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SmartPay speeds up purchases at Cumberland Farms gas stations


Cumberland Farms is a chain of convenience stores in northeastern USA. They're quite prevalent in New England, and informally known as "Cumby's." There's a location less than two miles away from my house, so I was glad to test its new SmartPay service and free iPhone app, which lets you pay for gas and groceries will saving a bit along the way.

How it works

To get rolling, first register for free online and link your checking account. Two micro transactions are made and once you've confirmed those amounts, you're good. It only took two days for me.

From there, grab the free iPhone app and enter your login credentials. Note that you must enter your PIN each time you use the SmartPay app, which is good. You don't want a n'er-do-well (or the teenage driver in your family) grabbing your phone and going nuts on gas and groceries.

Using SmartPay

I fully expected to have issues with this. Not because I lacked faith in the system, but because I live in a technological backwater. But no, when I arrived at the Cumby's, all the gas pumps had shiny new SmartPay stickers prominently displayed.

To start pumping gas, approach the tank and produce your phone. Launch the app and tap the button labeled "Pay for gas." A login screen appears. Enter your PIN.

Next you're asked for the pump number, which is on the pump itself. Enter it, confirm the store ID (which is found on the SmartPay sticker) and watch in amazement as the pump is authorized. Also, you'll see the price per gallon drop by US$0.10. That's nice.

I know it sounds like that's time-consuming, but it's not. The amount of time I spent on those steps is equal to the time I spend producing my wallet, finding my ATM card, pulling it out and swiping it on the reader.

As you fill your tank, the app notes that the pump is currently dispensing fuel. When you're done, the app notes that fueling is complete and produces a nice animation of your completed sale, as well as the amount of money you saved on that fill-up. That savings calculator is cumulative, so you can monitor your savings over time. When I got home, an email was waiting for me, announcing the sale.

SmartPay speeds up purchases at Cumberland Farms gas stations

The SmartPay app works inside the store, too. Simply select your items and, instead of paying with cash or a card, present the cashier with a special bar code in the app. S/he zaps it with the cashier zapper and you're all set.

Who needs this?

While driving home after my first "iPhone fill-up," I wondered who this service is really for. As I said, I can produce my debit card just as quickly. But then it hit me: business accounts. Fuel up business cars and trucks from a business account. Let your drivers do the same.

Also, if you're traveling and don't want to bring cash or a card with you, this will work. Or, why not give that teen driver an allowance for this sort of thing on his/her iPhone? There are several scenarios that are a good fit for SmartPay.

It works well and is convenient. If you live near a Cumby's, check it out.

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