By on January 8, 2020

You’ve probably noticed retailers are increasingly using the little chip on your credit or debit card to accept transactions. Unfortunately, fueling stations have been slower to adopt the change in digital security, as it requires more than simply putting a new screen at the checkout counter. Gas stations have to install expensive new pumps, which is why you tend to see more chip readers at the larger stations. Costco will definitely have them, but that little convenience store near your house where you fill up on Monday mornings may not.

Unfortunately, station operators that haven’t updated their pumps by October 2020 will become liable for any credit card fraud that occurs at their businesses now that Visa and Mastercard have rejected a request to further delay the deadline for chip readers.

While many retailers started making changes in 2015, a nationwide conversion was estimated to cost the industry roughly $3.9 billion — with many embracing the five-year extension credit offered by various firms. But that dries up this fall, and it’s looking like a lot of stations won’t make the deadline.

“[The industry is] massively under-prepared,” Joshua Smith, chief executive officer of Gas Pos, a vendor for point-of-sale systems, told Bloomberg this week. “There’s not enough technicians to do the installments … There’s not enough inventory. Even if there were enough contractors, there’s not enough dispensers available.”

Businesses that fail to upgrade could face costs of as much as $201,000 per store over the next seven years, according to data compiled by Conexxus. The industry group anticipates those it represents to endure $451 million in collective card fraud in 2020.

From Bloomberg:

In a 2019 survey by Conexxus, a non-profit that represents convenience stores, almost 70 [percent] of respondents who own a convenience store said they haven’t upgraded any outside pumps to the new so-called EMV [chip-based] technology.

Few companies manufacture the required pumps. Those that do — such as Dover Corp. or Fortive Corp.’s Gilbarco Veeder-Root — have said they’re expecting an increase in sales ahead of the deadline. Once the hardware is installed, fuel companies must have the pump software certified.

In the survey, over half of the participants cited a lack of available software for not having chip technology fully deployed, while about 15 percent faulted a shortage of hardware. The National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) has also placed blame on the shoulders of Visa and Mastercard for not working with the industry when it came to establishing deadlines.  However, the credit industry says EMV chip readers are far more secure than the old swipe system and are already the standard in places like Europe. It’s also becoming the norm for U.S. retailers, with fueling stations lagging far behind in overall adoption.

“There’s going to be quite a surprise come October,” Laura Townsend, senior vice president of the Merchant Advisory Group, explained. “Folks that have been trying to transition to EMV will be unable to because of things outside their control. But they will bear a significant increase in losses either come October or shortly thereafter because we know fraudsters will find the weakest link.”

[Image: Michael Vi/Shutterstock]

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59 Comments on “U.S. Gas Stations Need to Update Payment Systems ASAP...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    One regional chain of Giant and Mustang gas stations was taken over by Speedway. Immediate facelifts for every store including new card readers at the pumps.

    Most of the locations became so pleasant (by comparison to other gas stations) I signed up for their rewards program. (Unfortunately I don’t live close enough to my Costco to fill up there all the time.)

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    No big deal here in Ontario where chip readers have been standard at most gas stations, restaurants and retail establishments for around a decade.Even corner stores have that technology.

    Most gas stations allow you to ‘tap and go’ at the pump.

    The only retailers I have visited over the past couple of years who don’t have ‘tap and go’ technology for some reason are Wal-Mart and Home Depot.

  • avatar
    Lockstops

    Ugh, just skip that stage completely! The world has advanced past that already!

    I really enjoy just selecting the appropriate company’s app, selecting the correct station (the nearest one is automatically suggested first), then when pulling up to the pump selecting the pump’s number on the app, then the app prepares the pump (depending on the company the app asks for my pin code before or after selecting the pump number). So I just get out of the car and fill up the tank (no, Americans, I don’t pump the gas since there is an electric pump to do that for me). I also automatically get a receipt to the app and get all applicable discounts attached to my account.

    Really handy especially in the winter. To be honest I’m stupidly excited about this tech, I actually look forward to gas station visits.

    • 0 avatar
      jack4x

      That sounds a lot more complicated than my two step process:

      1. Swipe or insert credit card.

      2. Pump gas.

      It also has the side benefit of not storing my CC info on my phone with yet another third party.

