Using a credit card at a gas pump is one of the easiest credit transactions you can do, and it can be learned very quickly and easily. The transaction requires no human interaction, no signature, and no waiting in line. If you have ever used a credit card for anything, you will have no problem using one at the gas pumps.
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To use your credit card at the gas pump, usually you first need to press the “credit card” button. Next, you would swipe your credit card and, if asked, enter your zip code. Finally, you would choose the type of gasoline you want and push the start button before pumping the gas.
Advantages of Using Credit Cards to Pay at the Pump
For the consumer, the major advantage to using a credit card to pay at the pump at a gas station is convenience. You do not need to walk into the station and wait in line to pay for your purchase. In terms of security, paying at the pump reduces the risk that you’re going to leave your card at the counter or have a cashier forget to give it back to you. It also reduces the risk that someone will look over your shoulder and memorize your name and account number.
For the merchant, customers paying at the pump can reduce theft and increase efficiency. According to an article in USA Today, gasoline theft cost the fuel industry in excess of 90 million dollars in 2009, and a fair portion of that was in “drive off” thefts. Since a gas pump, which is only “pay at the pump” will not work until someone uses a credit card; such a pump would essentially prevent drive-off thefts. The pumps would also increase efficiency by allowing many customers to pay simultaneously.
Other Types of Merchants Offer Self-Service Credit Card Transactions
Self-serve credit card transactions are becoming more and more prevalent in the world these days. Even if you don’t count the obvious example of getting cash from an ATM, you still have movie kiosks, vending machines, parking meters and various other lockbox type devices that accept credit cards.
Also gaining in popularity are self-service lines at the grocery or department store. There have been self-serve credit card swipes in checkout lines for quite awhile, but they would be cashier-assisted and often require them to hit a “credit” key to activate the device.
Many stores offer consumers the chance to scan and bag their own groceries and pay for them with their credit card, all without ever seeing a cashier.
Credit Card vs. Key Fob or Speedpass
In terms of an item being stolen and used by a criminal, a credit card is safer because for many transactions, the thief would still need to sign. In addition, you are more likely to notice and report a missing credit card than a key fob. However, with current technology, it is actually harder for a hacker to read the information on a key fob than a credit card, whereas devices to read and even change the information on magnetic stripe credit cards have been around for years.
Credit Card vs. Debit Card Safety
In general, a credit card is safer than a debit card for most transactions, including self-serve ones. One major reason for the difference in safety is the difference between a signature, as most credit card transactions require, and a pin number, as most debit card transactions require.
Even at a self-service kiosk, someone standing nearby could see and memorize your pin, but they are not likely to learn how to write your signature.
According to Kiplinger, a pin transaction will be processed within 24 hours while a credit card transaction may take up to three days. This means that it’s a little easier to cancel a credit card transaction before any damage is done. Another thing worth mentioning is that in general it is easier to resolve store disputes involving a credit card, since a credit card company will often give you your money back immediately and work with the merchant directly to get themselves reimbursed. With a debit card, it’s up to you to convince the merchant to refund your money.
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