Sunday, May 24, 2015

How to fill up in Cali without a Zip Code

In the US, they don't (yet) have chip and PIN on their credit cards, or if they do, stores aren't set up for it yet. As a result, credit card fraud is rampant. As a result of that, when you use your credit card to fill up at the pump, they want your Zip Code (in some states). Apparently, the system queries your billing info, and if the Zip Code you enter matches the code found on your billing address on file, you're good to go.

But what if you don't have a Zip Code because you don't live in the US? I always found myself staring at the "Enter Zip Code" screen on the pump and realizing that once again, I'd have to hand over my credit card and my first born to the attendant and try to guess how much worth of gas I need this time.

It turns out that there's a trick Canadians can use to enter a "valid" Zip Code. When the system queries a Canadian billing address, it's only looking for numbers. But because our postal code is a combination of letters and numbers, we think ours won't work. But it does. You just have to strip out the letters and pad the remaining digits with zeroes. So if your billing address postal code is T2T5K6, then the zip code you enter is 25600. It works. At least it does at Shell. In California.

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