Credit card pre-authorization holds at gas stations

Credit card pre-authorization holds at gas stations
Gas stations will post a sign informing customers of the potential pre-authorization holds, with possible amounts. (Source: KTRE)

LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - It’s a task many people do weekly, filling up your gas tank. 

Sometimes when you look at your bank statement after the purchase, there’s an amount that’s more than what you paid for the gas.

This hold is called a debit or credit card "pre-authorization hold" that gas stations can place on your card when you swipe it at the pump, to protect themselves.

“The pre-authorized transaction is really just an inquiry, potentially sometimes a zero dollar amount,” said Brandon Bozeman, chief retail officer at UBank. “Depending on the merchant or where you’re making the transaction, sometimes they’ll actually take a dollar amount to put a hold, temporarily, on that amount. And then once that’s cleared, the actual authorization, then it falls off the account.”

Thomas Travis made three purchases, one to the post office, the gas station, and a grocery story. He didn’t find out about the gas station hold until he was back home.

“Pilot gas station at 69 and the Loop in Lufkin, they had charged me $151,” Travis said. “So First Bank card tells me this, I don’t know this. I’ve got my ticket that says $21.17.”

Travis said he is concerned for people who have not been exposed to this.

“It’s wrong to charge somebody for something in an amount that they did not obligate themselves to,” Travis said.

Bozeman said holds on credit cards also help to keep the customers safe from fraudulent activity.

“In a debit situation, if you use your pin, it’s direct. There’s typically no hold and it’s like going to an ATM or using debit at the gas pump,” Bozeman said. “It will automatically debit your account the full amount, so there’s no need for a pre-authorization hold.”

Bozeman said that gas stations are not the only places that can put holds accounts.

When booking hotel rooms or renting a car, he said a hold can be placed for three to five days before it falls off.

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