is located equally conveniently for you, our ranking for choosing one would be:

1. SPC: consistently lower prices, by 1-4%

2. Esso: widest network and consistently second lowest prices by 1-2%

3. Shell: wider network than Caltex

4. Caltex: much smaller network and prices on par with Shell

5. Sinopec: if you stay or work near one of their three locations

For SPC we recommend the POSB Everyday Card which has the highest discount without any conditions.

If you care primarily about having convenient access to a station all over Singapore, Citi Cash Back Card provides good discounts at both Esso and Shell, letting you fill up at more than 120 stations in Singapore. However if you do not meet the monthly minimum spend, the discount falls dramatically.

For Esso, we recommend the DBS Esso Card, which has the second highest discount without any conditions and a relatively low minimum spend requirement to get the higher discounts.

For Caltex, we recommend the OCBC 365 Cashback Card as it provides the highest discount at Caltex if you spend S$800 or more a month on it although it does have a S$80 monthly cashback cap.

Remember to sign up for the loyalty program of your retailer, as discounts can be much lower otherwise. Signing up is free for all petrol loyalty programs.

Our Pick for Cheapest Petrol
POSB Everyday Credit Card
Best Card for SPC Stations

SPC usually has the lowest list prices and POSB Everyday Credit Card offers the highest unconditional discount of 20.1% at SPC.

Our pick for Widest Network
Citi Cash Back Card
Best discounts at all Esso & Shell Stations

Citi Cash Back Card offers the best discounts of 21.80% at Esso & Shell, as long as you charge more than S$800 a month on all items

Our pick for Esso
DBS Esso Card
High discount with low spend

DBS Esso Card has the highest unconditional discount of 19.1% at Esso pumps and a low minimum spend requirement to get the highest discount of 21.4%.

Our pick for Caltex
OCBC 365 Credit Card
Best discounts at Caltex

OCBC 365 Cashback Credit Card offers a 22.7% discount at Caltex but caps total cashback at S$80

If you found this useful, consider signing up for your preferred cards via the link above. This gives you access to the best deals and helps us maintain the site.


How to use this guide

To find the best credit card for your petrol purchases, first find out which petrol retailer is most conveniently located for you. Discounted prices do not differ a lot between retailers so convenience is the most important factor here.

Pumps from different retailers tend to cluster together so more than one may be equally convenient for you. In that case see our rankings above.

Once you choose one or if you already have a favorite retailer, decide if you want a card just for petrol or if you don’t want to manage more than 1-2 cards in your wallet and plan to put a lot of other spend on that card as well.

If you are looking for a card just for petrol, you may not be able to meet the minimum spend requirements to get the full discount on some of the cards. In that case you should look at the first table below,  titled “Best Credit Cards for Basic Discounts” in the table below and select the card listed for your favorite retailer.

If you think you can meet the minimum spend requirement for the cards, usually by putting additional non-petrol spend on the card, you should look at the table titled “Best Credit Cards for Enhanced Discounts”.


How we selected

Finding the best card for buying petrol (or anything else!) is not easy. There are many terms and conditions to work through before you can figure out the discount you are likely to get for your purchases on a credit card.

There are multiple layers of discount, some immediate, some rebated at a future date, some in form of vouchers and some as cash, some if you hit a minimum monthly spend and some if you hit a minimum transaction size, some given on the card and some by the retailer.

Petrol Retailer Reward Programs

Reward Program Reward Into Cash Discount
(min)
Discount
(max)
Esso Smiles 1 Liter = 1 Point 300 Points = S$10
750 Points = S$30
1.1% 1.3%
Shell Escape 1 Liter = 1 Point 150 Points = S$5
1100 Points = S$40
1.1% 1.3%
Caltex Plus! 1 Liter = 2 Points 100 Points = S$1 0.67%

We went through every card offered by the major retail banks in Singapore (3 local and 3 foreign) and shortlisted the ones with the best discounts for petrol purchases.

Then we combed through the terms and conditions for earning various discounts on each card.

We split the discounts into two types. First, all discounts that are available without any condition or the basic discounts, if you use the card to buy petrol. These can come to you in any form, instant discount, cashback, reward point etc. but they are guaranteed no matter what else you do with the card.

Unlike what most price comparison websites show, we also looked at the rewards offered by the retailer and added that to the discounts available on the card. This way we can figure out the true cost to you.

Next, we looked at the conditional discounts. Ones where you need to meet a condition, usually minimum monthly spend, in order to enjoy the discount. The most common condition was a minimum monthly spend of S$800, but there were some with much lower or higher minimum spends.

Finally we chose the cards offering the best unconditional (or basic) discounts for each retailer and in case you are comfortable hitting those minimum spends, the cards with the best conditional (or Enhanced) discounts for each retailer as well.

