Why ask if card is debit or credit?

A question from misc.business.moderated:

When I swipe my credit card at the gasoline pump, many require that I answer whether it is a credit or debit card before filling. This is dumb!

No it’s not. Depending on whether card is debit or credit, the pump may ask you for a different piece of authentication information (PIN for a debit card, billing ZIP code for a credit card).

If it makes a difference to the merchant, then the information should be written on the card and automatically obtained rather than requiring the customer to answer.

But there are also the processor and the card issuer, to whom it matters a great deal…

What happens if I answer incorrectly?

If the card is debit and you said it’s credit, nothing. The payment will still be processed; most debit cards can pretend to be credit. If the card is credit and you said it’s debit, your will need to use your PIN number (which you may or may not have set up); plus, your purchase may be recorded as a cash advance, and you will pay cash advance APR on it rather than APR for purchases.

This is admittedly a minor issue, but one that causes wasted time to a lot of people.

Welcome to the world of legacy systems! 🙂

Can anyone shed some light on why this happens

Basically, debit cards came onto the scene about 15 years later than credit cards, so anything related to debit cards was added to already operating processing systems as an afterthought.

or, better yet, figure out how to eliminate this time waster?

Why bother? I tell you that, and the next thing you will want to know is, how to eliminate the “paper or plastic” time waster in the supermarkets… 🙂

Life’s too short to worry about wasted time… 🙂

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