PETROL stations have started issuing £99 earmarked checks to see if drivers have enough funds to pay for a full fuel tank thanks to new policies by Visa and Mastercard.
But supermarkets are claiming they never actually get the huge sum – so what does it really do?
What is the £99 earmarked fee for paying at the pump?
When buying pay at the pump petrol you have to put your chip and PIN in first before the fuel is dispensed.
A “pre-authorisation” check takes place – this takes money from your account which is essentially put aside to pay for your petrol or diesel once you have finished.
Since the scheme first started most supermarkets would only charge £1 to your account to check for funds, and that money would be refunded once the transaction went through.
In fact, Tesco still runs their pay at pump system with the £1 charge.
But, thanks to new rules from Mastercard and Visa other petrol stations such as Asda and Sainsbury’s are starting to use a much larger figure.
Asda is trialling the figure at £99 in a handful of stores before a wider roll out – which shocked driver Jade Louise when she saw the figure on her account statement after filling up her motor.
Jade slammed the store for the fee which left her £99 down for 2-3 days and other drivers have vowed to boycott the store for petrol after seeing her post.
Similarly, Sainsbury’s can charge an earmarked fee from £1 to £99 depending on how much drivers have in their account.
Do I get the money back?
The supermarkets say that they don’t get the money from the earmarked fee.
Mastercard argue that the higher charge has been introduced to make sure drivers can’t buy more fuel than they can afford.
They added that if drivers don’t have the required fund to meet the high figure, then petrol stations can check exactly what funds the customer has available and then dispense a lower value of fuel.
Mastercard said: “While some customers may see a request for a higher amount than the fuel they bought – perhaps on their mobile banking app – these funds are not taken from their account.
“Only the value of the petrol dispensed is withdrawn.”
This means the earmarked charge amount goes back into your account once the payment for the petrol has been processed.
Do I need an overdraft to use pay at pump?
Some banks have taken to blocking transactions at pay at pump petrol stations for basic account holders – which covers anyone who doesn’t have an overdraft.
However, the block isn’t enforced by all banks and most that do enforce it only do so for petrol stations that haven’t been updated to follow Visa and Mastercard’s new guidelines.
According to moneysavingexpert.com Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds, Natwest, RBS, Nationwide and Bank of Scotland all block transactions at pumps which don’t use the higher earmarked charge, if you don’t have an overdraft facility.
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If you bank with Barclays, Co-op or Nationwide you shouldn’t have a problem dispensing your fuel at the pump – whether you have an overdraft facility or not.
The banks say the block is to stop basic account holders spending money they don’t have – in Santander’s case basic account holders can’t buy fuel at any pay at pump stations say moneysavingexpert.com.
If your account doesn’t have an overdraft the best way to pay for your petrol is to go in and pay at the kiosk as they don’t have earmarked charges.