      • 0 avatar
        redgolf

        jack4x – Insert card when prompted for debit or credit I always select credit ( using my debit card) then prompted for my zip code, boy I must be boring Lockstops! Such a long and tedious process! I feel like an old timer, wait I am an old timer! Hahahahahaha! With plenty of time on my retired body/hands !

      • 0 avatar
        Lockstops

        No, you have to get your wallet out, go to the machine (ok, maybe over there the card reader is on the pump itself?), insert your card (hoping it’s not skimmed), punch in pin and zip etc., then put away your wallet, and then later also get your receipt.

        With the app you touch the icon, select the station which is right there ready on the screen, punch in your pin all while driving. No extra time wasted. Not a single second standing in the snowstorm. Only thing you have to do ‘extra’ over just driving and filling up, is looking to see the pump number and pressing the corresponding number on the app. That’s it. Nothing else.

        Infinitely easier, safer and more comfortable than paying with a card or cash.

      • 0 avatar
        Lockstops

        Also, I don’t have to pump gas (that sounds tiring) since we have electric pumps.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    Ever since I moved down to El Paso, TX, at the beginning of last year, I’ve been using Costco and Sam’s Club gasoline, almost exclusively, and I have been very happy with price and quality of the gas sold at both places.

    While the $55 or so annual membership MAY seem steep to some, I have saved more than that in groceries, hardware, supplies and incidentals each year.

    Using their gas was a natural extension of membership. Car buying may be another. I may try it some day.

  • avatar
    Boff

    Does this mean no need to enter a zip code when paying by credit card? It’s a PITA for Canadian visitors like me with no zip code (therefore have to go into the station and guess amount that can be added, then go back in if guess was wrong).

    • 0 avatar
      IHateCars

      Agreed…..we go to Cape Cod every Summer and I just use the Ogdensburg NY UPS store zip code (13669), which I’ve memorized from frequent trips to pick up packages from the US.

      But I’m always amazed when traveling to the US by how little prox chips are used for payment, instead of the mag stripe. And the clerk always looks at me like I have three heads, when I ask about it.

  • avatar
    mleitman

    Boff. There’s a trick for Canadian postal codes. Say you’re postal code is A1B 2C3, then you’d enter your ZIP code as 12300. Works for me every time I’m filling up in the US.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    How old is the picture?

    Is it from California?

    $4 per gallon is very high. BUT the premium for premium (though it is only 91 octane) is really low–ONLY $0.30! That’s 7.5%.

    Here in Michigan, if I recall correctly, my last fill-up, at a Mobil:

    87 was $2.499
    89 was $2.899 !
    93 was $3.199 !!!

    Premium is $0.80 more!!! That’s 32% over 87.

    Definitely a consideration in what type of car to buy here.

    Costco is a lot less, when convenient…their premium surcharge is around $0.45 to 0.50, or 20-25%. Still high, but palatable.

    Oh, and being a fossil, I like to use cash. I encourage everyone to use cash. We will miss it, if/when it’s gone. So use it!

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    I just want to see the number of steps in the workflow reduced. Currently, for CC users at almost every gas station I visit, it is a minimum of FIVE steps just to enable the pump:
    1. Insert and remove card. Hope that it gets the CC details on the first attempt.
    2. Answer the question (usually in this crappy grammar), “Is this debit card? Y/N”
    3. Enter Zip code and press Ok/Enter
    4. Answer some variant of the question “Would you like a carwash today?”
    5. Select fuel octane
    You are now finally able to pump gas into your vehicle, once you have removed the pump and inserted it into the filler opening.

    • 0 avatar
      sco

      I also get “would you like a receipt?”, although when there is no paper in the printer (about half the time) I get invited to go inside to get my receipt. When the pump also spits out gas at a rate of 3 gallons per minute I usually reach my limit.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    if they don’t hurry, this sounds like lawsuits if people are criminalised by their changes…or lack of.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    criminalized…

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    criminalized…
    why is this site’s spell check and edit not working?

  • avatar
    dougjp

    Heading to Florida shortly from Canada. In the past my US$ credit card with the postal code trick, as mleitman said, worked fine. Now my card has a chip. Maybe the gas station hasn’t converted yet.

