What's The Deal With Debit Card Holds?

Has it ever happened to you? You make a purchase with a debit card and the merchant puts a "hold" on money in your account over and above the purchase price?

Has it ever happened to you?  You make a purchase with a debit card and the merchant puts a "hold" on money in your account over and above the purchase price?

The "hold" essentially freezes your money until the merchant or bank decides to release those funds back to you.  Keep in mind...the purchase can't go through if the money to cover it isn't in your account.  So why is this additional money being frozen?  More importantly, why is this practice allowed?

We have done several stories about  "holds" in the past and I will be exploring the issue again real soon.  I must admit my renewed interest comes after I noticed several "holds" on recent Christmas purchases.  In one instance we purchased an item for $72.00.  The merchant  "held" and additional $144.00.  When we inquired the "hold" was removed.  That tells me something is not right about the whole process.

Lucky for me there was enough money in the account that it didn't cause any problems with other bills that were being paid.  But I know that is not the case for countless others who have encountered the same issue.  And It's those individuals I want to hear from.

If you have a story to tell when it comes to this issue you can either post a comment on this blog or email me at dave.jordan@witn.com.

Together, we're going to get to the bottom of why this is happening...and find a solution!

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Danyell Daniels Location: Houston, Texas on Sep 8, 2009 at 05:20 PM
    This has happened to me several times and should be stopped. Is this legal? This "hold" seems to happen when I pay bills over the phone with my debit card or if I go to the gas station. A lot of times gas stations put the funds back within a few minutes sometimes even an hour, but if you have not authorized this merchant to take other then what you have purchased, it should not be deducted from your account!! As stated earlier, when I pay bills over the phone certain companies will hold an additional amount to make sure that their transactions are covered. What is very disturbing is that this can disrupt other activities going on in your account!! This has to stop and needs to stop.
  • by william Location: rocky mount on Jan 2, 2009 at 09:48 AM
    At locations where you swipe the card yourself, enter the debit card as a credit card. I've never had a hold using this method.
  • by more info? Location: williamston on Dec 31, 2008 at 01:17 PM
    where do you find the information about 'holds' on funds in your account? I do NOT carry cash. I use my debit card for all purchases, including paying at the pump everytime I fill up w/ gas. I am NOT a wealthy person and it's never been a problem for me.
  • by College Mom Location: Eastern NC on Dec 24, 2008 at 12:35 PM
    With a child in college the holds that Sheetz gas stations ($75.00) puts on her small account has caused too much what is happening and cost us too much in bank fees. We were told by the company that she would have to go inside to pay first. Hard to do if you are filling up to predict how much. Our advice to her find another gas station. They don't reimburse for the bank fees. This is a hard lesson on one learning to balance a check book and she knows the funds are there.
  • by Mary Location: North Carolina on Dec 22, 2008 at 06:04 AM
    My husband recently bought some gas cards for some family members. We were told that if they were used at the gas pump, it would "HOLD" $75.00 for a few days. The cashier said the person would need to go into the store to use the gas cards and that wouldn't happen. I would not have purchased them as I wanted the person (elderly/disabled) to be able to use it at the pump.
  • by Jan Location: New Bern on Dec 19, 2008 at 10:17 AM
    The only time I've had holds placed on purchases is when i use "credit" on the debit card or use the card in a restuarant w/out putting a tip on the card. They usually hold out 20% of bill for a tip until the amount if sign for clears the bank. p.s. tip is always left as cash on the table. Then the waitress does not have to wait for her/his tip.
  • by Ted Location: Greenville on Dec 18, 2008 at 12:57 PM
    I've experienced the same thing. Unfortunately my bank account isn't as large as yours. A couple of times after getting gas I stopped at the grocery store only to have my card rejected. I later found out that the gas station was putting a hold on my card. It's extremely embarrassing when this happens and I don't think it should be allowed. This practice has caused me to stop using the "pay at the pump" as I'm told if you pay for the gas inside there will be no hold placed on your funds.
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