Avoiding holds at the gas station

For many of us, the temporary hold placed when we pay at the gas pump can really tie up our finances. We have tips to avoid the hassle. 

When you tap to pay or insert your debit card at the pump, the gas station doesn’t know how much gas you will actually buy. You could be filling up a small car or a large work truck. Though you might only buy $20 worth of gas, the station will often place a temporary pre-authorization hold, sometimes as much as $175, on your account until the charge clears. Once the gas station sends the actual charge to the bank to be finalized, they will release the hold. That can be anywhere from a few hours to a few days. For many of us, that temporary hold can really tie up our finances!  


These temporary holds are not new – gas stations, hotels, and restaurants have been placing them for years as a way to protect themselves against theft and fraud. It’s only recently that the amounts have risen along with gas prices. Old Glory Bank has no control over the holds that retailers place, but we do have some tips to avoid these surprises and inconveniences at the pump.  


Pay Inside 

The best option is to pay inside the gas station with your debit card before you pump. You can tell the station the exact amount to pre-authorize, such as $50 or $75, depending on your expected purchase. The station will set the pump to only dispense that amount of gas into your tank, and they won’t need to place a temporary hold for more than that amount.  


Pay with PIN 

Debit transactions entered without a PIN are subject to the largest hold, because they take a few days to clear. Debit purchases paid with a PIN are settled immediately, which allows the gas station to release the hold quickly, often within minutes. So, when you do pay at the pump, be sure to choose the PIN option.  


Enjoy the convenience of using your Old Glory Bank debit card with patriotic pride, and without the surprises.