Paying cash for gas at the pump is an increasingly rare occurrence these days compared to debit and credit cards. Although you have several options to fuel your car, credit cards are convenient, secure and can even be very rewarding if you follow some basic guidelines.
How to use a credit card to buy gas
Most gas pumps will ask you to insert your card before you can pump. Follow the directions and be sure to select the “credit" option. Select your grade, start pumping and release the handle when you've reached the amount that you want to put in. If you don't want to do this manually, lock the handle in place, and the pump should stop automatically when your tank is full.
Some states don't allow you to pump your own gas, and some gas stations have “full-service" pumps. In both of these situations, a gas station employee will process your payment and pump your gas for you.
How to protect your credit card at the gas pump
You should keep receipts or digital records of your fuel transactions. In the event you have to dispute a transaction, the records can make the process smoother. Some stations will send you receipts automatically if you're enrolled in their rewards program.
However, gas pumps are common places for scammers to try installing credit card skimmers. They're usually mounted over or around the physical credit card reader and can steal your card's information.
Protecting your credit card at the gas pump
Here are some tips for using your card at gas stations with a little less stress:
Use a chip-enabled card
A card that uses this technology has a secure way of storing the card's information. Every time the card is accessed using the chip, the card's information is encrypted in a unique way. It's like a single-use digital signature that's difficult to copy or steal.
Use a contactless payment with your smart phone
To make a contactless purchase this way, you have to enter a security code or pass your phone's biometric screening. As a result, you can make yourself the only one able to access your credit card. Besides that, the contactless payment system generates an individual security code for each of your purchases.
Check for credit card skimmers
These devices have technology capable of stealing your card's information and exposing your account to fraud. Sometimes you can pull on the reader, and the skimmer will detach. That's your signal to avoid that pump.
If the credit card reader on the gas pump looks strange or tampered with, don't use it. You could also do the station a favor by showing an employee what you found.
Look for tamper-evident stickers
You can't always see a credit card skimmer because it could be installed inside the gas pump. If an unauthorized person has tried to access the inside of the pump, tamper-evident stickers may be broken or show “void." Unfortunately, these stickers can be fake, so if you're in doubt, don't use the pump at all.
Why use a credit card at gas stations?
- Security: Credit cards offer robust protection against identity theft and fraud. Many credit cards come with chips or contactless payment options, and both of these enhance security. Before you try to use contactless credit cards at gas stations, make sure the pump is equipped with a contactless card reader.
- Convenience: Credit cards are convenient ways to track gas purchases you want to expense or deduct. Let's say you're eligible for deducting your fuel expenses on your tax return. Your credit card account activity is often easy to access and filter for purchases like gas. This process can be much simpler than digging up all your old paper receipts.
- Rewards: Using credit cards at gas stations can offer you rewards for those purchases. The rewards you earn depend on the type of card and rewards program you have. You may also want to check rewards programs from the station or convenience store where you buy gas often. The combination of the two programs could deliver significant savings or perks.
Can I use my credit card to charge my electric vehicle?
Credit cards are accepted at most charging stations, and some charging networks have apps that accept card payments, too. Chances are, you'll need to use a public charging station from time to time even if you have one at home. When it comes to using your credit card at gas stations and charging stations, the reasons and benefits are pretty similar: security, convenience and rewards.
Which credit card to use at gas stations?
The best credit cards you can use for gas are cards that earn you bonus rewards for your purchases at gas stations. Chase offers a good selection of rewards credit cards, including:
- Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card: Offers 3% back on purchases from Amazon.com and Whole Foods Market, 2% back at restaurants and gas stations, and 1% back on other purchases.
"Gas stations" is a fairly common category for rewards credit cards, but your rewards will vary depending on the credit card you use at the pump. Compare credit cards before you apply and decide which is ideal for your spending habits and lifestyle.