    What happens now if I want to buy gas and pay inside? I won’t use the card insert in the pump regardless of chip ability or not, due to skimming reader fraud and/or the chance the thing will eat my card… I also won’t leave my card with some attendant while I go back and pump gas, for obvious reasons.

    What’s the procedure for getting gas now? Pay cash in advance and guess/hope the attendant is honest?

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    This is where the GM Marketplace shines.

    Full stop.

    When it works. Frustratingly it seems the Shell and Exxon/Mobil apps are plagued with connection issues.

    When I travel cross country the ability to pay a PIN number issued by my car and not provide any credit card to be skimmed adds a tiny bit of peace of mind. Having my debit card skimmed 3 times, and 2 credit cards hacked, I’ve grown to loathe swipping my card in general.

    As far as the all mighty GM tracking me, they already are, as is Google, Shell, Exxon/Mobil, and any other company that buys data from LiveRamp or Adobe (basically, everyone at this point) so what’s the feckin’ point of I don’t want to be tracked anymore.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Can’t wait until it’s all mobile payments and we don’t have to use cards at all. No possibility for skimming, no zip codes, no muss.

    A very few stations around me take Apple Pay, but not the one I use most often. It’s going to be demolished for a construction project soon anyway so I’ll have to change the routine. (Though with one EV and one hybrid they don’t see much of me anymore.)

  • avatar
    Whatnext

    LOL, do the American gas jockeys still run it through the good old Chargex imprinter? Backward.

  • avatar
    Jon

    One could use cash… Using the right obsolete tech makes one less susceptible to fraud.

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    Jon wrote: “One could use cash…”

    How does that work, if you want to put in something other than a specific amount (i.e. fill the tank)? A scam-riddled world has made everything pre-pay now, so you can only pay cash for gas if you are willing to accept less than a full tank (or are exceptionally good at calculating the amount, and cost of, what will fit).

  • avatar

    In my part of LA,the two gas stations closest to me are $3.999/$4.1999/$4.3999 per gallon. About a mile away it’s $3.699,$3.899/$4.099.

  • avatar
    ect

    Arthur, I remember seeing chip+PIN technology in use in Europe in the early ’90s. It took about 12 or so years to come to Canada, and has not been properly implemented in the US – chip without PIN is the norm, which is no real improvement at all.

    American financial institutions view credit card fraud as a nuisance issue – the cost and aggravation are borne by consumers, so banks and others don’t want to make big investments in reducing it.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    My electric bill is autopay.

    No cold, no chips, no cards, no apps, no PINs, no waiting. :)

  • avatar
    redgolf

    Boy, I can’t wait until all cars are BEV, charge it up at home and go! What! ya mean we’ll still have to pull into a charging station if traveling outside our miles limit? With even a longer wait time? I guess we’ll just have to eat our meals and take our dumps at the station while we’re waiting!

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Several smaller gas stations near me were closed up because the OWNER was skimming credit cards….

    I hope they come up with something new ere long, at $75 + per fillup I don’t like carrying that much lolly .

    -Nate

  • avatar

    I have been to one station in the North East with a pin reader every-other place including the big brands still using swipe. Despite being required for more then 2 years now some of the retailers of other goods near me just switched to chips in the last few weeks.

    I use as a app for about half my gas purchases mostly because the station gives a discount and free drinks for using the app to pay.

    Some one mentioned the old imprint card with carbon paper. I honestly had a local gas station near my house owned by a local oil delivery company that used one of those up to about 2009.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    More distracted driving. That’s all we need. We are doomed.:(

  • avatar
    redgolf

    SCE to AUX – NO kidding!

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I can’t recall the last time I paid at the pump. Between card skimmers and holds placed on your account when paying at the pump, it’s just easier to go inside. Helps that it’s one of the few times a week I buy a bottle of pop or a donut.

    I steadfastly refuse to upload my payment information onto my phone, though I’m sure it’s inevitable.

  • avatar
    sgeffe

    I use the app for the company rhyming with “well!”

    The Speedway pumps in my area use the chips, but don’t have any NFC stuff enabled for smartphones. I thought I’ve read that the NFC is the best bet for security.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    “One could use cash… ”

    A lot of people do, including me, when I’m traveling or on the road. I don’t want to use my credit card at some unknown place.

    But for local fill-ups at a known Costco or Sam’s Club, I use the credit card because there is no way to pay with cash there.

