Enter zip code when buying gas w/ credit card

I had to drive down to L.A. 2 months ago, and bought gas along the way. As is usual, I had to enter my zip code when paying w/ cc at the pump. Since I’ve been back, though, I’ve had to do the same thing everytime I buy gas at the station around the corner. Am I going to have to do this for the rest of my life?

I’ve had this happen every other time I’ve taken a trip out of town, but I only had to do the zip code thing once after I returned, and then things were back to normal. I must’ve bought gas at least half a dozen times now, and I’m still punching in that freakin’ zip code. Anyone know what’s going on and how I can get off the zip code treadmill? I tried talking to the attendant, but you can imagine how much info that guy had…

It’s a security thing. Here’s a random article that explains it. From that article:

As for your email…

Yes. Well, maybe. At least until we implant the credit microchip in your hand.

Pay cash or pay with your debit card. Of course if you use your debit card, you will have to enter your pin.

Or move. Around here, I’ve never had to enter my Zip code at the pump; just swipe and go.

Also, which credit card are you using? The Chevron I generally gas up at near my house has the ZIP code thing for Visa, MasterCard, and probably the other major cards as well, but does not have a mandatory ZIP code entry when using my Chevron credit card.

One of the stupid things with this system is that many people have more than one zip code.
Anyone who gets mail at the Post Office, for example. Or if they move and the record isn’t updated correctly.

It took me forever to realize my card was being declined because I had moved but my old PO box zip was still stuck in the system. When I tried to fix it, they said I couldn’t unless I got a secondary zip. So, what the heck, I had my billing statement sent to an “alternate address” which was my address with a “-B” after the street number, which still ended up in my box. Ah, modern problems!

I once had some problem at a gas station in my neighborhood where I inserted my card and then had to cancel the purchase a few times. I forget why. I think I the pump was balky.

Anyway, after I did that, my card was frozen by the issuer for a day until I called them all up and told them it was OK. I was also told not to do that at a gas station anymore.

I’m not sure you quite understand how the system works. The only Zip code that matters is the one that’s attached to your credit card account. I’ve had no trouble updating that when need be, so I’m not sure why you couldn’t change it.

In my case it’s Chevron/VISA. Maybe it’s just a coincidnece that this new policy started as soon as I got back form LA, but I’ve seen this thing before-- use your cc out of town and you have to enter zip code even when you’re home, but that was always for the first use only.

Maybe I’ll give the VISA folks a call. I hate carrying a bunch of store-specific credit cards around in my wallet.

I mistyped my ZIP once at a pump, and it still took it and pumped gas.

If the local gas station has a pattern of fraudulent credit card use, then it’s quite likely that the policy of entering zip codes will remain indefinitely. The gas station wants to get paid. The credit card companies don’t want to have to deal with the fraud.

Of all the hassles in life, entering my zip code at a gas pump ranks pretty low.

So you’re saying you try to use your card without a ZIP being asked; then authorization is attempted; and then you’re asked for the ZIP, and then authorization continues after you’ve provided a ZIP? That is, the system is specifically targeting you for a ZIP?

At home in Michigan I’ve never encountered a single machine that asks for a ZIP, but in my travels and travails about the country I’ve run into sprinklings of them, and in no case was the machine targeting me – it was too quick. Insert card and withdraw it quickly, and the ZIP was asked for immediately. There was no communication back to my bank until after entering the ZIP.

I wish entering a “postal code” worked here on the road. As is none of the gas stations here take my credit card at the pump. At least they don’t have the stupid pay-in-advance mentality yet so paying inside doesn’t involve two trips back and forth. (southern Ontario here)

I have done this too and it worked. I figured it was instead of a signature (since there is none at pay at the pump). Just something to link the person to the card, not that anyone really checks either, but at least the merchant can provide something if there is a dispute.

Perhaps there are 2 systems, one verified the zip, and the other is just for merchant records?

Sometimes, merchants ask for zipcodes in order to have a ready-made batch of information about where their customers come from. Thus, for example, you might be asked for your zip code at a Bed, Bath & Beyond if they are attempting to find out where their customer base is; a heavy concentration of zipcodes from outside the close local area may be an indication that a new store there would be a good idea. I’ve had this happen a lot.

In those cases, bogus zipcodes won’t affect the purchase.

Like being “short” at the end of a pay period, so you have to rush the paycheck to the bank’s drive-through before it closes? And being sure to get sufficient cash back when making the deposit?

Then, rushing to the nearest filling station, since you’re also low on gas? (Bank located near downtown–few gas pumps located near downtown.) Great–made it before closing time!

Perhaps you were too efficient to “run short”–but I wasn’t. Those “newfangled” direct deposit paychecks & gas pumps that read cards actually make life easier for many of us. I’ll gladly enter my zipcode if needed.

My business uses a credit card reader to bill clients. Since we do most of our business through the mail, that means punching in the credit card number manually. About half of the time, the device asks for a ZIP code. Sometimes we have that information at hand, sometimes not. In about 99% of the cases when we don’t have the client’s ZIP code, we enter our own instead, and the transaction goes through without a hitch (though the receipt will indicated “NO MATCH” or “VERIFICATION UNAVAILABLE”). On some occasions (two that I can recall), the credit card company refused to clear the transaction when the ZIP code we entered didn’t match the client’s address. IIRC, both times the client’s card was frozen and they had to call their credit card company to clear up the problem and allow the transaction to go through.

What do Canadians do when they’re buying gas in the States and need to enter their postal code? :confused: I don’t recall ever seeing a gas pump with an alphanumeric keypad.

At my grocery, credit card purchases made in the customer checkout lanes (as contrasted to those lanes with a live, signature-checking checker) require a zip code.

It’s a security thing and apparantly it is targeted at certain stations. If you use an Exxon Mobile Speedpass some stations will ask you to enter a zip code, others wont. If the station has a history of a significant amount of fraudulent use then entering a zip code becomes an additional security measure.

The gas station at which I work in California has a significant number of out-of-country visitors. They have to bring the card inside and show some form of ID.


I had the opposite problem when I was first moving to Ontario… I tried to use my U.S. card at a few pumps in Ontario, and they kept flashing to “Please See Attendant”… Whenever I went to see the attendant, they told me I couldn’t use an American credit card… Gee, thanks…

Now that I’m living here, I’m still getting used to being able to buy gas without having to pay first… You can either pay first with a card, or fill up and then go and pay the attendant.

It’s like the gas stations in Toronto actually trust people… :eek: