Credit Card Companies Limit Gas Station Purchases

Thanks to gas prices reaching $4 per gallon and credit card limits on the dollar amount that can be spent at gas stations, some consumers now need more than one credit card just to fill up their tank.

“When I go to the gas station, I now have to use two credit cards just for one tank of gasoline,” said Paul Brisgone of Oxford, Pa. “Kind of defeats the convenience of pay-at-the-pump.” Brisgone, a field operations manager for a telecommunications company, said that he alternates among three credit cards when filling up the 32-gallon tank in his Ford F-150 pickup.

If you see a Hummer owner futzing with several credit cards at the pump, it’s because they are hitting the $75 limit set by MasterCard, or the lower $50 limit used by Visa and Discover. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

Credit-card firms monitor gasoline-pump purchases [AZ Central]
(Photo: Yogi)

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  1. Fry says:

    Americans have limits on how much gas they can purchase? I work at a gas station in Ontario, Canada and the only limit I know of is $500 on commercial cards used by the local trucking companies. And all I have to do is swipe it a second time…

  2. ShadowFalls says:

    Wow, never even knew a limit existed. I never spent more than $30 at the pump ever… Then again, I don’t wait for it to hit the “E” either…

  3. bolhuijo says:

    RV drivers have been aware of this for a while. Even our not-so-fancy rig has an 85 gallon tank. If you roll into some station on fumes, you better have a stack of cash instead of trying to futz with 5 different credit cards.
    Even a midsize car that demands premium fuel can easily demand more than $50 these days. I wouldn’t be surprised if the credit cards companies make some changes soon.

  4. iamjames says:

    how come we didn’t hear about this in 2005 when gas hit $4+ a gallon? Back then I was paying $3.50/gal and now it’s only 2.75, so I know if Cali is paying $4 now they had be paying much more in 05. Why is this the first time we’re hearing about this?

    I’m in the US and i’ve never experienced this. Course my tank is only 15 gallons too, but I figured all the SUV drivers would have been bitchin a storm, especially summer of 05.

  5. EnderVR46 says:

    I’ve never had this happen. Though my car never requires that much, I’ve been there with a few people as they fill up their RV and it’s never come up.

  6. stilts says:

    im fairly sure this is a recent thing, as in began this year. i never saw the notices till recently anyway. but most of the stations we go to have little stickers on the pumps saying just this. listing the limits placed on purchases by each card company. Though i wonder what the logic behind it is, limiting theft? keeping some one with a stolen card from racking up major gad charges? if that was the case they would limit other purchases. it seems a rather arbitrary, limiting of the consumers spending/use of there card.

  7. hardisonthefloor says:

    I am a route driver for a living. I have a wright express card that i can use anywhere to fill up, but i have yet to find any gas station that will let me go over 100 dollars without having to run the card a second time. This is a total pain considering that i drive about 900 miles a week, and the route truck has a 34 gallon tank.

  8. The Walking Eye says:

    A recent gas fill up for me stopped me at $50. I asked the attendant and he said it was for my safety (whatever) and I could either end the sale and reswipe or cancel the pay at the pump and continue filling and pay inside. Made absolutely no sense to me why this was, and it’s only been one gas station that’s done it to me.

  9. Crazytree says:

    wonder if the issuer can waive this.

  10. Amy Alkon says:

    Buy a Honda Insight if you can find one, and if you don’t have to haul around steel beams (a good reason to have a large vehicle). I think the most I’ve ever spent (when my tank was at the emptiest and gas was hovering around $4/gallon) was $35. I spent a total of $157 on gas last year.

    PS It seems you should be able to call your credit card company and get the limit lifted.

  11. Piquant1 says:

    I used Discover to pay $57 for 17 gallon fill-up in CT.

    The only restriction that I have found is that you can only use your Discover card twice in one day. While I was on a road trip picking my son up from college, my husband filled his car at home. So my second fill-up was refused; not too nice when you are 100 miles from home late at night.

  12. code0 says:

    I worked for BP corporate once upon a time (about a year ago), and was around for one of the other price increases.

    BP stations (corp, dealer, and jobber) all have “floor limits” set by BP. This can vary by card type, but at least in BP’s case, it’s set by the local account execs for the area the site is in. I’ve seen limits anywhere from $25-$100 depending on where the site is.

    Sites in the shadier areas of town generally have the lower limits, and truck stop sites have the highest. The most important thing is that the site does not set these limits.

