Many motorists around the country are pulling up to fuel pumps and seeing a sign that says “No more credit cards.” In fact, their ability to pay at the pump may be in jeopardy because station operators say higher gas prices mean higher credit card fees for them.
Station managers are angry about “interchange fees,” the percentage of the sale price that retailers pay to credit card companies on every transaction. The percentage is fixed, but the dollar amount of the fee rises with the price of the goods or services.
The high price of fuel has pushed fees toward 10 cents per gallon. Now, stations, which typically mark up gasoline by 11 to 12 cents a gallon, are seeing profits shrink or even evaporate.
The Associated Press interviewed Jeff Lennard, spokesman for the National Association of Convenience Stores, about the interchange fees. Lenard’s group reports convenience stores paid roughly $7.6 billion in credit card fees last year, while making $3.4 billion in profits.
“At these prices, people aren’t making any money,” said Lenard. “It’s brutal.”
Statistics from the NACS show that about two-thirds of transactions at gas stations were with credit or debit cards in 2007, a figure expected to rise this year.
Gas stations in South Carolina, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey and Arizona are among those offering cash customers a discount, with savings from four cents to 10 cents per gallon, reported The AP.
Truckers are already familiar with these fuel-related restrictions. For instance, Flying J stopped accepting Visa credit and debit cards for diesel purchases at truck pumps more than a year ago, in May 2007. And Land Line reported in August 2007 that Pilot was no longer accepting Visa and Mastercard at the pump.