4 Tips for Paying at the Gas Pump

Man smiling after paying for gas with his debit card at a gas station.

Should you use a debit card to pay for gas? Wondering how to use a credit card at the gas pump safely? Once you insert your card into the pump and choose credit or debit, you’re ready to get started, using these tips to avoid card skimming devices, protect your checking account, your other bank accounts, and your identity. Here’s how to practice better card safety at the gas station.

When you are smart about how you pay, it can be safe and easy to use a card to pay for gas. Once you pull up to the pump (make sure you’re close enough for the hose to reach your tank!), it’s time to insert your credit or debit card into the machine. Most machines will ask you to remove your card again right away, but newer machines require leaving your card in longer, so pay attention to the directions.

Next, you’ll be asked whether you want to pay with cash or pay with a credit or debit card, at which point, you select which type of card you want to use.

The instructions will ask you to enter some of your card information (including a PIN if you’ve indicated that you’re using a debit card), as well as your zip code. If you have a rewards card, you’ll be prompted to enter that information, as well.

Once your transaction is approved, you’ll be prompted to select your grade of gasoline and you’re ready to fill your gas tank. That’s it, right? Too easy.

However, you may be wondering if that’s all that really happens when you buy gas.

Card or Cash? Making Sure Your Gas Purchase Safe

How many times have you heard some version of the saying, “It’s not safe to use your debit card at a gas pump?” Or to use it really anywhere for that matter?

The truth is, when you are smart about how you pay, it’s usually safe to use your debit card anywhere.

While fraudsters are notorious for doing things like placing card skimming devices on gas pumps, falling victim to these and other scams doesn’t have to be inevitable. Here are some ways you can look for tell-tale signs of fraud, protect your sensitive information, and be plain smart when you pay at the pump.

1. Choose Credit

Like every tip on this list, this first recommendation is simple (and easy!). Even if you’re technically paying for your gas with your debit card, when prompted to choose if the card you’re using is a debit or credit card, always select “credit.”

The reason to do this is in order to bypass the pump asking you for your PIN. Your PIN is crucial to accessing your accounts, so keeping it a secret is non-negotiable. Not entering your pin at the pump helps ensure that the fraudster has one less bit of key information about your card.

2. Pump near the door

Fraudsters choose their gas pumps wisely, so you have to be wiser. When picking their target, they usually opt to outfit the pump that is farthest from the on-site convenience store. This way, their activity is out of the range of any security cameras at the store’s entrance.

With this in mind, you can take simple steps to protect yourself. When deciding where to park your car to refill, choose the pump that is closest to the store, and always cover the number pad with your hand when inputting your information. Remember, protecting that PIN is vital!

Keeping the number pad and screen covered is a simple, effective way to keep things like your PIN number or zip code safe from prying eyes.

3. Look for signs of tampering

Check out the card reader very carefully. You want to avoid using a machine that’s been tampered with by adding a

Ask yourself some of the following questions before you insert your card to reduce the risk of being a victim of tampering:

  • Do the numbers on the PIN pad look raised? Do they look newer or bigger than the rest of the machine?
  • Does anything look like it doesn’t belong?
  • Does the card reader feel loose when you attempt to put in your card?
  • Is the fuel pump’s seal broken?

These can be bright red flags that the card reader may have been fitted with a skimming device.

4. Use your tech resources

There are several free anti-skimming apps you can install on your phone, such as Skimmer Scanner. Using these apps, you can scan a card reader for a skimming device and get an alert if one is detected. You can also check your phone’s Bluetooth to see if any strange letters or numbers appear under “other devices.”

Shopping Safe is Part of Shopping Smart with a Greater Texas or Aggieland Credit Union Visa Debit Card

Whether paying at the pump, a retail establishment, or online shopping, the purchases you make with your Greater Texas or Aggieland Credit Union Visa debit card are protected with Visa Zero Liability*.

Visa Zero Liability is just like an insurance policy on your debit card. If your card is ever lost, stolen, or compromised, it ensures that you will not be liable for any fraudulent charges. You will receive a full refund. For added peace of mind, your card is also protected by 24/7 fraudulent transaction monitoring.

With these tips, resources, and Greater Texas Credit Union card features, you can now be a smarter and more confident card user when you pay at the pump.

*Visa’s Zero Liability Policy covers U.S. – issued cards and does not apply to certain commercial card transactions or any transactions not processed by Visa. You must notify your financial institution immediately of any unauthorized use. For specific restrictions, limitations and other details, please consult your issuer.