    Also, in BP’s case, if the site has a carwash and the prompts are set to display when you are finished, or at both the beginning and end, the price of the most expensive wash is taken out of this limit to make sure you can still purchase a carwash. If it’s set for the beginning only and you say no, you’ll get the full limit.

    The only way around these limits is to pay inside with your card. Although this is inconvenient, you can at least pay for the gas on the same card. This, of course, depends on if the gas will set the pump without a prepay.

  13. robotprom says:

    I’ve seen stickers for this at some pumps, but they’ve never stopped me at $50. Maybe it’s because I’m using a debit card and not a credit card.

  14. Coder4Life says:

    @Amy Alkon:
    You obviously don’t drive that much than…

    $157/$3 gallon = 52.3 gallons of gas

    52.3 gallons of gas * 60 miles per gallon = 3140 miles

    Typical drivers does I believe 10,000 – 15,000 miles per year..

  15. erciesielski says:

    Actually, it’s not really like they make it sound. You can only fill up to $75 per purchase. Here’s why:

    When you swipe your card at the pump, a $1 authorization is made on your card by the gas station. All they care about is that you’re using a valid card. Then a few days later, the transaction posts and the total amount of the purchase is deducted from your card. A lot of people don’t know this ans it causes a lot of headaches with overdraft fees and the like, but that’s another story. These limits are just a fraud prevention measure. I don’t see why you wouldn’t be able to use the same card two times in a row though. I work in a customer service call center for credit and debit cards, so I know.

  16. Mojosan says:

    >>>>
    If you see a Hummer owner futzing with several credit cards at the pump…
    >>>>

    Change “Hummer” to “Toyota Camry” and it applies as well.

    I hate it when Consumerist delves into adolescent smugness. It’s so unbecoming.

  17. homerjay says:

    This has happened to me several times but I always thought it was a gas station limit- not a credit card company limit. I never cared really cuz $50 still gets me really close to full.

  18. Squeezer99 says:

    Visa’s limit is $50 and MC is $75. actually the gas stations can go higher then that per transaction, but Visa’s and MC’s rules won’t protect gas stations from fradulent purchases of gas at the pump if they are over $50/$75, hence why you can only buy that much gas per swipe.

  19. justabunchofwords says:

    This is not a limit, per se, but it’s the authorization amount for that specific transaction. Just complete the sale, swipe again, and keep going. I know it’s not very convenient, but it’s geared towards the people using debit cards, do you really want $100 being held against your account for a $40 fill up?

  20. GitEmSteveDave says:

    I used to work at a gas station, and when we swiped the card at the terminal for whatever side we were on(pumps didn’t have anything on them to read credit cards), what it did was send a pre-auth request for $50(no matter how much you asked for) to the system, and when it got approved for that, it let you pump. I had my own CC card denied years ago because my account had only $35 in it. But when I pumped normally, and they ran it for the exact amount inside, it cleared. What I’m thinking is that it might be a whole lot of trouble to change the pre-auth amount, due to either software, or people just don’t want to change it. Remember how much trouble it was just to add “20” to the beginning of the year in all of the systems?

    BTW, does this apply to my GAS STATION credit cards? Like my WaWa MC?

  21. GitEmSteveDave says:

    @Amy Alkon: BTW Amy, did you know that Hybrid cars are a danger to the blind? I recieved a letter in the mail from The Seeing Eye who train the dogs, and they have had to alter their normal training and actually purchase a hybrid just to be able to start training the new classes to be aware of this new danger.

    You may have saved a tree, but you killed a blind guy and his dog. Shame.

  22. badgeman46 says:

    The real reason this system is in place is this: The first thing a credit card thief (with a real card) will do is to fill up at a gas station, this allows them to check the validity of the card quickly an relatively anonymously. When I worked for Mobil back in 99, all mobil issued cards had 60 dollar limits on them. This limit applies only at the pump. This is simply a security feature so that you have to pay at the register for large amounts of gas. Although they need to adjust that amount upward.

  23. rkon02 says:

    I have been stopped several times at the $50 mark with my Visa. I always assumed it was the gas stations policy because stolen credit cards are quick cash for thieves. The thieves will steal the cards and stand at the pumps of a large busy station. They will offer people to fill up their car for $20 bucks with the swipe of a card. My sister managed an Exxon station and this happened enough that the credit card companies would call the station.

