Long have we heard complaints from some of our users that some gas stations have been putting significant holds on customers who choose to use credit cards. While I had never personally seen such a thing happen to me, I was "lucky" enough to have it happen to me last weekend.
I pulled into a travel stop in Burns Harbor, Indiana, on a motorcycle, with a measly 4.5 gallon tank. I only needed to top off, so I bought just a couple gallons of gasoline, left, and didn't think much of my $12 purchase.
After looking at my credit card transactions online later that afternoon I learned that the travel center in question put a massive $151 hold on my credit card- all for $12 in gasoline. In past situations, I'd notice a $1 pre-authorization that drops, but this time, the pre-authorization was a whopping $151. Curious what policy had changed, I e-mailed the travel center's customer service to see why they placed such a large hold on my credit card, leaving me with a big chunk of credit that was unusable as the charge waited to clear.
Karen, a customer service representative at Pilot Travel Centers e-mailed me back, saying "at the end of February, we rolled out a pump upgrade on Visa transactions that will allow for clearing of the transaction in real time, as opposed to the regular 2-3 business days. This is being done in response to consumer credit card legislation being passed that states that all banks must move to "Real Time" systems."
Karen also goes on to say,
In a real time system the hold of $151 will only be on your card for a few hours or less. Many banks are equipped to handle these types of transactions. Smaller, community banks and credit unions, even a few of the larger banks, may not be set up to handle these types of transactions yet.
In these situations, the $151.00 hold will remain on the account as it otherwise wouldn't until the transaction clears. Per Visa, we raised the hold amount from $75 to $151.00. We raised the amount of fuel that can be pumped at one time to $150.00 before the pump shuts off and this is why we raise the preauthorization amount as much as we did.
Using a debit card and typing in your pin number will keep the $150 hold from going on your account. You can also go into the store and prepay a smaller amount, and then the only amount held will be the preauthorized amount.
I guess there's my answer- it is apparently my banking institution at fault for this. However, I'm still not delighted by the temporary $151 reduction in my available credit.
Have any of you had problems similar to this with credit card holds? Let us know in the comments!