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What is an authorization hold?

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 it can take anywhere from a day to a week or more for a hold to fall off your account, 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 on to 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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