Gas prices have started to slowly inch downwards, but drivers are still feeling the pinch at the pump — this time from their credit or debit cards.
It’s no consumer secret that gas stations place a pre-authorization hold amount on credit or debit cards for some purchases. But as gas prices have risen, so have the holding fees.
When gas prices originally started skyrocketing, gas stations increased the “hold amount” for consumers who use credit or debit cards to pay for gas. That change could cost you more money if you can’t cover the hold.
For example, the gas station may place a $100 hold on your card even if you’re only buying $50 worth of gas.
The hold is to ensure consumers have the funds available to cover the total cost. It could take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days for the hold to be released.
Visa and Mastercard are now allowing gas stations to place holds of up to $175 on their cards.
In a recent article about “high holds,” Jeff Leonard, with the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing (NACS), told the Wall Street Journal, “When you set a hold that is a high number, it increases the likelihood that a consumer will overdraft because of the hold.”
And with overdrafts, consumers usually see hefty fees.
White Eagle Credit Union in Kansas tweeted some tips to their customers on pumping gas, reminding them to always select “credit” at the pump. The credit union said that by doing this, the system will “only” place a $1 authorization amount against their card.
Retail giant Kroger has raised its temporary hold on debit cards from $125 to $150 at all of its gas stations.
Also, rental car companies and hotels are doing the same.
The higher hold costs are a reflection of the country’s economy with record-high inflation and no signs of a turnaround any time soon.
To avoid hold costs, experts suggest that consumers use cash to pay or go inside the station and have the clerk set the amount they want to pay. Usually, since the final total is preset, there’s no hold involved.