So I was pumping gas at my local Safeway gas station and I noticed the sign to the left. I’ve seen limits before, but they generally have 1 single cap for any type of credit cards. I found it extremely peculiar that ONLY Visa had a lower cap of $75 when all others had a higher cap at $100.
I’m not sure if this is true at other gas stations, if it’s just a Safeway thing, or maybe these limits are set by the credit card companies themselves. Maybe it’s just this particular Safeway. Typically Visa and MasterCard are neck to neck on these policies.
: Thanks to Ungsunghero for pointing me to this article: $75 limit on credit card charges at gas pump causes frustration:
Station owners say they simply are passing through policies of Visa and MasterCard, which won’t reimburse them more than $75 per transaction at the pump if there’s a disputed charge or a fraudulent card is used.
However, this article does state that both Visa and MasterCard has a $75 per transaction limit. Ungsunghero’s guess is that since Visa is the most common credit card out there, making it the most common one to commit fraud with, Safeway may be trying to lower their risk, which I can agree with.
: The thing as Ungsunghero later pointed out (which I also already knew) is that profit margins are very slim for gasoline. Before they would make 10 cents in profit per gallon and if you used your credit card, half of that probably goes to paying the transaction fees. And the thing with credit card fees is that there’s a base fee per transaction + a percentage of the total transaction. So as gas prices go up, so do the fees. If I recall correctly, the fees have now gone over the 10 cent profit margin.
“It’s the merchants’ decision to limit purchases,” says Visa spokesman Paul Wilke. He adds: “Customers always have the option of paying with the card at the cash register” where its policy differs from the pump.
Station owners say they don’t like the limits. If customers reswipe their card to fill up, it forces retailers to pay the card issuers more transaction fees. If they drive off without a full tank, the station lost revenue.
The reason why everyone swipes at the pump is because it’s more convenient. Who really wants to go into the convenience store, wait in line, pay a set limit, and then walk all the way back?
What I find completely ridiculous is that credit card companies are only covering a set limit per transaction, but they’re allowing customers to reswipe their cards multiple times?!?! I have to side with the gas stations on this one. Why not only allow the customer to swipe once and give a higher protection limit. I know the answer, you don’t have to tell me. Credit card companies are greedy bastards.