Best Credit Cards for Basic Discounts

Petrol Retailer Stations Credit Card Basic
Discount*
Breakdown
SPC 40 POSB Everyday 20.10% 15% Instant Discount, 6% Rebate
Esso 61 DBS Esso 19.10% 18% Instant Discount, 1.11% Smiles Reward
Shell 57 UOB One 18.10% 17% Instant Discount, 1.11% Escape Reward
Caltex 26 OCBC Voyage 19.50% 19% Instant Discount, 0.67% Plus! Reward
OCBC Premier Visa Infinite 19.50% 19% Instant Discount, 0.67% Plus! Reward
* Discounts you get without needing to meet any condition on minimum spends etc.

Best Credit Cards for Enhanced Discounts

Petrol Retailer Stations Credit Card Enhanced
Discount*
Condition
SPC 40 POSB Everyday 21.80% S$800 min. mthly spend
UOB One 22.10% S$2000 min. mthly spend
Esso 61 Citi Cash Back 21.80% S$800 min. mthly spend
DBS Esso 21.40% S$180 min. mthly spend,
at Esso
Shell 57 Citi Cash Back 21.80% S$800 min. mthly spend
UOB One 20.80% S$2000 min. mthly spend
Caltex 26 OCBC 365 22.70% S$800 min. mthly spend,
S$80 mthly cashback cap
* Discounts you get if you meet conditions on minimum spends etc.


Which is the best petrol retailer in Singapore?

The short answer is that the retailer most conveniently located for you is the best retailer for you. There isn’t that much difference between in the retailers in terms of pricing and likely none in the quality of fuel.

There is a slightly longer answer too though and what kind of geeks would we be if we didn’t take a shot at that one?

Despite the retailers efforts with fancy branding and marketing, the consensus among auto experts is that most of us will do just fine buying the cheapest variety of fuel available. In Singapore that’s usually the grade 92 petrol.

Unless your car manual specifically recommends a higher grade, you should buy the cheapest one as most cars these days can handle it perfectly well.

Since we are looking at a commodity, the choice of the best retailer boils down to the size of their network and the price of the fuel.

Network Esso has the largest network in Singapore with 61 pumps, followed by Shell (57), SPC (40) and Caltex (26). Sinopec brings up the rear with 3 pumps.

So the ranking here is quite clear.

Price We looked at the historical price data by retailer provide by the excellent Motorist and Fuel Kaki websites.

While its correct that the differences in prices between retailers are small, a closer look clearly shows that a systematic difference does exist.

We looked at the data for the last 9 months available on the Motorist website for this analysis. We have requested them to share a longer history and if they do so we will updated this analysis.

Grade 95 is the only grade offered by all retailers. Looking at the price chart from the Motorist, its quite clear that SPC is usually the last retailer to raise prices and they are consistently cheaper than the other by about 3-5 cents/ltr. There were periods when they were cheaper by nearly 10cents/ltr.

SPC Price History
SPC Prices are consistently 1-4% lower than others for Grade 95
Esso Price History
Esso Prices are often marginally lower than Caltex & Shell
Shell Price History
Shell is consistently the most expensive retailer
Caltex Price History
Caltex prices are similar to Shell

That’s not a lot but its not nothing either. In percentage terms that’s between 1-4% cheaper, consistently.

This pattern is present across the grades – SPC has consistently been the cheapest in Singapore. Now, this is based only on about 9 months data when prices have been rising. Its possible that SPC is not cheaper, its just slower to react.

SPC 92
SPC is the cheapest for Grade 92
SPC 98
SPC is the cheapest for Grade 98

If that’s the case, when prices start falling we would expect them to be the most expensive. In the chart above, prices fall around 15 Mar 2022. You can see that SPC is the last to cut prices, but when they cut, they again end up about 1cent lower than the rest. Again around 20 Mar 2022, you can see that they are the slowest to react and raise prices.

Excluding SPC from the chart shows that Esso is the next cheapest while Caltex and Shell are very close and the most expensive.

Card Discounts We also looked at how much discounts the best cards for each retailer offered and also how easy it was to get those discounts.

For instance, the highest discount you can get at SPC without worrying about the minimum monthly spend is 20.10% with the POSB Everyday card. For Shell that is only 18.33% with the UOB One card.

That’s a gap of nearly 2%. Again not a lot, but when you consider that SPC is also usually cheaper by about 2-3%, you’re suddenly looking at a difference of 4-5% in total. That may not make a dent in the down payment for that Ferrari you’ve been eyeing, but its not nothing.

The gap narrows once you hit the minimum monthly spends since the best cards for both retailers give you about a 22% discount. But we think Shell still looks worse here.

That’s because the UOB One card has a S$2000 minimum spend requirement for the maximum discount at Shell. The Citi Cash Back card has a lower threshold of S$800, but if you miss it, you get bumped to a 15.4% discount, which is a steep penalty.

The POSB Everyday card is much simpler at SPC. S$800 minimum spend to get the maximum discount of 21.80% and if you miss it, you still end up with a solid 20.10% discount, which given their lower prices is probably close to what you would get with the maximum discount anywhere else.


The cheapest petrol: SPC with POSB Everyday Card

If you have a SPC station conveniently accessible on your routine commute, you should buy your petrol there with the POSB Everyday card. SPC has the lowest list prices and POSB Everyday card gets you the highest discount on those without any minimum spend requirement.

