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Don't Waste Your Money: Watch those holds with debit cards

Don't Waste Your Money: Watch those holds with debit cards
Posted at 1:01 PM, Dec 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-07 14:03:02-05

Scrambling to get that holiday shopping done? We have a caution before you pull out a debit card.

A caution as you rush to finish up your holiday shopping.

One woman found out why shopping online with a debit card may not be the best idea.

Patricia Babin found a great deal on Amazon, grabbing a 55-inch HDTV for just $283.

But it appeared that either Amazon or her bank grabbed her money twice!

"It looked like at first a double charge,” she said.

It turned out to be a "preauthorization hold" for the TV's cost ... which left her card down over $600.

"I expected the pre-authorization to drop off. But it did not," Babin said.

So she called, and learned authorization charges on debit cards can take several days to be returned.

"It takes three to five business days, not weekends," she said. "I think that’s wrong.”

This is a common problem for people who use debit cards ... and it's not limited to just Amazon.

It happens at other retailers, and especially at gas stations.

"It was this pump? It was this pump."

Last year Shari Renfro pumped $47 worth of gas ... but her debit card was hit with a $125 hold!

“There was no money on it, when I knew there was money on it,” Renfro said.

Business insider suggests you don't use your debit cards at:

  • Gas stations. because of skimming scams, and because stations put a hold on the card.
  • At hotels, because the desk may pre-authorize $400 dollars on your card.
  • On a rental car, where the rental firm may hold hundreds of dollars until you return the car.

"If that had been out of your checking account, that really could have hurt? It could have messed up my house payment, it could have messed up my utility payment."

Amazon says it's actually the bank, not them, that "reserves the funds until the transaction processes."

But Babin says she's going to use a credit card for the rest of her holiday shopping.

One last reason to not use a debit card for online shopping: if there is any error you have to fight to get your money back.