  24. shades_of_blue says:

    @Amy Alkon:

    Wait, you own a hybrid and only drive around 3000 miles a year? What a waste, if you knew that you were only going to drive an average distance of less than 5000 miles and wanted fuel economy you should have considered a used diesel VW Jetta or similar. You may get more mileage from a tank of gas, but your monthly payment navigates any cost savings and your mileage usage does not capitalize on a new cars warranty.

  25. txinfo says:

    I did have this happen a couple of years ago in Texas. But it was back when gas was in the low $2 range. In addition to filling up my truck which took about $40, I was also filling up several gas cans. Once it hit $50 it shut off. But I just submitted the card again at the pump for a second time and it continued as normal.

  26. zolielo says:

    Yesterday the national average for regular gasoline was $3.01 per gallon. And in Los Angeles, CA it was $3.20 on average per gallon in the region. Where are you guys on the Consumerist getting the $4.00 price.

    On a side note I try never to run my gasoline tank dry as it is detrimental to the fuel pump in my car. Your mileage may various depending on fuel cell and pump design.

  27. zolielo says:

    P.S. I do when filling up my RV (camper) with dual tanks just ran the card through again. Maybe a Consumerist channeling Lifehacker tip of suggesting a re-swipe?

  28. wesrubix says:

    gas stations are the first place credit card thieves go to test the card. No signature required. Dip, pump, go. That’s why…

  29. Johann says:

    @shades_of_blue:

    I don’t own a hybrid, but I hate it when I hear people argue against hybrids because you don’t save enough money on gas to make up for their cost. Maybe you didn’t realize this, but many people don’t buy hybrids because they want to save money. They buy them because they want to save the Earth.

  30. zolielo says:

    @wesrubix: I have run into everal pumps in the far past that needed a zip code to fuel up. Though not everywhere which I am sure the thieves know.

    I have also heard that even with the limits gas stations are the money launders choice…

  31. smokyburnout says:

    @Johann: well, when it comes to “saving the earth”, the hybrid isnt the only option either… hybrids dont emit anything when running on electric-only power, but all hybrids currently in production can only do so for maybe a mile, and only at low speeds… course, some run atkinson cycle engines, but those really do more to improve fuel economy than emissions… and both engine shutoff and the atkinson cycle can be implemented on non-hybrid cars (bmw is developing a diesel 4-cylinder that uses engine shutoff and other technologies to get about 72 mpg)
    on the other hand, diesels usually save fuel, make more power, and burn emitting less co2 at more or less anywhere on the rev band…

  32. gamble says:

    @Mojosan: I took it as just picking a vehicle well known to have a large tank. Someone sounds a little too defensive.

    BTW, Hummers suck.

  33. gamble says:

    @GitEmSteveDave: Give me a break. You sound ridiculous.

  34. synergy says:

    That’s insane. I’ve never heard of this probably because the most I’ve paid to fill my tank from near-EMPTY! is about $32.

  35. yg17 says:

    @justabunchofwords: I use my debit card for gas all the time, and the authorization on my account is a dollar. It’s always been that way at a ton of different stations I’ve been to. Perhaps it’s US Bank doing me a favor, but I’ve never had more than a dollar authed when buying gas.

  36. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    It’s not for security. I don’t think credit card companies care about security. If they wanted to make my accounts more secure, they’d start posting every damn authorization and transaction. I have a suspicious charge on my chase credit card and they haven’t posted it, 3 days later. They say I can’t file chargeback until they post. Idiots.

  37. Trai_Dep says:

    I’m a cash guy but I’ve never dropped more than $30 on my tank.

    This stuff makes my day, though. I’ll keep eagle eyes out so if I can see the SUV credit card shuffle, I can laugh really REALLY loud. Like watching Blackjack!

  38. Havok154 says:

    Never had that problem…then again, I don’t drive a vehicle with a 60gallon tank just so I can go to the grocery store and my kids soccer games.

  39. bnissan97 says:

    The article mentioned a Hummer. I got an idea and it was stated by another post as well. Unless you NEED a bigger vehicle for work–let go of your vanity and get one that uses less gas. If you’re that vain, then get an expensive one that uses less gas.

    RV’s I can’t comment on that, people don’t use those for everyday driving, those are used for leisure. We do need our leisure even if it includes a RV or a vehicle capable of towing a RV.

  40. dculberson says:

    @shades_of_blue: Navigates? Really? It navigates the savings?

    Oh, and it could just be the cynic in me, but I couldn’t help but notice that $50 is the limit of what you can be held responsible for per transaction on a Master Card. That means that, to the best of my knowledge, if a thief swipes your card twice to get $50 worth of gas each time, then you’re on the hook for $100 rather than just the $50 if they swiped it once and got $100 total. Am I wrong?

