Purchase boundaries being hit at the pump due to
     the higher cost of gas
     As if soaring gas prices weren't enough, motorists are finding that many stations have a purchase limit on credit-card transactions at the pump, something most customers were not aware of before the spike in prices.
     The reason for the limit, station managers say, is to protect against credit-card fraud.
     "It's $100 for American Express and $75 for Visa, MasterCard and other cards," explained Gregory Berera, an attendent at the BP station in Concord.
     Motorists who hit the credit-card limit can do a second transaction at the pump in order to complete a fill-up over $75, he said.
     According to a Stapleton Citgo station cashier, who wouldn't give his name, the transaction limits were always in place "but because prices were low, people weren't aware of it. Now that the cost of gas is higher, people are finding out there's a limit on the transactions."
     "Of course, it depends on their credit," he said. "If there's not enough money on the card, then it won't go that high. But earlier today, a card went through at $120."
     The purchase limit at some stations is lower. When the Sunoco station in Rossville opened three years ago, it always had a $50 limit on credit cards at the pump, according to a station attendent there. Once the total reaches $50, the pump cuts off and the motorist isn't allowed a second transaction on that card.
     However, motorists can request more than $50 if they swipe their card inside at the register, where the purchase limit doesn't apply - an alternative also available at other stations. The clerk will ask the customer how much gas he or she will purchase, and request an authorization for the full amount, prior to the gas being dispensed.
     "We don't mandate that pumps are shut off," said Tristan Jordan, a MasterCard spokesman.
     For some motorists, the transaction limitation is not a big deal. "It's good because it protects you if your card is stolen, but sometimes it can be a pain in the butt when you're in a rush," said Ronald Rotondo of Dongan Hills.
     Stephannia F. Cleaton is the Advance business editor. She may be reached via e-mail at cleaton@siadvance.com.

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