Holds on Your Money

As if gas prices aren’t high enough, imagine paying one price at the pump, only to find out it could actually cost even more.

Here’s why…holds on your account.  I recently got a notice about this from the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection.  Here’s the scenario they posted:

Dear Consumer Ed:

Last week I used my debit card to pay for $35 worth of gas.  The next day when I went to buy groceries, my card was declined.  I called my bank and discovered that the gas station had placed a $100 “hold” on my account, reducing my account balance to nearly zero.  Are they allowed to do that?

Consumer Ed says:

Yes – at least for now.  Although it seems unfair, gas companies justify this to make sure they are paid when consumers take advantage of pump-based debit card transactions, which usually do not require a PIN number and often take days to process.

What likely happened was when you swiped your debit card at the gas pump, the transaction verified that you had money in your account but could not predict how much money you would need to pay for the gas that you were about to pump.  This unknown is why the debit card swipe automatically placed a $100 hold on your account-which prevented you from buying groceries the next day.  This hold lasted so long because such non-PIN number transactions often take days to process.

Here are some ways you can protect yourself:

    • If you must use a debit card, pay inside where the cashier can verify the amount of your purchase and thus allow a PIN number transaction-which processes immediately and does not result in an unfair hold on your account.
    • If you pay at the pump, use a credit card.  Although gas companies also place holds on credit card limits, such limits do not usually prevent access to your credit line.
    • Pay with an oil company credit card because most oil companies do not place holds on their customers’ credit card limits.
    • Pay with cash.  This may save you money because some gas stations give discounts if you pay with cash.

You can find more topics like this at www.consumered.org  or  http://consumer.georgia.gov.






About Save a Dime on 9

Save a Dime with 9 is part of WTVM's continuing effort to reach out to the community. Our ConsumerWatch team is constantly digging for deals and information that can help you and your family stretch your dollar. There are lots of other good savings blogs and websites out there, but Save a Dime saves you time and money because we're a one stop shop. Where else can you get free tax advice, tips on couponing and even the scoop on the latest tech gadgets all in one place? The answer...you're here! So let's start our savings journey together. If you have a blog idea for us, send an email to consumerwatch@wtvm.com. Please include a phone number so that we can reach you, if necessary.
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