Gas Station Mystery Shops

Quick question. How does everyone pay for the gas when you do multiple stations? I currently use a Bluebird Debit Card I got years ago from Walmart. But when I did a Shell and a Sinclair last week but jobs took all the money on the card as a hold. I had to add more to it. The money was refunded to me but took about 10 days. I have several jobs coming up and I want to see what everyone else uses. I don't like using my credit cards because I have had them skimmed in the past and that was a huge hassle. Do gift cards work at the pumps? Do you get company gift cards and only use them at those stations? Any information would be greatly appreciated.

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With one particular brand, the one that is named after a mollusk exoskeleton, I usually buy a gift card to use at the pump.
Thanks, we should be able to say the name of the station since we are not mentioned the MSC that the job is through. So when you use the gift card does it "hold" an amount or just what you actually purchased?
I have never had problems like that using my bank debit cards or gift cards. Company gift cards are my preference to protect from skimmers, plus you just insert them and don't have to use the keypad. Other times I try to stick to debit, because many brands allow only two credit transactions per day per card. But some stations won't take debit - only credit (including debit cards with a Visa/MC logo run as credit,) so it's good to have extra cards on hand.
You are right, there is no MSC here. Although it seems that 90% of the gas brands are with the same MSC these days. I was referring to Shell. When you use the gift card, there is no hold, so it works great. I like using it because sometimes I do several locations right in a row and my credit cards are not always accepted by the brand more than a few times a day. As stated above, it also protects from fraud. The other brand I do huge routes on is Valero, but so far, I have not had any problems with them using the same cards over and over again. I have finally gotten my credit card companies used to my patterns so they don't put out fraud alerts anymore as they used to on gas station routes.
Thank you. Shell was one of the ones who took all the money on the debit card ($38) it was a random amount just what was on there. Then Sinclair did it when I refilled it again. Valero has never done that. I am going to try to get a Sinclair gift card but we don't have many in New Mexico. I used to go through all my credit cards and then decided I was paying interest on a few dollars and didn't like that, then my credit card got skimmed at a Sinclair in Wyoming and they racked up $1000 before it got turned off. Luckily the company was very nice and fixed it immediately.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/07/2021 09:49PM by cindycribbs.
I use several dedicated mystery shop credit cards. By using a credit card, I can get up to an additional 3% back on every purchase. it is a nice perk. When the bill comes in, I know that everything on that card is from mystery shopping. I also pay the bill from a dedicated mystery shop checking account,
I used to use gift cards but now I use a debit from a bank account that I use strictly for business.
Some brands specify not to use a gift card, so be careful to check instructions. Shell and BP have a system-wide restriction that you can only use the same credit card twice per day at any of their stations.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/08/2021 02:45PM by mjt9598.
I talked to my bank about this and explained about how I would use it for multiple purchases on the same day. It was noted on my account and, since that time, I've never experienced a problem.
alternatively, I have several credit cards (I never use unless in an emergency) that I bring along in the instance of a misunderstanding.
Originally I used a credit card and notified the company, only to have the notes not work to prevent a hold. I have found that I can only do 2 visits per day from a specific brand before my card is held. I have found that purchasing a gift card works best. I have never had an issue with using a gift card (I do about 100 stations for multiple brands per month so I do a lot). I also found that purchasing the gift card helps me make sure that my expenses are paid out as it was too easy to delay paying it on my credit cards and end up with a balance if I wasn't careful.
From the dino brand instructions:
Do not use a gift card for the gasoline transaction.
When the pump does not have a chip reader, I use a Vanilla Gift card, and make a $1 purchase. I keep about three Vanilla cards running to be able to use, and I could use one four times in a day if needed. (2x as debit and 2x as credit). The downside to that is the $3.95 service fee per card but I consider that a cost of doing business. By only getting $1 of gas each time on them, I can make a $25 card last for 24 shops.

When the pump has a chip reader, I use my regular credit cards, and get more in fuel.

