Gas prices are unfathomably high nationwide. At present, 19 states are contending with prices near, at, or over $5 per gallon. And not one state has prices that are below $4 per gallon. Needless to say, filling up your tank is sure to take a noticeable toll on your wallet. And at a time when inflation has caused the cost of everything imaginable to soar, high gas prices have an even greater impact. As a result, many folks are starting to pull back on how much they put in their tanks at a time to try and curb their spending output as much as possible. However, gas stations across the nation have started placing holds for over $150 on individuals’ credit and debit cards even before the gas reaches their tanks.
Residents across the nation are being hit with an authorization charge at gas stations prior to them even filling their tanks. The Wall Street Journal disclosed that oftentimes this charge is equal to $175. In the past, gas stations would typically not charge more than $125 for a pre-authorization hold, however, the limit was increased as a consequence of soaring gas prices. The charge is temporary and it is in place to ensure that the individual attempting to buy gas actually has the money to do so. The temporary charge is immediately placed on the card when one inserts it into the machine.
However, though temporary, for some, it is exceedingly problematic. This is especially true for those living on an exceedingly tight budget. For instance, a person with a limited budget may not have $175 on their card at any given time. Thus, if they pull up to the gas station to get gas, their card would automatically be declined. Or, if a person’s banking institution allows for overdrafts the charge would go through, and although temporary, it could put the individual at risk of incurring an overdraft fee. And if one is running on that tight of a budget, the last thing that they could afford is paying for an overdraft fee that wasn’t even their fault.
Moreover, the temporary hold that gas stations are charging works differently for debit and credit cards and there are also variations depending on what banking institution an individual uses. Many debit cards will reverse the hold in minutes or hours after someone buys gas, and what will remain debited is the actual price equal to the amount of gas they actually put in their tank. In contrast, on a credit card, the charge will remain as a separate charge for as long as days after the transaction was completed. If someone is tight on money, waiting for a hold to be removed could mean the difference between them getting food that day or not.
Overall, it’s understandable why gas stations would want to protect their bottom lines by ensuring that the folks buying gas have the money to do so. And thankfully, those aware of the charge can easily avoid it by paying in advance at the register for the exact amount of gas that they want with either cash or a card.