ALTOONA, Pa. -- The Sheetz convenience store chain here will roll out a radio frequency-based credit/rewards card. It will also install receivers equipped to accept the card and other RF-based contactless payment options at its 305 stores by March.
The Sheetz card, which allows customers to charge purchases to a MasterCard credit card while earning money-back discounts in the form of Sheetz gift cards, is powered by MasterCard's PayPass technology, and features the MasterCard and Sheetz logos. PayPass cards are embedded with a chip and radio frequency antenna.
"The technology allows customers to wave their card in front of [the receiver] within striking distance. The RFID signal is read, and information is captured," said Lou Sheetz, executive vice president, Sheetz. "This method is easier than traditional readers that require you to insert your card and pull it out quickly."
The chain plans to install about three or four receivers inside its stores, and between 12 and 16 outside at its fuel pumps.
In addition to the Sheetz card, Sheetz's RF receivers will accept transactions initiated with PayPass cards that do not feature the Sheetz logo. It will also process American Express' RF-based contactless payment card called ExpressPay. Both PayPass and ExpressPay were built according to the open industry standard for radio frequency communications, ISO 14443. Only Sheetz cards earn rewards from Sheetz.
Sheetz's announcement follows Woonsocket, R.I.-based CVS' recently publicized plan to roll out the American Express ExpressPay payment system to more than 5,300 stores by mid-2005 (SN, Jan. 3, 2005, Page 30).
Some supermarkets have also tested RF payment systems. The ExpressPay system is being tested at 48 Fry's Food and Drug Stores in Arizona. Stop & Shop discontinued a test of the ExxonMobil Speedpass payment system last September.
"Last year, we began developing plans for a credit card rewards program because we've never had one before," said Sheetz. "MasterCard introduced this technology to us and we liked it. We're always looking for ways to make credit card transactions faster. We'll do anything to shave seconds off the [payment] process."
Payments under $25, initiated at Sheetz with PayPass or ExpressPay cards, will not require a signature, while payments $25 and over will.
Sheetz cardholders will receive gift cards, based on the amount of purchases made with their Sheetz card. Gift cards are sent to cardholders in $25 denominations automatically, each time $25 worth of rewards are earned, said Sheetz.
During a customer's first month as a cardholder, 10% of purchases made at Sheetz with the Sheetz card are rewarded in gift cards. Beyond the first month, 3% of purchases initiated with the card will be rewarded to the customer. In addition, 1% of purchases made with the Sheetz credit card at places other than Sheetz is eligible for rewards.
Following its 2003 PayPass pilot with 16,000 cardholders and more than 60 retail locations, MasterCard reported that consumers found the payment option to be quick and convenient. They also valued the added security they received from retaining possession of their card while paying, said MasterCard.