The end is near…at least to long debit holds


We support reforms to the financial marketplace that protect consumers from unscrupulous banks and lenders.

By Consumers Union on Monday, August 18th, 2008

The rules at Visa and MasterCard for debit card purchases at the gas pump will change, and hopefully leave the debit hold problem a thing of the past once the rules are implemented.

Visa’s new “Real Time Clearing” process goes into effect October 2008, which would enable gas stations and their banks to clear your debit transaction at the pump within two hours of you swiping your card. Gas stations and banks need to get on board and adopt Visa’s rule change in order for consumers to benefit. MasterCard’s new rule goes into effect next June, and requires all banks to process debit transactions at the pump within 24 hours, or the next business day.

Debit holds have been causing many consumers headaches and sometimes tacking on overdraft fees. Current Visa and MasterCard rules allow merchants and banks to place a debit hold on your account when you swipe your debit card at the pump for up to three business days. We commented about this issue in a previous blog, “Who’s holding your money.”
We’ve sent letters to major oil companies to find out if they will be adopting Visa’s Real Time Clearing process by October. So far, we’ve heard from Hess and Chevron, and both have said they will.

You can and should ask your gas station if they will be adopting Visa’s new rule by October. If you’re using a MasterCard branded debit card, you will have to wait until next summer for your transactions to clear faster. However, with the MasterCard rule change, it will be a sure thing.

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