The $151 charge from Flying J wasn’t on our credit card statement when I checked this morning. Our friend Jeane sent us a link to the following article which does a good job of explaining holds. I only copied and pasted a few paragraphs from the entire article.
“Swipe a card at the gas pump or check in to a hotel — or any place where your final total isn't known — and merchants often place a temporary hold on the account. The purpose is to make sure you can pay for that tank of gas, or for raiding the minibar on your way out.
"They’re used in situations where the total purchase is not known and cannot be easily returned," says Gray Taylor, executive director of Conexxus, a nonprofit that creates technology education and standards for the convenience store and retail petroleum industry.
Holds (sometimes called "blocks") can sometimes confuse consumers because there are three parties involved:
- The card networks (Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express) can set outside limits on how long a hold can last. For instance, a Visa hold can't exceed 30 days. An American Express hold can't last more than seven days for most of its cards, and no more than 15 days for its Bluebird and Serve products, according to a company spokeswoman.
- Individual card-issuing banks set the actual deadlines for how long a specific hold will remain. That can vary by bank, retailer, type of purchase and transaction, and cardholder.
- Merchants set the size of the hold. But the merchants don't ever receive that hold amount. They only receive the final transaction amount (otherwise known as your real total).
Compounding the confusion, hold times can sometimes differ between credit and debit cards, too.
With holds, the merchant electronically asks your card issuer, in advance, if you're good for a certain preset amount, says Shelle Santana, professor of business administration at Harvard University. On the other end of that electronic conversation, your card issuer sets aside that amount.
With a credit card, your credit line is temporarily reduced by the hold amount; with a debit card, the available balance is reduced. When the purchase is totaled, the difference between the hold and the purchase is credited back to the consumer.” http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/need-know-credit-debit-card-holds.php
This summer Costco dropped American Express and issued cards through Citibank. A good friend of ours had her phone set up to receive alerts any time her credit card is used. I chose to set our phone to receive alerts when a certain dollar amount is charged. This was the first time we were aware a “hold” was happening. In my traveling days I was aware of hotels with this practice but not gas stations.
This doesn’t change our minds about Flying J/Pilot stores—still not a fan. I was on hold for 10 minutes this morning and finally left a message which has not been returned. There are lots of gas stations out there with trucker pumps—we use those—they are usually $0.10/gallon less expensive than Flying J. Michael uses Google Earth to look at gas stations along the way for access and he uses Gas Buddy for pricing.
And after today’s experience we are most definitely NOT Flying J/Pilot shoppers! Many RVers use Flying J/Pilot truck stops due to the chain’s discount cards. Michael and I have never subscribed to that theory—every Flying J/Pilot truck stop we have ever seen is a zoo and a few cents off fuel just isn’t worth the hassle.
Today Michael let the promise of Dairy Queen ice cream draw him in to a Flying J as he was driving across Utah on his way back to Arizona from Montana. I had just spoken with him and he told me he was getting gas and ice cream. My cell phone is set up to text me if someone charges over a set amount on our Costco Visa card—it dinged and the text told me a charge for $151 was made at a Pilot store in Utah. Well now—that’s a lot of ice cream Michael!!! He’s in the Chevy pickup which by no means would hold $151 worth of fuel. When I called him back he denied eating that much ice cream and said he had put $37 in gas in the truck.
I called our credit card company and was told it’s Flying J/Pilot policy to “reserve” way more funds on your credit card than the gas station thinks you will use. And that charge will NOT come off your credit card for 2-3 days! It’s a dang good thing Michael and I don’t live close to the limit on our credit cards! What a ridiculous and outrageous scam—you couldn’t PAY us to shop at Flying J/Pilot stores—never again!
Emmi and I are still holding down the fort—yesterday I washed windows inside and out—this house has a LOT of windows!! Today I grocery shopped, walked the dog, and touched up some painting here in the hosue. We are both ready for Dad to get home!
Cute grandchildren photos coming up:
And sunset in the desert: