Credit Card Integration Hits the Road

Visa aims to apply easy pay systems to cars for greater convenience.

Just like credit cards themselves did decades ago, smart pay systems are beginning to change the way we carry out financial transactions in our daily lives. More and more, people are loading credit card information into their smartphones to make it more convenient to charge on those cards. Now, according to a new report from the same concept that has taken smartphone technology to the next level could be hitting the dashboard of your next car or truck.

The smart pay system – currently in the design phase in a joint effort between Visa and Honda – would be integrated through the dashboard as an app. As the driver pulls up to the pump, the app automatically calculates the fuel needed and charges the credit card connected to the system. The driver would still have to get out and pump the gas, but no more swiping or punching in zip codes to get the gas you need, so it’s faster and more convenient.

Of course, there may be some challenges to integrating this technology in the way Visa and Honda intend. First it’s unclear if the system will be tied to a single credit card or if multiple credit cards can be used and selected as needed. This will be critical moving forward, considering many people use gas rewards credit cards to earn points or cash back. Limiting the system to a single card might make it harder to be strategic about which card you use at which pump.

There’s also another issue making a charging system that’s so seamless and automatic. This may make it more difficult for people to manage credit card debt effectively.

“Putting daily expenses like groceries and gas on a credit card to make it more convenient and potentially earn valuable rewards can be an acceptable financial practice,” explains Gary Herman, President of Consolidated Credit. “However, you need to budget carefully to ensure those charges are paid off in-full at the end of every month. Otherwise, interest charges on daily expenses can start to add up quickly and could put you at risk problems with debt.”

The technology is still on the concept phase, so many of the potential challenges mentioned above could be ironed out before it launches, “but Visa and other companies are betting that connected cars are on the horizon.” So it will be up to drivers to learn how to use this technology successfully without creating an increased risk of financial distress down the road.

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