petrol stations & credit cards

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Jan 20th, 2004, 06:56 AM
  #1
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petrol stations & credit cards

In another thread somewhere, someone asked about paying for petrol in South Africa. I believe that a few years ago, they were all cash only. But on our last several visits, the most recent one in May 2004, we found lots of petrol stations that took credit cards.

None are self-service. And the thing that is different from the US is that you tip the man who pumps the gas.
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Jan 20th, 2004, 12:39 PM
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Celia,

Ouch! For this first time I can recall reading your mails on this board I have to disagree with you. (Not a bad record anyway)

It is TOTALLY ILLEGAL in South Africa to buy petrol or gas on a credit card. I dont know how you managed to do this but I somehow or other think that you are mixing your actions up with something else. NO GARAGE will accept a credit card as payment.

What could well have happened is that you went to an ATM at the garage, cashed money off your credit card and then paid in cash. The other possibility that you could be talking of is if you were travelling with a South African who owned what is known as a petrocard. This card is issued by SA banks liked to credfit cards but can only be used for petrol. What happens is that where you normally obtain 30 days of leeway to pay a creit card without incurring interest when it comes to a petrocard the banks pay the monies upfront in a totally differnt acount which can only acept petrocards as if it is a cash payment on your behalf. You are charged interest (and a stiff amount of this too) immediately. All in all this is a crazy system which was inherited from the late 80's but no matter what foreigners to SA shores WILL NOT be able to use a credit card and cannot obtain a petrocard so the deal has to be cash.

I am 100% sure of the above facts.

Hope this helps.

Very proudly part of the wonderful nation of South Africa
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Jan 20th, 2004, 10:07 PM
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Not that someone of Selwyn's stature in this forum needs corroboration, but let me do so anyway. He's correct. As I recall the reason why credit cards are not accepted dates back to when there was an oil (and therefore petrol) shortage and it was a means of discouraging purchases. Another aggravating factor (although I think not a reason), are the margins along the supply chain. If the banks were to get (say) 5%, that would be a major impact. When posting this, I did start to wonder if debit cards (other than the "petro" or "Garage" card, as my bank calls theirs) would be OK. For the above reason, that it's not buying on credit. But then how would a petrol station know the difference? Whereas the petro/garage cards are easily recognisable and there are not many kinds.
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Jan 21st, 2004, 12:14 AM
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Celia
It was myself who asked about paying for petrol in SA - I had read on Thorntree that credit cards weren't accepted and was interested in how people here had found that this worked out for them on recent trips.

We don't want to carry much cash.

If we use a credit card to get cash out in the petrol station (to use for payment) we will get stung by our credit companies who charge an extra fee for using the card to buy cash.

No win no win situation for us here...

: o (
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Jan 21st, 2004, 12:56 AM
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Here's a link to a news story that about covers it. Although it's over a year old, nothing has changed since then.

http://www.suntimes.co.za/2002/11/24...ews/news18.asp
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Jan 21st, 2004, 04:41 AM
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Selwyn & Arthur -

I was under the impression that petrol purchases were still "cash only" with a tip to the attendant, as Selwyn clearly states.

Arthur - the article was very interesting and understandable; however, the idea of a "debit card" for use to purchase petrol would be a good idea as a "cash card", where the owner of the card pays upfront for a card with a set amount of money on it, say $50 (or equivalent thereabouts in ZAR) to be used for petrol purchases, and maybe even other small items - newspaper, soda/pop, loaf of bread.

In this way the card is fully funded, there is no interest charged, it can be replenished as needed. Of course, the card actually becomes "cash" if stolen, but individuals (tourists especially) don't have to carry more actual cash than necessary.

They do use such "cash cards" here in the States, but it hasn't been accepted throughout. It was tried in NYC, but apparently New Yorkers prefer to pay petrol by credit card or cash, and small purchases also by cash. So the cash card hasn't taken off here, though it has been successful in other locations around the country.

It comes down to every country doing what they feel works best for them until a time that things change.
 
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Jan 21st, 2004, 04:58 AM
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A final thought, having now read that article to the end myself.

It refers to the idea of debits against a chequeing account as if it was a proposal, and that linking with a credit card (but with interest on the transaction until it is paid) was the only mechanism. But my own card does just that, it's linked to my bank acount, not my credit card. So if I'm not in overdraft, it works exactly as sandi suggests, it's drawing against a amount that's already there. And it's been working like that for many years, certainly long before that article was published.

But the problem remains. Until the Law is changed, it's only the cards that are recognised as S.A. petro/garage cards that will be accepted.
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Jan 21st, 2004, 06:43 AM
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Gosh, I'm sorry to have given wrong information! I wonder if I was thinking of Namibia. Anyone know the situation there?
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Jan 21st, 2004, 06:54 AM
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Celia
Actually the discussion you've kick started has been very useful for me...

