Driving Trips in California, Nevada, Arizona

Spring 2009 CSANews Issue 70  |  Posted date : Apr 30, 2009.Back to list

Dear Bird Talk,

Just a word of caution to those of us who travel to Nevada, Arizona and California and use Shell, Chevron, Valero or Diamond Shamrock service stations. If you use a Visa or MasterCard, these cards are not accepted at their gas pumps without a U.S. zip code. These pumps are programmed to accept credit cards using a U.S. zip code only.

At several of these stations, I was offered the option of prepayment or leaving my card inside, which I refuse to do. How can you prepay, not knowing how much you need at a fill-up? I was also advised that maybe I should buy my gas at some other outlet, as they couldn't be bothered to accommodate a card without a U.S. zip code.

We have travelled these states for 20 years without any problems, but now it appears that some genius has figured out a way to make it difficult for every traveller. And don't look to Visa or MasterCard for a solution. Their customer relations department advised me just to prepay or pay cash.

Sincerely,
R.D. Burrows

Response:
Ed: This stuff drives me crazy, too, and I also refuse to leave my credit card in someone else’s hands. I have only one solution...get a Diner’s Club card. It is a very good credit card for frequent flyer points and has been voted the best “reward” card for several years. The Diner’s Club card is under the MasterCard umbrella, but does have an annual fee. This card works at every gas station that I have tried and it does not require a zip code. I will have to see if it will still work in July, when I return to the United States for a few days. Visa and MasterCard are both public companies now and their emphasis seems to have changed to happy shareholders instead of happy cardholders, so watch out for those extra charges and higher interest rates.