SPC has only 40 stations in Singapore though, about a third lower than Esso and Shell, meaning they are not as easy to find.


The widest network at a reasonable price: Esso with DBS Esso Card

Esso has the widest network of pumps in Singapore and usually the second lowest list prices of all major retailers. DBS Esso card gets you the best discount at Esso without any minimum spend requirement. If you spend $180 per month on petrol, then you get the higher 21.90% discount.

DBS Esso also automatically enrolls you into the Esso Smiles program, which is a nice touch, since most other cards require a separate sign up for the retailers loyalty program.

While the spend requirement is lower, note that it is restricted to spending at the pump only. Depending on your usage pattern, Citi Cash Back card may work better at Esso. It gets you a 21.8% discount with a minimum monthly spend of S$800 (anywhere, not just at the pump, unlike DBS Esso.). If you miss the minimum monthly spend, remember that you get bumped to only a 15.4% discount.


The most convenient: Esso & Shell with Citi Cash Back Card

If you just want the best network without being too price sensitive, Citi Cash Back card offers a 21.80% discount at both Esso and Shell, the two pumps with the widest networks. This gives you access to nearly 120 pumps all over the island. Remember though that if you fail to meet the minimum monthly spend requirement of S$800, you only get a 15.3% discount.


How we calculated the discounts

Understanding the discounts on each card can be confusing. There are multiple types of discounts: site discount, retailer membership discount, credit card discount, cashback, cash voucher, points.

And these discounts apply at different points, some on the list price of petrol, others on the price after all prior discounts have been applied and yet others are rebated to you at month end or quarter end.

Here are a couple of examples of how we calculated the discounts.

POSB Everyday Card This card offers 10% instant discount for SPC&U Card holders, which is the loyalty program of SPC. There is an additional 5% instant discount for DBS / POSB card holders, for a total of 15% instant discount.

There is a further 6% cash rebate on the discounted amount for a total of 20.1%, unconditional discount, the highest unconditional discount of any card in Singapore.

Hitting the minimum spend of S$800 per month gets you an additional 2% cash rebate, for a total of 21.8% conditional discount.

DBS Esso Card This card offers 18% instant discount, and a $7 cashback if you spend more than $180 on fuel in a month. It also get the 1.11% Smiles discount.

So that gives you 19.11% unconditional discount.

To calculate the % discount implied by the $7 cashback, we assume a consumption of 100lts/month at the current list price, S$3 for 95 grade. That works out to an additional discount of 2.33% for a total conditional discount of 21.4%.

Citi Cash Back Card This card offers 5% Shell site discount, 5% Shell Escape program discount and 4% Citi card discount, for a total of 14% instant discount on the list price of petrol. This is the standard discount that many Citibank cards offer at Shell.

The Cash Back card also promises up to 8% cashback on petrol spend. This is split in to 0.25% cashback on all petrol spend and an additional 7.75% cashback if you spend more than S$800 on the card in a given month.
Apart from this, the Shell Escape program also gives 1 reward point for every liter of petrol purchased. 150 points get you S$5 off on petrol while 1100 points get you $40 off.

It makes sense to wait to cash out till you hit the 1100 points. But because this effective discount will come to you with a 6-12 month lag, we used the lower conversion rate of 150lts = S$5 discount in our calculation.

Assuming a price of S$3/lt, this is an additional 1.1% discount.

Of these, the 14% instant, the 0.25% cashback and the 1.11% Smiles discount are unconditional, while the 7.75% cashback depends on spending more than $800 a month on the card i.e. conditional.

The 14% instant and the 1.11% Smiles discount apply on the list price of petrol while the cashbacks apply on the net price i.e. the price after the other two discounts.

Putting all this together we get an unconditional discount of 15.3% and a conditional discount of 21.8%.

Citi Cash Back Card also offer nearly identical benefits at Esso as well.

UOB One Credit Card This card offers different discounts at SPC and Shell pumps.

For SPC, there is a 15% instant discount, $3 off on petrol receipts of more than $60 at list price, and discounts ranging from 3.33% to 5% depending on your monthly spend. So that adds up to 18% instant discount (we assume the $3 off happens on a receipt of $100, for 3% discount).

The conditional discount ranges from 20.7% to 22.1% although the hurdle for the higher discount is a minimum spend of S$2000 every month in a quarter. You get bumped to the lower 3.33% cashback if you miss the S$2000 spend in any month. The 5% cashback is also capped at $300 per quarter meaning if you spend more than S$2000, you get a lower effective discount rate.

We assume the lower 3.33% in our calculations.

For Shell, the instant discount is 17% with another 1.11% coming from the Shell Escape program for a total 18.1% unconditional discount.

The conditional discount ranges from 20.8 to 22.2% depending on how much you spend in a month and a quarter. The details are the same as for SPC i.e. the higher discount requires spending more than S$2000 a month, every month in a quarter, with a cap of S$300 on the total cashback for the quarter.


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DG
7 months ago

UOB One looks pretty good too?

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