If you regularly use prepaid debit cards, you may have been surprised to find some of your funds tied up because of a “hold” placed on your account. This is usually the result of renting hotel rooms, cars, or purchasing gas.
A “hold” may be placed on a prepaid debit card account to ensure that sufficient funds remain in the account to cover the cost of a transaction.
What Is a "Hold" on My Prepaid Debit Card?
When you make a purchase, sometimes the merchant will make an estimate of the purchase amount to make sure you have enough funds in your Account to cover the charge, such as when you swipe your card to buy gas. We put that amount "on hold" until the transaction is complete. At that time we'll release the on hold amount back into your Account and deduct the final charge. We’ll typically release these funds no later than 8 days after the transaction (or no later than 30 days after the transaction for transactions with rental car agencies, hotels, and similar merchants). If a transaction looks incorrect, please wait until it is labeled "completed" before contacting us to dispute it, as the amount can still change.
Learn How to Avoid Purchase Holds Early
Using your debit card for gas at the pump – Pay Inside
Since prepaid cards are not credit cards, you must have sufficient funds in your card account in order to make a purchase. Unless you specify the exact dollar amount of your gasoline purchase, a hold may be placed on your account (up to $126) to ensure that you have sufficient funds for the gas.
For example, if the hold amount is $126 and you only spend $40 on gas, you will not be able to access the remaining $86 until the transaction is complete.
A good solution is to pay the cashier inside. For example, ask for “$40 on pump one.” In doing so, the dollar amount is predetermined and the hold is not necessary. We recommend that you pay inside and avoid holds.
Using your debit card to reserve a hotel – Call ahead
When using a debit card to pay for a hotel room, it is not uncommon for a hold to be placed on the card. When you check in, a hold may be placed on your card account up to an additional 20% of the room amount.
For example, if you pay $100 for a room, up to $120 could be held on your account. Hotels may place a separate hold for incidentals, so it’s advisable to call the hotel prior to your stay for their specific procedures.
These holds are released once the transaction is finalized and verified, which can take up to 10 business days.
Using your debit card to pay for a car rental – Call ahead
You can use your debit card at car rental agencies that accept prepaid cards. You can expect a hold of up to 15 percent of the rental car cost. We recommend that you call the car rental agency to inquire about the length of a typical authorization hold. Generally, these can last up to 30 business days.
How Can I Release a Hold on My Prepaid Account?
Holds automatically drop off, so you do not need to do anything.
If you want to release a hold early, or believe that there is an unauthorized hold on your account, have the merchant contact the prepaid card company. The merchant must then send a letterhead fax of the purchase including the following information:
- Customer name
- Card number
- Transaction amounts and dates
- Merchant contact information
- Verification that the transactions were voided
Once the information is verified, the card company should notify you by phone, email, or SMS Alert (if available) and release the hold.