    If I’m not wrong, them the MC folks are jerks.

  41. SexCpotatoes says:

    DCulberson, I was going to say something along those lines…. but you’ve got it a bit wrong. It’s not $50 PER TRANSACTION that you are liable for, it is $50 of ALL fraudulent charges, as long as you report it within a certain amount of time from it going missing.

    Still, you’d technically be paying for some shithead’s gas spree, AND all the fraudulent purchases over the years by increased fees and interest rates. Lucky you.

  42. cgarison says:

    FWIW… When gas get over $3.00/gallon, all vehicles have a huge tank. The 16 gallon fill-up on my Grand Marquis would break $50.00 last summer as gasoline broke $3.30/gallon for 87 Octane. In the suburbs, it was pushing 3.60 a gallon for 87 Octane.

    Pick on Hummers and trucks. Nah… It is picking on everyone.

  43. GitEmSteveDave says:

    @gamble: I’m dead serious. I have the letter right here in front of me. If that’s not enough:

    hybrid_cars_pose_obstacles_for_the_blind

    and

    quietcars

    You can’t make this stuff up.

  44. shades_of_blue says:

    @Johann If you want to help save the Earth, write GM a couple letters informing them that now is the time to reintroduce their ‘failed’ Saturn electric car program. Hybrids are only better for the environment if driven properly. Problem is most owners rarely drive a vehicle ‘properly’.

    @dculberson OMG a typo-freak, sorry but Word missed ‘negates’.

  45. Feng says:

    Cash, baby … always cash.

    Of course my wallet’s made by Samsonite and requires a porter.

  46. EtherealStrife says:

    @GitEmSteveDave: By your logic we should all go to old-style diesel, to be as loud as possible for the dogs and their owners. And don’t forget the bullet trains! The blind will be paste if they try and cross the tracks.
    Every time they step outside their houses they’re at risk. If they want to stay safe while crossing unregulated streets they need to keep themselves and their dogs trained to the newest technology, and prepared for it. Otherwise just stick to the regulated crossings.


    I’ve never seen this cc limit thing, so thanks for the heads up consumerist. When gas reaches $5/gal my old corolla just might hit it on the visa. :) Oh but I’m curious, where is this elusive $4 gas of which you speak (in EVERY gas blog)? The average is currently under $3 nationwide and $3.15 locally (according to GasPrices), so a $4 generalization seems horribly inaccurate.

  47. snowferret says:

    Creditcard companies want you to spend less? Since when??

  48. Brazell says:

    I’ve seen this for over a year at one local gasstation where after I pull my card, it says “$75 Limit” (MasterCard)… I always assumed it was the gas station preventing people from filling up their boats, or something, at the station.

    Driving a 17 / 18 Gallon Camry, I’ve never hit the limit… hit $58 I think, but gas is just like $2.85 or so in central MA.

    Anyway … anyody have a hypothesis *why* the CC companies limit it? usually they want you to spend more, not less?

  49. swalve says:

    I’ve never had my Visa card rejected @ $50 at a gas station.

    “Electric” cars are just coal-fired cars with a battery in between. I’d rather breathe gasoline fumes than more damned coal fumes.

  50. Butch Huskey says:

    i had a paypal card (not a credit card but a master card logo debit card linked to my paypal funds)

    old (original issue around 2002) card would need to have a balance of $1 to get authorized, i could then fill up and the gas station would tell paypal to change the $1.00 to $35.15 (or whatever) , since i never got an “overdraft” fee from paypal it was awesome … since the average time for the gas station to notify paypal was 2-3 days, i could (in theory) get a “loan” for 10 fillups from paypal for $10 (handy on a road-trip)

    then my card expired and paypal issued a new card … new card doesnt have the same magic power and won’t turn on the gas pump unless i have “around” $50 in there (i’ve never figuered out the magic minimum ammount) but i can go into the store and pay for an exact ammount

    also … i have had my pump turn off at $50

  51. GitEmSteveDave says:

    @EtherealStrife: I was just pointing out what I saw as a flaw in the “I have a hybrid and they are the greatest things on earth” sentiment.

    I for one think that a dog would have no problem hearing an electric motor. If my dog can hear my neighbor’s pick up from literally a half mile away approaching so he can bark, then I’m very sure a Seeing Eye dog can hear what is amount to a very large golf cart driving on pavement from less than 100 feet.

