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john65pennington's avatar

Is it safe to use your debit card at gas pumps?

Asked by john65pennington (29070 points ) June 23rd, 2010

I have been using my debit card to purchase gasoline at the pumps for several years. i have always felt comfortable doing this and have had no problems. now, when i use my debit card at Shell gasoline stations, their computer asks for my PIN. is this a safe procedure, since my debit card numbers and my PIN are now required…......together?

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15 Answers

missingbite's avatar

@john65pennington I think that Shell is adding a bit of security. When I use my credit card at Shell I have to enter my zip code. If I type it wrong I have to go inside and talk to the clerk. You should be fine with your debit card.

netgrrl's avatar

Almost everywhere I use my debit card, I have to key in my PIN.

Otherwise I’d have to sign it as those it’s a credit card receipt.

MrItty's avatar

You need your PIN when using your debit card as a debit card. You do not need your PIN when using your debit card as a credit card. Sounds like Shell changed the way they process debit card transactions.

Or you started answering “yes” to the “Is this a debit card” question.

gorillapaws's avatar

Isn’t it more expensive to use your debit as a debit card, instead of using your debit as a credit card (in terms of extra charges they can weasel you with)? Also, I thought by using it as a credit card, you got greater protections under the law or something.

Facade's avatar

No more or less safe than using it anywhere else.

MrItty's avatar

@gorillapaws not in my experience. The only fees I’ve ever seen using a card is for cash advances or withdrawing from a non-bank ATM. Indeed, back in the day, I occasionally would use my debit card to buy a 25ยข piece of chocolate, and ask for $40 “cash back”, rather than going to the ATM to withdraw $40, as it was cheaper and resulted in my having chocolate

Nullo's avatar

I thought that you gave it the PIN as a matter of course.

Seaofclouds's avatar

I use my debit card all the time and haven’t had any problems. I also don’t have any extra fees or anything for using my debit card (whether I use it as a debit or credit). When I use it as a credit card, I usually have to put in my zip code and if I use it as a debit, I have to put in my pin. Majority of the time I run it as a credit card so that I don’t have to put in my pin.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

I use mine all the time, but I don’t enter my PIN at the pump. It treats the card as a credit card under those circumstances. If there’s a Debit/Credit choice, I choose “Credit.” It actually works more quickly.

UScitizen's avatar

Odds are, you’ll never have a problem. Unfortunately, any card reader that may not be attended at some point is the perfect place for a criminal to add a card skimmer. There are many news stories about this happening in a way that the casual user would never notice it.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27085818/ns/business-consumerman/
If this should happen to you, the criminals can clean out your bank account. A credit card is much safer to use. You have many more consumer protections than you do with a debit card.

robmandu's avatar

Read this which explains how the retailer (in this case, your Shell gasoline station) pays more for credit card transactions than for debit card transactions.

Of course, most bank-issued debit cards can be used either as credit or debit.

For this reason, many retailers are now auto-detecting if you’ve got a debit card and defaulting to that transaction. It saves them (and you!) money.

You can, usually, still force a credit transaction by punching the “Credit” button on the scanner device before swiping your card.

It’s only as “safe” as the information storage practices of the retailer. Some keep your card info on file for a time. Others immediately delete it once the transaction is complete. Of course, an unscrupulous person with access to that data could do bad things. That’s just the risk of using a credit/debit card… so what you’re seeing at Shell is not a cause for additional concern.

robmandu's avatar

More info on swipe fees.

Buttonstc's avatar

I always hit the “delete” button after the entire transaction is complete.

JLeslie's avatar

I think is is as safe as anywhere else, just like @Facade said (i have been agreeing with her a lot lately :)) Now, what to know about using your debit card is I think it temporarily holds a higher amount of money off of your account, so you might have less funds available then you think for a day or two. Since you swipe before you start pumping, I think it estimates what could be the highest charge, and that does not get removed as soon as the transaction is over from what I understand. Same with hotels. Credit cards help you avoid this problem, if it is a problem for you. It’s only really a problem for people who have very little cash in their accounts associated with their debit card.

Here is a link I just found http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Banking/BetterBanking/HosedAtTheGasPumpByYourDebitCard.aspx

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I have done so for over 25 years here in Canada without any problems.
As long as you protect your pin number, your experience should be similar.

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