Higher gas prices mean bumping against pump limits

American consumers are feeling the pinch of higher gas prices. At the same time, drivers are increasingly finding that they may need to make payments at the pump with more than just one credit card.

Compare Reward Credit CardsThe reason that consumers may need to switch from one gas credit card to another midstream stems from rules aimed at preventing fraud at gas stations.

Credit card issuers have existing rules in place that limit how much gas can be charged to a single credit card when filling up using pay at the pump. Issuers explain that these caps are meant to protect merchants and consumers in case of fraudulent gas purchases.

Neither the cardholder nor the gas station are held responsible for fraudulent charges, and card issuers view limits to how much can be charged at the pump as an added layer of protection.

This is because when cardholders use their plastic at an automated location, like a gas pump, the transaction gets authorized before the total amount of the sale is known. Gas stations may request a pre-set authorization amount, which will then be sent before the customer fills up their tank.

Should a credit card thief try and make a gas purchase on someone else's card, they would be limited by such a cap.

With a MasterCard, the limit on pay-at-the-pump gas purchases is $75, while for Visa and Discover credit cards the limit is $50. Corporate credit card and American Express holders may find that these transactions limits vary.

But these limits may not always come into play. Some gas stations do not have to follow the limits, while there is no cap for consumers who pay inside at the register.

When gas prices were low, consumers were rarely aware of these limits. It is only as the cost of filling up has skyrocketed that it takes more than one credit card to pay at the pump.

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Updated: 01-23-2019