Gas stations putting holds on bank cards?

Knoxville (WVLT) - Some local gas stations are putting holds higher than a hundred dollars on your bank account when you use a debit card.

Consumer advocate groups tell us this is something gas stations do to make sure they get their full amount of the gas purchase, but it could cause you to bounce other transactions.

Robert Martin's wife swiped her debit card at a raceway gas pump in Sweetwater. He says the pump didn't work, so she canceled the transaction and left. At home she logged onto her online banking.

"She pulled it up and there was a 75 dollar hold on the gas she was supposed to get that morning," Martin said.

Here's what's happening. When you swipe your debit card as a credit card--and don't type your pin number--your transaction isn't processed immediately. A 75, 100, or 125 dollar hold is placed on your account.

"Used to be holds were smaller but when gas doubled and increased max amount pumped at pump it increased the amount they hold," said Ed Mierzwinski from the US Public Interest Research Group.

The hold remains until the gas station tells their credit card company how much you really bought--which could be one, two or several days later.

"In modern computerized world there's no reason why banks shouldn't require the merchants to clear transactions every single day," Mierzwinski said.

The problem could cause issues for consumers with a limited amount of money in their checking account. Robert says he waited 5 days for the hold on his bank account to clear.

"I think it's bad something should be done about it," Martin said.

Nothing is being done to stop the holds placed on bank accounts, but the U.S. Public Interest Research Group is trying to stop banks from penalizing the consumer.

"Next year, I think the Federal Reserve will prohibit banks from bouncing other checks from holds which are completely unfair to consumer," Mierzwinski said.

Until then Robert and his wife will be using credit cards at the gas pump. PIRG says this could also happen at restaurants and hotels.

Consumers advocates groups advise you to use a credit card, cash, or a gas card when purchasing gas so you won't get a hold put on your account.


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  • by kris Location: Southern Cal. on Nov 21, 2011 at 12:52 PM
    Gas stations & credit cards: I have used 3 different gas stations over the past couple weeks and they are ALL doing the "double dip" immediately after the pump closes, your account receives an authorization (3day hold) for the gas purchase and depending on the bank the transaction is posted the following day or at midnight. This seems a bit unethical, I anticipate a class action lawsuit if enough people catch it and incurr overdraft fees. Trouble I am finding is the internet articles say its the banks, that banks will hold 50 or 75$ and release it when the exact batch posts from the gas station, but that is not whats happening, the hold is for the exact $$ transaction - how would the bank know the amount until the gas station batches its daily activity???? hold remains for the 3 days regardless, my banks said its not them also. So I've emailed a credit card processor for his input
  • by Cam Location: california on Aug 1, 2010 at 01:28 PM
    This has only recently begun to affect me when I pay at the pump with my debt card:( The gas station itself says it doesn't place this hold. My bank told me they didn't place this hole. Called the gas company and they said they did not place the hold. Only company left to blame....VISA! Have yet to call them and get the full sory but this run around has irked me. At least my bank reversed two check bouncing feels cuz the hold sent my account into the red, all unknown to me at the time!!! On a very strict budget. AND, if you use your debt card at the pump, I don't believe that the computer can't stop your transaction if you do not have funds in your account..if you at zero balnace, it should not authorize the transaction. If you go above your available balance, it should stop the pump...actually this has been the case with me in the past. So, I agree that some company is making big bucks off of those holds as the interest accrues but I feel it is VISA, not the gas companies.
  • by DMB on May 23, 2010 at 06:20 AM
    I worked at a hotel and when presented with debit cards, we always added an amount to the total b/c we had to assume they would rack up extra charges (room service, etc). They're supposed to come to the front desk to check-out, but most would simply leave. If you'd only approved the actual amount at check-in, you'd be short on what you'd collected from the guest and there'd be no way to collect after the guest had already gone. I am not going to boycott a gas station b/c someone tells me the station put a hold on their account. The stations have to cover themselves and when you swipe your card before pumping gas, the computer doesn't know if you're gonna pump $10 or $80 worth of gas so it has to guess and just pick an amount. The key to this whole story is to ALWAYS PUNCH IN YOUR PIN NUMBER. Do not let it go through as a "credit" or "bank" transacion. Always do a debit transaction and this shouldn't happen.
  • by joe Location: counts on Mar 25, 2010 at 06:55 PM
    there is one thing you can do. when this happens to you DO NOT ever buy gas from that station again. if everyone this happens to would not ever go back to any station that does this, and tell everyone you know about that station and request that they do not use that station until they change their policy we would see a quick change in this policy!
  • by Bubba Location: 94 on Dec 3, 2009 at 06:16 PM
    With a "hold," on a hundred bucks who really "owns," the money. Is that sum in the hands of the gas stations/oil companies. If so, and we multiply that by millions across the nation, and carry that sum for a few days; the interest generated is a vast amount. Could this be the oil companies sticking it to We The People again and again. I know a lot of older folks like me. We have all worked hard all our lives until we could not work any more. We live on what they call a "fixed," income. I do believe the word, "fixed," has several meanings. A lot of us heat our homes with oil. Heating oil costs more per gallon than gasoline. The process of turing crude oil into gas is more complicated and more expensive. Why then is #1 dyed heating oil more costly than gas? It is because they, the oil barrons say it is. What are you youngins going to do about this mess? You better begin to take a stand or when you are my age you will be having to eat fat.
  • by Lyn Location: (Raceway)San marcos, Texas on Mar 2, 2009 at 02:03 PM
    I got gas for 20.00 at Racetrack at 10:05 a.m. and drove to my bank at 10:10 and went to pull out money and I was told that there was insufficient funds from a 100.00 hold from Raceway 5 minutes ago. There was nothing the bank could do, they said, until Raceway released the hold. I did get charged a service fee from my bank for insufficient funds trying to withdraw 400.00 when they only showed that I had 300.00 available because of the hold.
  • by EP Location: RICHMOND VA on Feb 5, 2009 at 02:19 PM
    I googled this since this happened to me today! $100 hold on card!!! I freaked until I called my credit card company. If they are going to do this, put a big fat sign up!! Now I have to wait for my account to be straight.
  • by Fred Location: Michigan on Dec 14, 2008 at 06:07 PM
    Gas Stations are putting holds on Credit Cards to . I got $20.00 in gas they put a hold for $100 on my Discover Card . That is Fraud I think. I am checking what I can do . If they can't tell how much gas your getting then don't use pay at the pump. Last I looked it all a computer.
  • by John Location: Karns on Nov 6, 2008 at 05:14 PM
    What is the possibillity of someone coming up with a list of gas stations that do this so that people can just stop buying gas from them and go somewhere else???
  • by cheryl Location: middlebury, in on Sep 17, 2008 at 12:32 AM
    I live in Middlebury. I travel to elkhart & Goshen quite often. What is the deal with this gas>I had to pay $4.22 for gas (& THAT WAS WITH 5 CENTS OFF A GAL.) to get from Bristol St. Martins to home. Of course the $20.00 I put in onLy gave me 4.79 gals. The barrel price is down. WHY ARE I WE STILL PAYING OVER A DOLLAR FROM LAST YR. WITH THE BARREL PRICES ABOUT THE SAME??????? AS LAST YR. WE NEED SOME RELEIF NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can't get anywhere anymore. It doesn't even pay to go to work. All we are doing is paying for Gas!!!!!!!!!!!!
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