Getting Gassed in the U.S.

This credit card is not quite good as gold if you're a Canadian buying gas in the U.S.

This credit card is not quite good as gold if you’re a Canadian buying gas in the U.S.

Here’s a great trick I learn on the last day of a month-long road trip in the western U.S. Typically when buying gas in the States with a credit card, these days, I’m asked to enter a zip code. Since we Canadians don’t have those, I’m forced to walk inside and provide my credit card to the attendant, who checks the card and maybe my driver’s licence and asks me how much gas I want to buy before opening the pump. This sometimes involves going outside and hitting “Cancel” once or twice. Pain in the ass. Especially when I’m forced to guess how much gas I’ll need and, if I overestimate, have the extra amount credited back to my card, or at least so I’m told.

But when I’m buying gas at a Safeway in Spokane, Washington, a worker filling the windshield washing containers hears me whining and provides the tip that saves me the trip inside. Simply enter just the numbers from my Canadian postal code, followed by two 0s. Thus if my postal code is T5J 4E2, I enter 54200. Presto, I’m in business.

I’m not sure if this works in all states and at all gas stations, but I’ll certainly give it a try next time I’m stateside. Meanwhile, if any of you have tried this elsewhere, let me know.

Speaking of American gas stations, you’re not allowed to pump your own gas in Oregon. New Jersey, too, I believe. Something to do with safety regulations in those states. I do notice, however, that this gas-jockey service doesn’t extend to washing windshields.

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3 thoughts on “Getting Gassed in the U.S.

  1. Mike Haden

    Bill, I think this is a relatively recent development – I believe that I read about it in the G & M within the past few months. If I recall correctly, it only applies to certain gas station chains, not all of them. I’ll see if I can find the article.

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