Credit or Debit? Which Should You Choose At The Pump?

Rob Poindexter

Updated 5 years ago

It’s a question many people ponder when they use their debit card to pay for gas. What’s the difference between selecting credit or debit? A Dexter couple found out the answer the hard way.When Jay Bradley opened his statement from the credit union this month he was a little taken aback. He discovered his wife Amy’s trip to get gas and groceries was a little more expensive than they had planned on. The problem started when Amy used the couple’s debit card to purchase gas at the pump. “The reason was because when she bought the $25 worth of gas at the Shell station they withheld $75 worth of money until it cleared or whatever,” says Bradley, “so when she went up to the Shop ‘n’ Save to use the card supposedly the money wasn’t there.”The credit union charged the Bradley’s a $20 fee for insufficient funds. Bradley says they returned the $20 fee but told him in the future he would have to pay the $20. Bradley says he’s still unsure who was holding his money. “The bank says the gas station is the one holding the money, the gas station says the bank is the one holding the money.”In fact it’s the banks that hold the funds for an average of 24 hours. The gas stations decide how much to charge for their preauthorization fee. A spokesman from C.N. Brown tells TV 5 that the amount they withhold is based on the current price of gas.Rebekah Higgins is the card services Assistant Vice President at the Maine Credit Union League says people who are a little tight on money should select the credit option at the pump. “Typically if you use your pin that pre-authorization amount is more than if you select credit,” she says. Bradley says in the future he’ll push the credit button but he thinks the gas stations should do a better job keeping customers informed. “Nowhere on these pumps does it say we are going to hold $75 for 30 minutes or 48 hours, which is what the bank told me,” says Bradley, “I know several people, especially with these times today, that may not have more than $75 in their account and then to get charged another $20 on top of not having much money it just seems ridiculous.”


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