With gas prices nearing $4 a gallon this spring, filling the gas tank is becoming more and more expensive.
But lately, many drivers are finding that gas stations are charging them even more when they fill up with a Debit Card.
Unexpected $125 on Card
Denise Aguero of Loveland, Ohio, recently checked her account balance after getting gas at Kroger, and was stunned to learn her Debit Card had a hold on it for $125.
"I just think that $125 is unreasonable," Aguero said. "Unless they tell me in advance. If they tell me, I don't mind."
But Denise says Kroger never warned her about the big fee. She says it almost caused her to overdraft the next time she used her card.
"Then you could have an overdraft fee, and have other purchases you can't make that you don't have the money for," Aguero said.
How it Works
It's known as a "Pre-Authorization" or a "Debit Card Hold." Many gas stations now do this.
This is not an issue if you pay with a Credit Card. By the time you get your monthly statement, the charge is long gone.
It hits you if you use a Debit Card, and according to consumer groups is a especially a concern if you use your Debit Card "as credit," without punching in your PIN number.
The hold, which usually lasts just an hour or two, protects gas stations from customers who buy $60 worth of gas, but have only 10 bucks in their account.
Varies Depending on Debit Card
But don't yell at the gas station clerk or Kroger. A Kroger spokesperson tells us that the amount of the hold is set by your bank, not the gas station. With some cards, the Kroger hold is just $1, with others it's a more modest $50.
Still, Denise thinks stations putting any sort of hold on debit cards should alert customers.
The Bottom Line
Remember, Kroger is not the only gas station that does this. So no matter where you fill up, if your account is low, and you are using a Debit Card, you might want to ask the clerk if they pre-authorize, so you don't waste your money.
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