If you’ve got a car, you probably frequent a gas station every week or two. You’re probably in the habit of pulling out your card and swiping it through the outdoor reader. While this is a convenient way to fill up and go, it could be putting your identity at risk. Having your credit card information stolen via electronic skimmers is becoming more and more common. In fact, there was so much identity theft due to gas station skimming in 2016 that Gary Taylor, executive director at Conexxus, estimated that the fuel industry would have to spend $3.9 billion to retool and equip each pump to protect customers. While fueling stations are required to update their systems by October of 2017 to protect against card theft, thieves are consistently coming up with new ways to obtain your information. Currently, Bluetooth retrieval is being used to pirate card info from gas pumps. Instead of using your regular credit or debit card to pay for your gas, it’s time to make the switch to a pre-paid gas card.
Prepaid fuel cards are reloadable. Simply decide how much you want to keep on your card and use it to fuel your card. Because it’s not tied to your bank information, there’s no risk to you. It’s a quick and easy way to protect yourself from theft. While using a prepaid gas card is a no-brainer, choosing the right card is another story.
- Don’t pick the first card that crosses your path. Plenty of gas stations and convenience stores offer prepaid gas cards. While it may seem easy and convenient to pick one up, it’s important to put some thought into which gas card you want to use.
- Make a list of the last five stations that you used to fill up your tank. Why did you choose these stations? Was it because they were close to home or work? Maybe they had the best gas prices? No matter the reason, you want to choose a card that can be used at your most frequented stations. Many companies offer prepaid gas cards that can only be used at specific gas stops, limiting your options.
- Some prepaid gas cards may offer rewards or incentives. This is a great way to save some money while protecting yourself. If you spend hundreds of dollars on fuel each month and you choose a prepaid gas card that gives you a percent back or that gives you a discount on each gallon of gas, you could be saving quite a bit over the course of a year. Compare different rewards before deciding on which prepaid card is best for you.
- Each prospective prepaid card is going to have a list of terms and conditions that needs to be read. Before you can even begin using your card, you may be required to pay a “purchase fee” or an “enrollment fee.” Typically, this is only a one-time charge. Depending on the card, though, you may also be charged a monthly fee. Some cards also tack on a fee each time you reload the card. By reading the fine print, you can eliminate those cards that might charge you more for fees.
- If you don’t drive a lot, a gas card is still a good idea. It protects you at the pump and can put more cash in your pocket. But it’s important that you choose a card that doesn’t require you to spend or keep a certain amount of cash loaded each month. This will just be a hassle for you, especially if you don’t spend a lot of time behind the wheel.
- Your prepaid card should make your life easier, not harder. Before selecting a card, figure out how you add funds and use it at the pump. Reloading your card should be simple and only take a minute or two. Using it at the pump should be no different than using your typical debit or credit card. Anything more difficult will just complicate your life and make the benefits of using a prepaid card obsolete.
Don’t let credit card thieves rob you of your money and personal information. Protect yourself and your bank account by selecting a gasoline card that’s prepaid. With the right card, you won’t worry about compromising your confidential information each time you fill up.