You Could Soon Get a Free Chicago Gas Card. Here's How Much They're Worth, and What to Know

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With gas prices continuing to skyrocket across the country, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot last month announced residents will soon see some relief: If given the go-ahead by City Council, Chicago residents next week will have the chance to receive free gas and public transit cards across the city.

The "Chicago Moves" initiative will issue up to 50,000 pre-loaded gas cards worth $150 each, which will be distributed to residents through a lottery system, Lightfoot said in a press conference.

The program has yet to gain full approval by City Council, who's next meeting is April 27. However, as the program stands now, here's what to know about it.

How Many Gas Cards Would the City Give Away?

The initiative will issue up to 50,000 pre-loaded gas cards Lightfoot said in a press conference. The city will also issue 100,000 pre-loaded cards for public transit.

How Much is Each Gas Card Worth?

According to city officials, each gas card will be pre-loaded with $150 each. Cards for public transit will be loaded with $50 each.

How do I Get a Free Gas Card? Can Anyone Get One?

Chicago residents can begin applying for the cards on April 27, pending approval from City Council, the mayor said. Applications are limited to one per household.

To be eligible to receive one, applicants must:

  • Be a resident of Chicago
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a current and valid city sticker with correct mailing information for their vehicle
  • Have a household income at or below 140 percent of the Area Median Income for Chicago

The Chicago-Sun Times reports that Mayor Lightfoot’s plans to reserve 75 percent of gas cards for residents of South and West Side neighborhoods defined as “high-mobility hardship.”

When Would the City Start to Distribute the Gas Cards?

Cards will be distributed starting in May to waves of 10,000 residents. Residents are expected to be able to apply for the cards beginning April 27.

Are There Any Other Free Gas Card Giveaways Happening?

Chicago Businessman Willie Wilson, who has announced he has entered the 2023 race for mayor, recently gave away $1.2 million in gas cards and called Lightfoot's plan a “political stunt.”

George Mycyk, NBC Chicago
Cars line up for the senior gas giveaway at Bloom Township on April 19, 2022.

There is a suburban gas giveaway for seniors scheduled for Tuesday in North Chicago at Bloom Township Center. Here are the details:

  • Time: 9 a.m. - 1p.m.
  • Where: Bloom Township Center, 425 S. Halsted, Chicago Heights
  • Contact: 708-754-9400
  • Eligibility: In order to qualify, seniors have to be a resident of Bloom Township, 65 years of age or older, present a valid state ID or driver’s License, and current mail with matching address. The Senior Gas Relief Program is designed to assist seniors with the financial demand of the increased cost of gasoline.

As of Tuesday, the national average price for a regular gallon of gas is $4.101, according to AAA. In Illinois, the average price for a regular gallon of gas is slightly higher, at $4.348. That's down a bit from a month ago, when Illinois' average gas gallon cost $4.518.

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