Have you ever used your credit card at a retail store and had the clerk ask for your ZIP code? This happens at the gas station, too. When you pay at the pump, most pumps won't approve the purchase and allow you to fill your tank unless you enter your five-digit ZIP code.
Ever wonder why the credit card machine asks for your ZIP code?
The credit card machines at gas stations and other automated points of purchase require the credit card ZIP code for security reasons. It’s known as an Address Verification System, or AVS. Once you make a purchase, your ZIP code and the transaction information are processed at the same time. If the ZIP code does not match with the credit card ZIP code in the processing system, the merchant can take appropriate steps to ensure the card is not being used fraudulently.
Address verification systems are used to protect consumers and merchants alike. When a business accepts credit cards, they must comply with data security standards set up by the Payment Card Industry. Address verification systems are just one of several advanced PCI-compliant security tools available to business owners to safeguard against credit card fraud.
In some cases, merchant will ask for your ZIP code before you have selected your method of payment. The merchant could be gathering marketing data for their sales team. This is not the same as AVS. When the credit card ZIP code is requested by the machine at the time you are making your payment, it is for fraud protection.
So next time you’re typing your ZIP code into the credit card machine, remember: It’s for your protection.