The holiday season is one for joyful celebration, thankfulness, and traveling to visit loved ones. During your travels, you might be tempted by a low posted price at the gas station, but make sure to pay attention to what your fuel is really costing you.
Debit and Credit Cards Can Increase Prices
Often, fuel prices posted on the main signs show the cash only price, and the station could charge as much as 10-15 cents more per gallon for the convenience of swiping your card at the pump. While stations are required to post the increased price of credit and debit card transactions, the label is usually as small as a normal 4×6 photograph!
Gas stations often will put a hold on your card when you swipe for fill-up, and this can be as much as $75 for several days. You can avoid the hold if you go inside and specify how much you want the card run for.
You can avoid the higher cost by using only cash, or you can purchase prepaid cards from the gas station before you go. If you do opt to buy the prepaid cards, make sure to map out your route and make sure you’ll be able to find those stations along your route.
Be Watchful For Signs of Fraud
Electronic skimmers have been around for a long time, but the devices are well camouflaged and often pass unnoticed. Thieves install the small devices into existing card readers, which collect card information whenever a card is swiped. Don’t use any card reader that appears to be loose or damaged, and look out for signs of tampering. Going inside to pay minimizes the risk of having your card numbers stolen by these devices.
Some gas stations have added special stickers that are designed to show if a pump or card reader has been tampered with, so be sure to pay attention to these also.
Cash is Safest
Not only will cash get you the low price that attracted your business in the first place, but it will protect your identity and avoid problems with your accounts being overcharged or overdrawn. It might be inconvenient to go inside to pay, but it’s far better than the work of repairing your identity.
Your holiday travel plans don’t have to increase your risk of credit card fraud or identity theft. With a little pre-planning and a healthy dose of caution, you can enjoy your trip and protect your good name.