Why You Might Be Charged $175 the Next Time You Gas up

Shocked woman holding a credit card
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The next time you use a credit or debit card at the gas pump, don’t be surprised to see a charge of up to $175 on the card.

Gas stations are placing bigger holds on such cards due to inflation, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Each time you pay with plastic at the pump, stations place a hold on your account because they don’t know how much gas you will purchase. The hold disappears once you have bought the gas and the correct amount has been established, but it can take hours, and sometimes longer, before this process is complete, the WSJ reports.

While that might not sound like a big deal, it does raise the potential for overdrafts for those who use debit cards, or higher credit utilization rates for those who use credit cards. (Your credit utilization rate is the share of the credit available to you that you owe at a given point — and it accounts for 30% of your FICO score.)

In addition, it’s possible that debit cardholders might not have enough cash in their accounts to cover the $175 hold, in which case the transaction might be declined.

As gas prices have soared, Visa and Mastercard have each raised the top end on gas station holds from $125 to $175. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do about these holds, apart from being aware of them and making sure your card can handle a larger hold before you gas up.

Of course, you could turn to an old-fashioned payment system immune from holds of any size: cash. You might save money in the process, as some stations advertise lower gas prices for customers willing to pay cash (which spares stations from card transaction processing fees).

Worried about the toll higher gas prices are taking on your budget? Check out “7 Smart Ways to Save Money at the Gas Pump.”

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