  • avatar
    James2

    It is me or does the Reply button not work?

  • avatar
    RayTo

    Reply doesn’t work on my iPad. This entire site is flaky. Always has been. I just accept it as the amusement value is higher than the dealing with Reply buttons, flaky login routines, Google recaptcha’s, being identified as a bot and trying to read a 2 column layout on a tablet. That’s just tonight’s experience.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    It’s rare I use my credit or debit cards to get fuel unless I’m traveling. I usually fill up at my local Shell station since I shop for groceries at Stop and shop and earn points that are eligible there. Depending on how many points I accumulate I can get up to .30 cents off per gallon. By paying cash I can get an extra.10 cents off bringing the price down to around $2.39-$2.49 per gallon.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    No Chip readers at Costco around here, and you don’t put in your zip either. Since they don’t take cash there is no other option.

    I’ve sen them at Safeway stations though.

    I do find it really hard to believe that there are not retrofit kits for the more recent pumps anyway.

  • avatar
    mcs

    @redgolf: “What! ya mean we’ll still have to pull into a charging station if traveling outside our miles limit? ”

    After driving 4 to 5 hours in order to exhaust the range of some modern EVs, I’m ready to take a break, have some food, and use the bathroom.

  • avatar
    mcs

    My fueling process is plug in at home, plug in at work-place. Repeat. Sometimes I’ll plug in at supermarkets and coffee shops. The stores usually require a phone app with NFC to unlock the charger, but that’s not a problem. I think I can activate it from my car too.

    In winter, it’s nice to have the option of not going outside. Home garage to work garage. Winter jacket in the trunk just in case. Today it’s 19 degrees F out with lots of wind. I’ll pass a rest area on the way to work and I’m sure there will be people freezing while holding those pumps and fueling their cars. If they were at a charging station, even though it takes longer, they’d at least be someplace warm and doing something productive like catching up with emails. And yes, you can run the heat while charging an EV.

  • avatar
    dantes_inferno

    Based on the picture, it’s pretty easy to guess which state it was taken in. The state where the west-coast exodus is gradually taking place.

  • avatar
    TR4

    8 months ago I filled up in Sherman, NY. They still had older pumps with no CC readers. Turn the knob to reset the counter, flip the lever to turn it on, pump gas, go inside to pay the cashier. No pre-payment required.

  • avatar
    Psychometrician

    There were a couple of new stations that just opened locally here in San Antonio last year (2019) and they both still have the old style swipe card readers. It seems to me that if someone is building a new station, that including pumps that take chip cards would be a prudent thing to do, rather than having to swap out almost new pumps or take any losses to fraud come October.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    You can probably get cancelled for thinking about why Sherman, NY’s gas station doesn’t need prepayment for fuel.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    I’ve yet to see a station in Canada that requires pre-payment during the day. And only a handful that require it at night.

    Amazing since there are no civilian’good guys with guns’ around to prevent crime. So perhaps that theory is flawed?

    • 0 avatar
      Jagboi

      Arthur: Prepay is law in BC and Alberta, all stations in BC and Alberta have prepay now.
      https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/prepaying-for-gas-now-mandatory-across-alberta-edmonton-1.4688577

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    Your thinking is flawed. Do a bit of research on Sherman, NY and the reason will slap you in the face.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      @Todd: No my thinking is not flawed. In this instance statistical evidence supports it. However your’s is sometimes skewed. But then Ayn Rand was illogical, and blinded by her personal issues.

      And if you research the demographics in Canada, it would most likely dispell your supposition.

  • avatar
    6250Claimer

    I live in rural southern Arizona, and we had a bunch of Giant locations around here – all pumping Shell (Top Tier) gas at bargain prices. Then Speedway bought them out, and now we have Speedway swill, no longer Top Tier, for the same prices. to get Top Tier gas I now have to drive into town 15 miles away and settle for either Union 76 or Valero, the only Top Tier brands in town (other than Chevron which is drastically overpriced in comparison). Really irritates me that Giant won’t go Top Tier. I inquired about it through their website and got some canned reply about “meeting government standards”. Yeah, of course you do. Wasn’t what I was asking.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I must be the outlier in my family because my sons all swear by Chevron gas, with Techron. Nice thing, they say, is you can buy Techron additive, and enrich the mixture with more Techron to keep fuel injectors, valve seats and upper cylinders clean.

