"I only needed to top off, so I bought just a couple gallons of gasoline, left, and didn't think much of my $12 purchase.
After looking at my credit card transactions online later that afternoon I learned that the travel center in question put a massive $151 hold on my credit card- all for $12 in gasoline."
Turns out it wasn't a glitch. A call to the gas station's parent company revealed the onus was on his credit card issuer, Visa.
The reason behind the charge was two-fold. For one, Visa hiked up the maximum fuel charge from $75 to $150 (anything over that will turn the pump off), possibly to keep up with rising gas costs. The preauthorization charge was apparently inflated to match.
Secondly, since credit card companies are now required to approve gas station transactions within a few hours, they are likely willing to charge more. In most cases, the charge will clear long before the customer even notices.
The only way to dodge these annoying charges? Use your debit card, for one, or prepay inside the station. At any rate, be sure you've got enough balance available to leave yourself a cushion in case you need to use your card after leaving the pump.
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