Specifically, the credit-card giant has applied for a patent related to technology that can scan purchasing habits to determine a consumer's car type and driving habits, according to Free Patents Online. Anything from car-buying information to service-station expenses to gasoline purchases could theoretically be analyzed. The idea is to provide valuable consumer data for firms in sectors such as the insurance or advertising industries. MasterCard says such a technology would ultimately be a lot cheaper than conducting telephone or online surveys.
So, beware that a future where an auto repair or filling up at the pump may trigger some spam or other unsolicited offers could be in the offing. The alternative, of course, is to pay cash.