An authorization hold, also known as a “block,” is placed on available credit (on credit cards) or available funds (on debit and prepaid cards) for certain types of transactions where the final amount of the sale is not yet known. A hold or block essentially reserves credit or money to ensure that it will be there when the transaction is finalized. For example, if you swipe your card at a gas pump, the station might put a hold on, say, $75. If you only pump $30 worth of gas, the hold would eventually “fall off” and you would again have access to the unspent $45.
Because the hold time can last from one to eight business days for a debit card transaction and up to 30 days for credit cards (though many, if not most, drop off much faster than that), it’s important to be aware of when a hold is likely to be placed (common for gas purchases and for things like auto and hotel rentals). To avoid being caught short, you could pay cash for certain purchases, put more money onto your prepaid card or into your checking account (debit card), pay down your credit card balance or ask for a credit limit increase.
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