Using Your Debit Card at the Pump

  • 26 June, 2012


Why Did VISA Make a Change?

VISA changed their dispensing limit in response to increased fuel prices and consumer complaints about pumps shutting off at $75. This change was effective June 18, 2011.

 Why in the world does the gas station run a pre-authorization anyway?

When you first swipe your card, the gas station has no idea how much fuel you are going to buy – you could be putting $40 or $120 of fuel in your tank. The pre-authorization tells them you have enough money to get at least $125. When you complete your purchase, they send the bank the actual amount of the purchase and the pre-authorization goes away.

 If the pre-authorization goes away, what’s the problem?

This can sometimes be confusing: it doesn’t always go away immediately. Depending on the station you use, it could take minutes to change or it could be as long as 72 hours. That pre-authorization is holding the funds in your account temporarily until the change is made. Let’s look at an example: the station has pre-authorized $125, but you only buy $40 in gas. Even though you didn’t actually spend the other $85, those funds are on hold in your account until the station sends the final $40 charge.

 What if I don’t have $125?

Don’t worry. You can always choose to pay inside. When you go into the station, they will pre-authorize only the amount of gas you want to purchase. Tell them you want $40, they will pre-authorize $40, and the pump will shut off at $40.

 Other Options – Overdraft privilege without the overdraft

If you have qualified for the Assured Money Overdraft Privilege and have chosen to opt-in for debit card transactions, you have the additional funds available to be used for pre-authorization amounts. As long as you don’t actually spend more than you have in your checking account, you never actually overdraw your account and no fees are charged. Confused? Let’s take a look at an example to see how it works:

You have $80 in your account and you know you need to get $30 in gas and then another $25 in groceries. The gas station is going to pre-authorize $125 which you don’t have in your account. If you have opted-in to debit card overdraft privilege, the pre-authorization amount will be checked against your actual account balance plus the balance available through Assured Money Overdraft Privilege. No problem, the $125 pre-authorization goes through and you get $30 in gas and travel to the store for groceries. The next morning the $125 pre-authorization has disappeared, no overdraft has occurred and your account has $25 left in it ($80 original balance minus the gas and groceries).


Note: Overdraft privilege is intended to be used for protection against inadvertent overdrafts. If you overdraw your account, a NSF fee (currently $31.93) is applied to your account. This fee applies to any transaction that overdraws your account including checks, ATM withdrawals, automatic payments and debit card transactions. Please see your local branch for additional information regarding the Assured Money Overdraft Privilege Program or call us at 866-668-4700.



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