BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) – We all pay close attention to what we spend at the pump, which may explain why more and more people are now noticing “hold fees” added to their gas purchases.
And as gas prices skyrocket, so do those holding charges.
Linda Begley stopped for gas the other day. But this time, the gas pump hit his debit card for $125, nearly emptying his checking account.
“They put a $125 hold on a $32 gas purchase, which was about four times the amount of my gas,” she said.
It’s called a “pre-authorization hold,” and they get bigger as gas prices go up.
Kroger, the nation’s largest grocery chain, increased the temporary hold from $125 to $150, meaning you must have $150 in your checking account to buy gas with a debit card.
Fortunately, the charge was removed 24 hours later.
What if your bank account is low. But Begley wonders what would have happened if she had needed his money that night. His account was reportedly precariously low.
“It really leaves people in a precarious situation if you need food, medicine, baby stuff or whatever.”
So why do pump jacks exist in the first place?
Experts say it’s a safety measure to make sure you can afford that expensive fill-up and won’t walk away with free gas.
Nathan Grant of Money Tips said, “When you stop at the pump, they don’t know if you’re going to put in $10, which I know is a rare occasion these days with gas prices, but you might get a little, or you might fill the whole tank.
Grant says a hold can occur with a credit or debit card.
There is no industry standard, so holdbacks can range from $20 to $100 ($50 is the most popular amount).
The gas station decides the amount, but your bank makes the deduction.
What you can do to protect yourself
So how can you avoid it?
Grant says pay cash or pay inside.
“If you park and drive in and pay at the cashier, that will ease the hold as well,” he said. “It’s literally just paying at the pump, using the terminal itself with your card and all.”
And don’t be surprised by other withholding fees when traveling this summer: they’re also common when booking a hotel room or rental car.
Linda Begley wants to warn others.
“I feel bad for people whose account is bouncing and getting charged a fee,” she said.
This way you don’t waste your money.
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