How to Retrieve a Stuck Credit Card from a Gas Pump

Having your credit card get stuck in a gas pump slot is a rare but troublesome event. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to get your card unjammed quickly and safely. This article explains common causes of stuck cards, how to retrieve them, and tips to avoid the problem altogether.

Why Credit Cards Get Stuck in Gas Pumps

There are several potential reasons your card may get lodged in the gas pump reader:

  • Worn-out card – Normal wear and tear from swiping and inserting can eventually damage the chip or magnetic strip on older cards, causing them to catch inside the machine. Newer credit cards are less prone to sticking.
  • Dirty magnetic strip – Debris and dirt on the card’s strip can prevent the gas pump from properly reading it to eject after fueling. Keeping your card clean prevents this issue.
  • Damaged card reader – Worn or defective internal parts in the pump itself can fail to release the card’s chip after inserting. Malfunctioning “skimmers” installed by criminals to steal credit card data may also retain cards.
  • Random mechanical jam – In rare cases, a simple mechanical failure can cause a temporary card jam. However, this is uncommon.
  • Bad “skimmer”Criminals install skimmers to steal data that illegally retain cards.

While avoiding fully worn cards and keeping yours clean reduces sticking risks, unexpected jams can still sporadically occur.

Retrieving a Stuck Credit Card from a Gas Pump

If your credit card does not eject after fueling, stay calm and follow these tips to safely retrieve it:

1. Notify the Gas Station Attendant

Alert staff that your card is stuck so they can assist or take proper precautions. Do not drive away yet.

2. Have Them Turn Off the Pump

Attendants should power cycle the pump to avoid issues if other customers try to use the malfunctioning unit.

3. Attempt to Remove Card After Reset

Turning the pump off and on again can clear temporary card jams. Try gently removing your card once more, wiggling it loose.

4. Ask Staff to Open the Pump Housing

If your card remains stuck, gas station staff will need to open the internal card reader housing manually using special tools to pull it out.

5. Examine Card Before Taking It

Once dislodged by the attendant, check your credit card for any damage before putting it away.

6. Request a Receipt

Ask staff for a receipt documenting the incident in case you need to verify dates/times due to fraud.

7. Contact Card Provider

Notify your credit card company to report what happened in case of potential unauthorized use. They may also replace a damaged card.

Tips to Avoid Credit Cards Getting Stuck

To minimize the risk of your card getting jammed in a gas pump, experts recommend:

  • Regularly replacing older, worn credit cards more prone to sticking. Newer chipped cards often get stuck less.
  • Visually inspecting the card slot before inserting for suspicious skimming devices.
  • Gently wiggling the card as you insert and remove to prevent jamming inside.
  • Keeping your card clean of debris in your wallet to ensure smooth inserting and ejecting.
  • Using credit over debit cards when possible, as credit card chips tend to get stuck less often.

While you cannot prevent every gas pump malfunction, inspecting slots and caring for your credit cards properly will significantly reduce sticking incidents.


Having to deal with retrieving a stuck credit card from a gas pump can certainly be an inconvenient, frustrating situation. However, by staying calm, alerting attendants, and following proper card removal procedures, you can typically quickly resolve the issue with minimal disruptions to your day. Being aware of what causes stuck cards and tips to avoid them can also help prevent many card-capturing mishaps in the first place.