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November 29, 2021

Snowbirds face irritating gas station hassle

As the snow starts to fly, thousands of Florida-bound snowbirds are gearing up for the long drive.

AdThe good news: Gas prices are still about 20% less than we’re paying here. Unfortunately, you’re probably going to need stacks of cash to buy it.

Billed as an effort to combat “drive off” gasoline theft, more and more ‘Zip Code-required’ gas pumps are popping up along the highway, warns Dave Hunter, author of Along Interstate-75, a popular snowbird guide.

The ZIP-code pump creates hassles for Canadians as it requires drivers to prepay (no on-the-spot refunds if you guess wrong) or leave a credit card with the attendant before filling up.  

While Canadian debit cards are one alternative, you’ll pay a few bucks for each fill up. As a result, you may want to consider getting a U.S. debit card and maintaining a minimum balance if you plan on staying awhile.

Click here to download a one page summary about fighting back or here and here for suggestions and tested ways to "work-around" this problem, particularly if "90210" is the only Zip Code you know.

To help plan your route, here's a list of gas stations (by state and route) and whether or not they accept Canadian cards at their pumps.

Is it that big a hassle? Have you had to dance around the issue when buying gas?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...