Sunday, September 7, 2008

Credit Card @ the Pumps

I had approx. $140 left on my MasterCard, when I bought $15.02 gas at a local gas station (Petro Canada.) On my way home, I decided to use my card to pay for some groceries, much to my surprise, the card was declined. This was strange, as I was certain I had about $120 left after my gas payment. Fearing that some fraudulent activity had taken place, I called the credit card company and was told that there was a hold on my account for $120 from Petro Canada. What had happened was that in paying at the pump, a hold was put on my account by Petro Canada as a means of ensuring that payment went through. This hold is anywhere from two to four days. I called them (PetroCan) and asked why a note or bulletin was not posted at the pumps, where patrons would easily find it. No real explanation or answer was given (as there never is).

I was finally told after being flipped back and forth from credit card company to gas company and back again, (after trying to have this hold taken off) that when paying by credit card at the pumps, the transaction is not handled the same as when payment is made with the cashier. For whatever reason, a hold is placed on credit cards and debit cards when a payment is made at the pumps. This, however, is not the case with payments that are made with the cashier inside, as the transaction is instantaneous and the amount paid for is all that is taken out of the account. The credit card company was informative, as they told me that all Canadian gas companies do this and the amounts held vary from $99(Pioneer) to $150(Sunoco) and everything in between, depending on the gas company. Gas companies in the US will hold as little as $1. If you only have enough funds on your credit card to cover the gas payment, your card will be declined and it would be in your best interest to pay inside.

In the case of debit cards, they ensure that the amount held is in the account. In my situation, if I only had $15.02 in my account, the transaction would not have gone through, and the machine would have told me I had insufficient funds. The same transaction would go through no problem, had I paid with the cashier.

Do yourself a favour, take a few minutes and walk in to pay for your gas purchases with the cashier.

You wouldn't want to go on that dinner date, only to find out, when the bill comes, that your card has been declined. Imagine the embarrassment.

Happy Shopping!!!!
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