As gas prices steadily climb, many local drivers are pinching pennies so they can fill up their tank. However, a growing trend among gas stations may have drivers in sticker shock when they check their debit card balance after the pump.
When drivers use debit cards to pump gas, the retailer will usually place an authorization hold on their bank accounts until the actual amount that is spent, clears. Then, the withheld money is released back to the customer. The amounts vary. Some stations hold only a dollar, but several Lubbock stations are holding much more than that.
Lubbock driver Amanda Minor learned that the hard way, just a few hours after she pumped $30 worth of gas at the Amigo's grocery story on North University.
"I checked my balance and it was a little lower than I knew it should be. I discovered the authorization for $120," Minor said.
Eddie Owens works for United Supermarkets, which owns Amigo's. He says authorization holds for gasoline are nothing new.
"Any time a guest pulls up to use a debit card, there's no way to guarantee that payments going to be made, so the bank essentially has to get an authorization," Owens said.
But with gas prices climbing, retailers like United and others are holding onto more. Owens says United's authorization hold is $120, which he says is based on industry standards.
"Ours is determined by what is the price of gasoline and what's the maximum a guest is likely to purchase," Owens said.
Minor says she understands the holds are necessary, and she isn't angry with United. She just wishes she was given a heads up about how much the hold was going to be.
"I have a Camry, a smaller car that has 15 to 16 gallon tank. You know, $75 I can see, it's understandable. $120, that's a lot," Minor said.
At the Amigo's, there is a notice on all of the gas pumps that warns about authorization holds. However, it does not say how much money will be held.
"My biggest thing is they need to let their customers know, as a courtesy, that the fee is going to be on there and it is an authorization, if they choose to pay with a debit card. That way they can make an educated decision on whether they want to pay a different way," Minor said.
United Supermarkets is not the only retailer who has an authorization hold. KCBD NewsChannel 11 did some checking at other gas station chains, and found out amounts vary from $75 to $100:
Stripes - $75
7-11 - $75
EZ-Mart - $75
Lowe's Grocery Store - $100
Walmart says they do not have an authorization hold.
Copyright 2012 KCBD. All rights reserved.