Visa explains why drivers are being charged £99 at some petrol stations

A CONTROVERSIAL move which could see a £99 “hold” added to your card at some supermarket petrol stations has been explained by Visa.

The card-issuer responsible for millions of debit and credit cards across the globe has explained why some retailers are placing the hold on purchases.

It comes as Tesco confirmed on its website that drivers could see as much as £99 placed on their card when using some pay at pump facilities at its petrol stations.

Tesco, which has a number of petrol stations across the country, said the £1 pre-authorisation amount is set be replaced due to rules from card-issuers.

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It said the rules had been updated by American Express, Mastercard and Visa to help cardholders keep “control” of their budgets in real time.

It is understood a number of other supermarket retailers including Sainsbury’s are also implenting the hold within the next few weeks.

However, Visa themselves have explained why the hold has been added and what it means for drivers with fewer than £100 in their account when they fill up.

It is however, important to note that not every supermarket which offers the pay at pump option has revealed plans to hold £100 – meaning some may continue as normal.

Why the hold has been introduced

Visa has said that the use of a “pre-check” system will help people manage their budgets and ensure they have enough funds to cover the actual cost of the fuel. 

It said that, in the past when drivers use a self-serve pump, the exact cost of fuel taken would only show up on your account balance around one to two days later.

It claims that made it hard for customers to track their daily spend, meaning customers who forgot they had paid for fuel could potentially become overdrawn.

It says that from the moment a card is used at a self-serve pump, where up to £100 can be taken, an amount will now be temporarily reserved to check there are “sufficient funds” to cover the cost of the fuel once that is charged a few days later.

What if I don’t have £100 in my account

Visa says that the fuel pump should communicate with your bank to ensure the correct hold amount is taken.

It says that if someone’s account balance or available credit is around £50, then the fuel pump should automatically “cut out” once you have reached the approved amount.

It has said this is called a “partial authorisation” and says it ensures customers can still get the fuel they need. 

But it does mean that if you have an account balance of more than £100, it is likely that the full £100 – or £99 in Tesco’s case – could still be taken regardless of your spend.

What Tesco has said

In a statement on its website, Tesco said that any hold should be removed from the card instantly, before the actual transaction amount is taken.

It said: “Under new rules implemented by Mastercard, Visa and American Express, we must now request authorisation from your card issuer for up to £99.

“Once you’ve finished filling up, the final transaction amount is sent to your card issuer, and the remainder of any unused funds up to the maximum filling amount will be released back to your available balance.”

‘You’ll only be charged for the amount of petrol you’ve bought’

A spokesperson for Visa said: “The way you pay for fuel at self-service pumps has been changing. 

“When you insert or tap your card at a self-service pump, your bank will now temporarily reserve an amount from your available balance while you fill up.

“This could be up to £100 (a standard tank of petrol). 

“Once you’ve finished filling up, this will be updated and you’ll only be charged for the amount of petrol you bought.  

“This should happen almost instantly but occasionally it may take a little longer. If this is the case, please contact your bank.”   

Visa has said that the pre-check or hold should be on someone’s account for a few minutes at the most.

But the move has proved controversial…

Drivers this week hit back at Tesco with some raising concern over whether the charge is necessary and fair.

On social media, the chain received significant backlash as some have already suggested the plan “will never work” due to the amount required.  

One person, who said he spends a maximum of £16 fuelling up his motorcycle, feared his card would eventually be declined by the time he reaches the end of the month.

He said: “It costs me £16 max to fill up my bike but hold £99. When there’s too much month at the end of the money, they’re going to decline my card.

“The pay at pump only stations – are going to have a lot of unhappy people.”

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