Hidden Fee at the Pump Could Put You Over the Limit

By: Kristen Ross Email
By: Kristen Ross Email

Consumers beware: there's a hidden fee at the pump that could put you in the red.

Filling up at some local gas stations could limit your spending power, thanks to a hold, gas retailers are now implementing.

"This is the first time I came to this gas station," Bryan Resident Destyni Ross said.

When Ross pulled up at the HEB gas station in Bryan, she was planning to just fill up her tank.

"The first time I went to get gas it wouldn't let me, so I went to the attendant and asked what was wrong, if it was something with my debit card, he said no just go to another pump," Ross said.

Another pump, and $10.80 worth of gas later, and Ross was on her way.

"Later on that night I went online to check my account and it said I had a hold for $148, and I wasn't exactly sure what it was for," Ross said.

So, Ross contacted her bank.

"We've seen everything from $50 to $75," Gregg Baird with Aggieland Credit Union said. "Before the large spike in gas prices the average was just a dollar. So the increase did catch a number of people by surprise."

"Since it technically said I went to the gas station twice it held $148," Ross said.

So News 3 wanted to put several local gas stations to the test to see if a hold would be placed on our account after gassing up. We randomly selected three stations, the Shell station on East 29th street in Bryan, as well as the HEB, and Kroger gas stations off of Texas in College Station.

All three only put a dollar hold on the account.

Next we went to the HEB in Bryan, and even contacted their corporate office, about the hold on Ross' account.

They say a $74 hold is placed on consumers accounts by a third party, who processes their purchases.

"Even now that gas prices have gone back down, we see a lot of stations still kept those larger holds on file," Baird said. "Probably because of the current economic conditions to fully protect themselves."

It's a hold that can last on your bank account anywhere from a couple of seconds to several days.
And something Destyni Ross believes gas stations should have to let consumers know before they begin filling up.

"You don't know which gas station it is, it doesn't tell you which gas stations. They just do it and you don't know," Ross said.

You may be wondering what you can do to protect yourself. The banker News 3 talked with says one of the best things is to put away that check card and instead use a credit card.

Although credit cards still get the same hold put on them that check cards do, officials say by the time you get your statement at the end of the month those hold charges should be all cleared up.

Whereas with check cards, you tend to check them more frequently and if you don't have the extra money for the hold in your account it could overdraft you.

The corporate Treasury Office for HEB tells News 3, that the $74 hold on accounts, is actually down from what it was just a couple of months ago. They say then a hold could put up to a $125 freeze on your account.

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