  52. drewheyman says:

    i’ve never had my card cut at $50 at a gas station, and my car holds 15 gallons, so i pass $50 every now and then. back when i had an explorer with a 20 gallon tank, i did it all the time. and then i’ve gone on a few trips this year across the US in a Toureag and and a Escalade, and they both averaged over $70 for a fuel up (400ish highway miles). so i think it is only a cutoff for poor people. :)

  53. GrandmaSophie says:

    I’ve read in the past that those limits were set not by the CC company, but by the gas station: The way a previous article explained it, the gas station will ping your card for whatever the limit is when you initially swipe it. Then when you fill up and it gets your real total, it will submit another transaction for the actual amount as well as a retraction for the initial transaction. There is an issue with this: with some gas stations, apparently the retraction does not post as quickly as the others. In some cases, that delay is like three days!

    This has been a serious issue with bank debit cards. You swipe your card and it runs a transaction for $50, then you fill up for $45, it runs another transaction for that $45 plus a retraction for the initial $50; but if the retraction doesn’t post for two or three days, your account is missing $95 instead of $45.

    Anyway, I use a Visa debit card to fill my gas tank; since I have a habit of running until my gas light comes on, at current gas prices I regularly top $50. At some gas stations, the pump clicks off at $50. At the one I go to most often, it does not – I’ve gotten over $60 in one fill. (Oy, and I only drive a minivan. I can’t imagine filling a 32 gallon F150!)

  54. ninjapoodles says:

    My debit card is a Master Card, and it cuts off at $50 at the gas pump. Couldn’t believe it the first time it happened.

  55. Johnhaven says:

    The AP story cited here is just plain wrong. I work for one of the largest fleet fueling companies in the US and I deal with these types of limits for some of the largest commercial fleets you can imagine.

    All credit cards have some type of imposed spending limitations to protect the consumer and financial institution against fraud. However, these really have no bearing with “pay at the pump transactions.” My cards have all sorts of limits, dollars per transaction, dollars per day, gallons per transaction, etc. But when you swipe your card to activate the pump, I have NO IDEA what you’re going to actually buy so I can only go based on what the pre-authorized amount is. This limit is set by the gas station itself (or it’s corporate office, etc.) The amounts for this pre-auth are most commonly, $1.00, $50.00, $75.00 and $300.00.

    A gas station that runs the pre-auth for $1.00 runs the chance of allowing someone to pump fuel that, once the sale is posted, the person can’t pay for. It’s too late at that point though because the person has left. A gas station that runs the pre-auth for $300.00 (this is most common for Flying J type truck stops.) runs the risk of declining the sale because of card limitations.

    The limitations have always been there. As the price of fuel rises, so do the average pre-auth amounts at gas stations. This is what is causing the decline, not how much you spent on fuel. Your credit card company has no idea how much fuel you actually purchased until long after you’ve already driven away.

  56. Typically around here (oddly enough the Oxford PA area), the pumps shut off at $75 on a cc transaction. As my name might suggest, I buy a lot of fuel. Generally I just let it run to shutoff and leave. 75 bucks gets me ~25 gallons, which is almost 3/4 of a tank. I don’t bother with a 2nd swipe most of the time, because it doesnt matter. Even in BFE there are gas stations every 5 miles, I can do almost twice that on a gallon of gas. If I want to run more than that on my card I just walk inside, give the friendly toothless redneck at the counter my card, and go out and run it as a cash transaction. Ain’t no hting.

  57. anatak says:

    Great insight, Johnhaven. Since when have people who actually know something been allowed to comment?

    And BTW, I fill up my F150 (not a 32 gal. tank) with MC debit card and not only have I never hit a limit, but I also have never had some outrageous ‘hold’ on my account for more than the purchase price. Now, can we tack on some more myths to this thread? No comments about how ‘savvy’ it is to finance your gas??? C’mon, we’re really slacking here.

  58. Grimmtooth says:

    Just to clarify a few things.

    1) These limits are not credit card limits /per se/ but are rather dispener limits that are set up on a site by site basis. The limits depend on the branding of the station and a few other factors, but in general that is the way it works. Bank cards (Visa, MC, etc) typically have a $50 to $75 dispenser limit by default, and most can be altered but it is a genuine pain in the neck for the most popular brand of dispenser controllers in use in the US (note: the controller and the station branding are seperate things, not all Shell stations run Verifone controllers, nor do all Chevrons run Nucleus or what have you). The controller and controller software vendors have been painfully aware of this for a couple of years now, but see (3) below.

