What you should know about using your debit card at the gas station

You fill up, pay up, and think, that’s it.

But depending on the type of plastic you use, you might uncover what Michael O’Shea did when he checked the company debit card his granddaughter had used at a Spinx gas station in West Greenville.

“There was a charge of $10 dollars for gas. Then we noticed there was a charge of $75 in addition to, so that’s when I decided to question and I first questioned my granddaughter.” said O’Shea, who happens to be a forensic accountant.

“I was like Oh my God, I’m so sorry, I was like it was just $10 dollars, like it was just 10, I was like that was it,” said his granddaughter, Tamara Sewell.

She called Spinx, and the family asked us to follow up for more information.

Spinx told 7News they get a lot of calls on this.

Sandy Turner, the Marketing Director for Spinx says anytime you use a debit card at a gas station there’s a hold placed on your account, an amount determined by the retailer. In the case of Spinx it’s $75.

We asked Spinx, why so much? They said it accounts for both trucks and cars.

We asked, who holds that money?

“The bank,” said Turner.

“The money never leaves your bank. It doesn’t come to Spinx and Spinx is not holding it. It is inaccessible to you in your account at that time but it doesn’t go anywhere. It never leaves your account. It remains there the entire time until the bank then releases that hold and the amount of time that takes is completely determined by the financial institution,” said Turner.

And that can be up to three days. For Sewell and O’Shea it was 48 hours.

“I just think that that’s terrible. I was like what if that’s your last $75 and you needed that for you know, groceries,” said O’Shea.

There are 3 ways to get around the hold:

1) You can pay at the pump with the new cash acceptors
2) You can pay by credit card at the pump
3) You can pay with your debit card, INSIDE.

O’Shea is glad to know the truth.

“As far as my granddaughter is concerned. She’s in the clear, on this one anyway,” he said with a smile.

And since not all pumps have a disclosure sign, we wanted to make sure you know, too. And these types of debit card holds also occur at hotels and even restaurants where they don’t yet know how much you’ll tip.

By the way, we also looked into why some people notice the debit card hold and others have never seen it.
We found out, the process can be almost instantaneous at some of the bigger banks, while smaller institutions and credit unions may take longer.

It also depends on the time of day. If it’s later, it may take longer for your bank to process and lift the hold.

Point is, if you have questions about the hold amount contact the retailer. If you have questions about the hold duration, call your bank.

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