I don't recall for Namibia as I didn't drive but Peep will know!
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Jan 21st, 2004, 04:45 PM
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Kavey, I wish you better luck with Peep's memory than I had with Jim's! He's the one who assured me we used credit cards. Maybe we both got sunstruck on our last visit? *smile*
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Jan 21st, 2004, 10:12 PM
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Maybe not Celia. And I THINK I recall someone in another forum claiming to have used a credit card. It's possible I suppose, but as a very isolated exception, and therefore not one on which to rely.

If a garage owner was desperate enough for the money (they'd still be making about half the normal profit, despite the credit card charge to them from the bank), or wanted to help a visitor in need whatever the risk, presumably they could put the transaction through as if it was for some other commodity or service.

But illegal nevertheless.
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Jan 22nd, 2004, 04:00 AM
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We only paid cash for gas in Namibia. Didn't even try with credit cards because I was told we couldn't, so I really don't know if you can or not.
 
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Jan 22nd, 2004, 01:11 PM
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Ah well - I guess we'll try and ensure we have cash.

But when we're touring game reserves in KZN does anyone know how easy or hard it's going to be to find places to cash in Travellers' Cheques?

Thanks
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Jan 22nd, 2004, 01:53 PM
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>>>>>>But when we're touring game reserves in KZN does anyone know how easy or hard it's going to be to find places to cash in Travellers' Cheques?<<<<<<

Kavey, you raise another question. I haven't been to South Africa (or anywhere in Africa) just recently, but for the rest of my overseas travel I've been using my debit card to get cash from ATMs.

My husband was in Umhlanga Rocks (on the northern outskirts of Durban) for 4 weeks in July 2003, to visit his seriously ill father. He took no travellers' cheques, and used his debit card to draw cash from ATMs. Now admittedly he was in an urban area where there were enough ATMs and, in a worst case scenario, he could have gotten money from his family members. But, just out of curiosity, are you saying that people who go on safaris in Africa (and therefore stay in remote areas) carry funds in the form of TCs?
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Jan 22nd, 2004, 02:02 PM
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Kavey -

So few people take Travellers Checks these day, except in case of an emergency. Hopefully no such emergency presents itself, and so the checks can be redeposited once you return home.

More so these days, its difficult to cash TCs and you don't get a favorable rate of exchange; as well many places apply a fee for exchanging/converting them, even at banks. This subject appears on every board here and on others and the conclusion is that it is best to just use a bank ATM card to withdraw local currency.

You should, of course, check whether your home bank charges a fee for withdrawals outside your home country, but I haven't yet found a bank in a foreign country that charges a fee, as most are not permitted to by their local banking laws.

Regardless where we've been in the world, the ATM provides the best rate of exchange for local currency used for everything other than say expensive purchased or for meals.

While I do take some TCs, I can't recall the last time I ever exchanged one. Otherwise, I have a relationship with the closest ATM machine and there are plenty around South Africa.
 
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Jan 23rd, 2004, 12:46 AM
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I don't know really. I used to take TCs on my trips years and years ago but must admit to not having taken them along for a very very long time.

I usually get cash from ATMs using my debit card and use credit card to pay for most everything. The cash has just been for coffee, snacks and small purchases. My debit card bank does not charge for cash withdrawals overseas and usually gives a great exchange rate. But I don't usually need that much cash so I only need to find an ATM now and then...

It seems that I will have to revise my norms in SA and am just wondering how best to handle the cash/ card thing.

Will I be able to pay by credit card in most restaurants? We're not intending to opt for the high end ones much at all. Will supermarkets/ grocery stores all accept credit card?

Will I be able to find ATMs en route between game parks in KZN and Kruger?

Any advice would be very helpful. THANKS!
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Jan 23rd, 2004, 01:48 AM
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You won't have any problems using credit cards at stores or supermarkets - except if you are really in the bundu. Likewise with restaurants. Most will take cards without a problem - unless it's a small street vendor type operation. At roadside craft stores and markets(where you will get the best goods) you will need cash.
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Jan 23rd, 2004, 03:02 AM
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What counts as really in the bundu?



We'll be spending some weeks just cruising the game parks, Hluwhluwe_Umfolozi, St Lucia, Ndumu, Ithala and Kruger. Do rest camps have ATMs/ take credit card payments in their grocery stores/ restaurants?

Will we easily find ATMs en route between the parks?

Sorry to ask for more detail but I'm loathe to get stuck being unable to get cash and therefore petrol.

Mind you did someone say most petrol garages have an ATM?

Lastly, are there petrol garages in most game park rest camps or not generally?
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Jan 25th, 2004, 09:55 PM
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I'd qualify anything less than a regional/provincial road as the bundu.

I meant to add that indeed, most petrol stations have ATM's. On the main routes there are many, many large, plaza type stations with restaurants, ATMs, shopping etc. According to a colleague who heads off into the bush on a regular basis, there are petrol stations conveniently located at or near the camps.
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Jan 25th, 2004, 11:32 PM
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Thanks Traci!
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