      When traveling West I gas up at places like Eloy, AZ, Quartzsite, AZ, Yuma, AZ, and have found the gas to be decent everywhere. Then again, I usually buy the highest octane variety, not the 86 or 87 octane RegUnl.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    I absolutely hate chip readers at gas stations. Anything that keeps my wallet waiting outside of my pocket makes me vulnerable, and the last thing I want to do is stand trapped between my car and a gas pump, wallet in hand, waiting half a minute while it does whatever it is doing before I can finally put my card back in the wallet and my pocket. I want to continue to whip out my wallet, swipe my card, and get it back in my pocket in one motion.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    @Jagboi, Thanks for that. I can understand certain parts of BC. But Alberta?

    And yes, I am more than usually surly today. Our first cold day of the winter and getting into my ‘sedan’ wearing my bulky down jacket resulted in ‘tweaking’ my lower back.

    Another reason to look for an SUV/CUV/Van as our next vehicle.

  • avatar
    Jagboi

    Arthur: It became law in Alberta after a clerk was killed in a “gas and dash”, and if I remember shortly before another was seriously injured. There was a couple of incidents in a short period of time and that was the push behind it.

    BC had introduced pre-pay years earlier and the number of “gas and dash” went to basically zero, so it was a good model to follow.

    Don’t blame you for getting cranky, the forecast is it will be touching -30 over the weekend here.

  • avatar
    pwrwrench

    All this RFID is tailor made for hacking.
    Someone is sitting in a car at a gas station drinking coffee, looking at their lap top/infotainment screen. Meanwhile they are scanning/scamming all the transactions taking place.
    Later they can sell all the account info or use it themselves.
    Not enough range you say? Just put a relay unit on top of the pump behind that sign that wants you to buy new tires or a “free” trip to Florida. It could be smaller than a pack of ciggs and there need be nothing in it to I D the perp.
    This reminds me of the early days of the spread of ATMs. At a shopping mall customers found a “Out of Service” sign on the usual ATM. And a sign directing them to use the one across the way. It took a while till people complained that the substitute ATM had no cash, ever. Techs were sent to check the situation. There was one of the early portable ATMs about the size of the old arcade video games. It was plugged into AC and a phone line. This was before the cell phone network got fast enough for lots of data.
    Someone had ‘skimmed’ hundreds of account and PIN numbers. I’m sure the banks just spread the losses out over all customers they way they usually do.
    I usually pay cash for gas for obvious reasons.
    For those that think that you somehow need to calculate exactly how much to fill up; stations have given out change since the self-serve pumps went in 30 years ago. I have seen people come into a gas station, see the cash only sign, mutter something about “how do you know how much to fill-up?” and burn rubber out the driveway.
    Reminds me of the scene with Bush Sr when he was at a campaign stop in a supermarket. When he saw the laser scanner at the check stand he commented that it was a wonderful new invention. Laser barcode scanners had been in most stores for about 10 years at that time.
    I’m certain cash will be gone at some point, but right now the only places that I go where this is true is on an airplane trip or at the Costco gas station.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    OK so not being from a place where prepayment for gas happens, how does payment work (not including anything at the pump itself, as I wouldn’t use those card readers)?

    Lets say I don’t know how much $ in gas my rental will need, but want to fill up. I can pay cash or credit card. I stop at a pump, note the pump number and go inside. What happens then, before I can fill up?

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    How it works at the station I use, and a reason I hate it: is that you take a guess about how much it’ll take, pay the clerk inside, pump, hope you guessed right (not likely), drive off.

    Usually you:

    1. Pay too much
    2. Head back in for a refund
    3. Wait in line again to get your refund.

    If I’m ever at a prepay pump after the switch over, most stations around here require it after midnight, I’ll just buy a gas card with a decent total and pay at the pump.

  • avatar
    mcs

    “3. Wait in line again to get your refund.”

    Usually behind someone painstakingly selecting a dozen instant lottery tickets one-by-one, scratching them as they get them.

  • avatar
    redgolf

    Lockstops – you talked me into it as I have just downloaded the Shell app since that’s the gas I generally use, it’s close to me, looking forward to saving a few cents per gallon also!;-)

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