    2) For most credit cards, all you have to do is run the card a second time, unless the payment network (an intermediary between the site and the card issuer) has imposed velocity checking. In that case, you can ‘reset’ the velocity checking (usually) by purchasing your gas inside. Face to Face is always considered the least risky to the processor.

    Some proprietary cards and specially branded cards will impose a daily limit, most notably petro company cards such as Sunoco Gas Card et al, or a special Shell branded MasterCard, or what have you.

    3) Ultimately, for mainline bank cards, the card issuer is responsible for any limitation, as that defines thier liability for unattended purchase – usually the highest risk factor outside of internet purchases. Again, doing it face-to-face will alleviate this since in that situation you have to sign the receipt and accept responsibility directly.

    4) When in doubt, prepay. The downside is that you have to go inside possibly twice if you don’t dispense the full amount, but at least you will be able to dispense your gas in one step. Prepay usually completely bypasses the per-card dispenser limit.

    5) Fleet Cards (Wright Express, Voyager, etc) generally have a higher dispenser limit but still usually have *a* limit. There are also MC and Visa fleet cards out there, and in those cases they usually work as “fleet” cards rather than bank cards. But not always.

  59. Buran says:

    @GitEmSteveDave: Oh for heavens sake. REGULAR cars can be so quiet that not everyone notices them. I’ve pulled into spaces before and had people not notice til they turned around. Seems to me like it’s yet more hybrid haters trying to come up with excuses to hate.

    If you’re worried about not noticing that there’s a car coming toward you, your dog isn’t well trained. It’s not like hybrids have cloaking devices!

  60. lucidpsyche says:

    @GitEmSteveDave: BTW, GitEmSteveDave, did you not happen to notice that she drives a Honda Insight?

    Hybrid Hondas are designed quite differently than hybrid Toyotas. I should know, I own a hybrid Civic and did a ton of research on hybrids before I bought mine. Basically, the Toyota hybrids use the electric engine when the car is stopped or driven at speeds under 20 mph. The Honda hybrids use the electric engine when the car is stopped or to assist acceleration. Unless the Insight’s engine has a drastically different design than both pre-2006 and the newer models (since the Civic was drastically redesigned in ’06) — which I highly doubt — the Insight uses gas. What makes its mileage so impressive is how the car itself is designed.

    In short: unless it’s stopped, a hybrid Honda’s gasoline engine will be on. These engines are quiet, but not as quiet as an engine running solely on electric power. Notice how the e-mail discussed the purchase of a Prius, which is a Toyota vehicle that runs solely on electric power at low speeds.

    Toyota makes hybrids, but not every hybrid is a Toyota. Nor does every hybrid work like a Toyota. So no, no shame on Amy Alkon for saving a tree but killing “a blind guy and his dog” — the dog (and probably this hypothetical “blind guy”) would have heard the gasoline engine in her car and therefore the pair would not have been killed. Shame on you for making assumptions without doing your research.

  61. bohemian says:

    I ran into this in Indianapolis. Luckily we had the VW passat that only takes $35 to fill with premium gas. I have run into too many security limits with my debit cards recently, and new ways they are finding to farm up new fees to the user. I have started carrying and keeping more cash on hand instead.

    I also noticed that even locally few places take checks anymore.

  62. loganvision says:

    This has been going on for some time. In May of 2006 I tried to fill up my BMW at a Valero station in San Jose. Key point: BMWs take premium and have a 20 gallon tank, and San Jose has some of the most expensive gas in America. I was amazed to find that Valero have a $50 limit. Over the course of the next week I found the same limit at two other Valeros and a $60 limit at a Shell station. Paranoid that I am, I figured that this was an under-the-radar way of imposing gas rationing without a big unpopular public pronouncement. As it stands, when the pumps shut off my reaction is “Jeez, gas is so expensive that the infrastructure can’t handle it. We gotta do something about this.” BMW doesn’t have a hybrid, do they?

  63. lymanjt says:

    This is not a bank or card decision — this is a gas station decision. Cards aren’t smart enough to know when someone is paying at a gas pump. The gas stations are setting limits on the amount that can be charged and blaming it on the issuers.

  64. MostNutsEver says:

    The first time I saw this was about a week or two ago, I had never had to spend more than $50 on a single fill up before, but it was close enough that I didn’t make a big deal about it. Interesting to know though.