It baffles me that in 2021, there are so many stations without chip readers still. I saw Valero mentioned above... I love their shops but they are the absolute worst when it comes to not having chip readers in my area.
I have a purse full of debit and credit cards. I pay off the credit card balances every month and rotate accordingly.
I try and use a card specifically for MS. I get 3% cash back on gas purchases. I explained to the bank what I did and the never put a hold on me. I do carry extra cards just in case. I wont use gift cards because I'm not getting cash back or points. Some pumps you can Apple pay as long as the guidelines permit it. In that case I just use my phone at the pump since I have that card listed in my Apple wallet. Try Level Bank. They are online and have tons of perks. Best one is when you pay at the pump they put a hold, but once you finish pumping gas it releases the hold. I do sometimes have issues with my business BOA card but it is quickly resolved once I answer the text of call in.
Can I ask about how much you earn in a month from these?

@KarenMSW wrote:

Originally I used a credit card and notified the company, only to have the notes not work to prevent a hold. I have found that I can only do 2 visits per day from a specific brand before my card is held. I have found that purchasing a gift card works best. I have never had an issue with using a gift card (I do about 100 stations for multiple brands per month so I do a lot). I also found that purchasing the gift card helps me make sure that my expenses are paid out as it was too easy to delay paying it on my credit cards and end up with a balance if I wasn't careful.
For me it can vary and depends. If i stuck with my local ones only it would be next to nothing. But i will travel. Next weekend i am traveling to Colorado and will make $500
I do a lot of gas station shops (in Canada) and all of the shop requirements state that I am not to use gift cards. So be sure to know the shop rules before using a gift card.
I buy gift cards from what ever station I am doing, that way I have a preset amount, I can reload it and I don't have any holds to deal with. Make sure you check your guidelines to verify it's okay to use it at that station but I have used it on green ones, blue ones, yellow ones, as well as others.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 07/10/2021 04:04PM by piebaby.
I just finished a massive round of red/white/blue limited reveals. I have their branded credit card, which is offered through a company with whom I have lots of accounts.

Ran into issues using the card too much, and, despite numerous calls to customer service trying to explain what was going on, I didn't get to the bottom of it until my 10th call over the most recent overnight loop.

A truly horrid customer service experience overall. A solution was readily at hand, yet it took having to ask for a supervisor on the last call to finally get to the bottom of it.

Debit cards at gas stations and hotels should be avoided at all costs.

If you don't have credit cards, start building credit with a secured VISA. It works like a debit card in that there has to be money in the account, but it is a credit card, so your use builds your score.
I used to have the rewards card (not for paying, just the rewards card) for Exxon. It got flagged for fraud and they closed the acct. I was wondering why they kept telling me to contact customer service when I tried to use it. I was annoyed because I had accumulated around $9.00 on it that they just took. I can not open a new one with my email, so they say. Phooey to them. I can't be bothered any more. Seems some station that I did on a route reported it. I tried to explain, but NG. That was a lot of stations to get to that $9.00 too!

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The more I learn about people...the more I like my dog..

Mark Twain
That Exxon reward card is bogus. Customer service told me to read the rules after they canceled my third or fourth card. I did and they clearly state that the company can cancel an account any time, for any reason, or no reason at all. And so they do.

sestrahelena
@jamgablee wrote:

Can I ask about how much you earn in a month from these?

@KarenMSW wrote:

Originally I used a credit card and notified the company, only to have the notes not work to prevent a hold. I have found that I can only do 2 visits per day from a specific brand before my card is held. I have found that purchasing a gift card works best. I have never had an issue with using a gift card (I do about 100 stations for multiple brands per month so I do a lot). I also found that purchasing the gift card helps me make sure that my expenses are paid out as it was too easy to delay paying it on my credit cards and end up with a balance if I wasn't careful.

I make about $2,000 per month working part-time (10-14 days per month). I, fortunately, am able to combine brands so that all of my locations are very close together (many times literally across the street from each other) which cuts down on my mileage significantly.
We have a shell gift card that I put all my reimbursement money back on every month. We also have a BP gift card, because I don't like using my debit card as a credit card in gas pumps. But for all the others I just use my debit card, they only take what I pump.

I don't know if it's because it's a bank debit card and not one of those money cards or if it's because I have the "overdraft pay anyway" thing shut off. It's been ages since a gas station put more than what I actually paid for the gasoline on hold on my card. Maybe it's a bank thing? Maybe you can call the bank and have that changed?
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