Using your credit card to ride cross country? Get ready for a shock

Makingitwork6999

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When I would use my credit card to buy gas with my car, I might fill up once a day at a QT or RACETRAC or VALERO when driving across country. But on my NC700, I might fill up three times a day or even four. Yes, that is a lot of riding. And I sometimes fill up in the middle of nowhere at a family owned gas station. You never know what you are gonna get. It is like a box of chocolates.

I am on a budget. And the NC700 goes and goes and goes. Sooner or later, I gotta fill up.

Here is the shock. Sometimes the gas pump won't even start. My card is declined. I ride away to the next station. I get an e-mail on my phone for a charge for $75. Then another, then another, then another. Wow. Four of them over three days.

Sometimes the charge goes through and I pump the fuel. I get an e-mail for a $1 charge, an e-mail for the gas purchase itself, and a final e-mail for $99

Holy crap! What is going on here? Usually, it is just a buck or two.

Doing some online research, the issuing bank for the credit card, i.e. CHASED, CITIBLORP, AMERICAN DEPRESSED, CRIMINAL ONE, or WELLS FARGAIN, etc... They all hold a charge for up to three days. And... then release it before it hard-posts. What you see is that the largest charges simply vanish. In a way, this assures the issuing banks get paid while processing behind the scenes catches up to reality.

We have all heard it. It takes 2 seconds for them to take the money, and three days to put it back. These charges hold something called a "Pending" state before "Hard Post" which is when you get truly dinged. Three days later... they "Roll off" and disappear.

When you are on a motorbike... this can be very noticeable and painful if you have little money in your account. Your ATM card may say you only have $4 available... then may or may not tell you your fee is $5.... and then ask you if you want to withdraw the money anyway. So you are out on your bike, you are hungry, and you now have -$1 in your account.

Long ago, MATERCARD...heh heh... Dat dare is fuh...nee.... pushed for a 2 hour hold on such cash. No such luck. Your money is gone for three days. Pretty much. For me, that is a lot of moolah. If you watch your bank every 5 minutes like I do, I get itchy and phone them up and give them hell.

Do not hesitate to call your bank. Sometimes these glitchy charges do not roll off... and guess what? You just paid $100 for that little fill up.

There is something going on in the communications network. It seems to be failing in all sorts of ways. When it does, some computers retry. It is not some guy pressing a key repeatedly. I swear it isn't. But darnit, computers are dumb!

When you call your bank, do not use the word "fraud" because you will wind up losing your card immediately. I mean, instantly, and that person on the phone will tell your your card is inactive and it is now too late to undo that. Shortly after you stop screaming... you get a dial tone. You have 3 gallons of gas and no credit card.... and you are in the middle of nowhere. Wow. Be polite. Repeat the words... "Do not lock my card... do not freeze my card".

This is entirely the bank's fault. It really is. But you need to play it smart when it happens.
 

TacomaJD

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Never owned a credit card, never will; and never had any issues using my Visa Debit Regions Checkcard....well except for that one time where someone in Chicago (long way from where I live) apparently was trying to charge something against my debit card info...Regions caught it, called me and asked if I was in Chicago, I said no, they locked the card, and sent me a new one. I didn't lose any money, just had to go a couple days without a debit card until the new one came. But I thought that was some top notch service from Regions.
 

NWGABikeGuy

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Interesting, and something that never occurred to me. I know that most hotels put a "hold" on an amount on your card usually equal to the reservation, and then supposedly clear it after you check-out, NOT after you check-in. I have a high enough credit limit that this does not adversely effect me, but it is just one more opportunity for Murphy's Law to bite you. I have had bogus charges show-up on my card from multiple European and South American countries in the same day. Some folks tried to buy fork lifts and computers! So, consequently I have had to cancel and issue new cards several times. I would guess that cross-country travel merely multiplies the opportunities for crooks to steal your info and attempt fraudulent charges. I think I may consider a cash stash for fuel and convenience store purchases when I travel further afield. Being careful, of course, not to flash the cash to inquiring minds at the various venues that I may stop. With the almost instantaneous nature of transactions these days, there is no need for the credit card companies to hold these funds, It is just one more rip-off way that they have devised to scam the system and ride the float on billions of dollars daily.
 

bigbird

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I've driven from Canada to Florida many times, and never had an issue.
I use a TD Canadian issued US dollar credit card, so no exchange charges and no charges of any sort.
 

dduelin

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A version of this happened to me about 10 years ago. The bank's software noted my card was hundreds of miles from the usual location of use and declined a transaction. I called the number on the back of the card and in a few minutes the situation was resolved. A time or two after that I called prior to leaving home on a trip and noted to customer service my card would travel to XXX states over the next couple of days in order to prevent a recurrence. I haven't had to do this since and I ride typically to one of 8 SE USA states several times a year w/o issue.

Edit to add I don't use debit for transactions since skimmers inserted in or on gas pumps became so common. Use credit and these problems disappear.
 
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Makingitwork6999

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All very good useful and thoughtful posts. I am gearing up for another ride right now... and I am using a different card from now on. Yes. These charges I talked about are not fraud... but compound this with fraud and mis-key transactions and wow, you have a big problem.

I know all about mis-key transactions because someone gave me $5,000 on my AMEX 30 years ago. I tried to tell AMEX the money was not mine... but they ignored me. So I said... OK... cut me a check. Then... all of a sudden... there was this huge audit. And they found that some guy where I worked was 1 digit higher... as all these cards were part of some company traveller credit card introductory program. Someone manually entered the credit card number and fat-fingered it to credit my card $5,000.

Sometimes mis-keys happen in Europe... while I am in the USA... and those sometimes spin out of control. I have also had simple clothing purchases in Asia go funky and freeze up my card. Someone took an ambulance ride on my credit card in Amsterdam. Another fat-finger... and probably someone from my old employer.

Would my bank's super smart anti-fraud software catch any of this? Nah.....
 

davidc83

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Sounds more like a debit card than a credit card...certain debit card issuers does the exact thing (including Chase Debit card)....once the transaction is complete on both ends (24-48 hours) the $75 fee is removed. I use my credit card (Discover) over many states east of the Mississippi and never had that occur....it has occurred on my debit card, but after the first time, never used the debit card again for fuel purchases (use it exclusively for ATM withdrawals now).
 
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the Ferret

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I also ride all over the country and have never (knock on wood) had an issue like that on my credit cards, and I basically use my credit cards for everything on the road, gas, meals, hotels etc. When I do go more than 2 states away from home for an extended period of time, I call and tell them where I am going and when I'll be gone. I do get and keep all my receipts while traveling and match them with my statements, but so far there has never been an issue.
 

GregC

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Debit cards generally do not have the same fraud protection, and liability limits, as credit cards, so I think a debit card is a last resort. I almost never use a debit card (except to draw out cash from an ATM very infrequently), using my credit card for everything. I pay it off every month (so it's basically the same as a debit card), and I then get the cash back rewards without paying the company any interest or fees.
 

melensdad

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I've ridden all over by car and by bike. Not only nationally but across Canada. Never had an issue like described in the OP with my credit or debit cards.
 

MZ5

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I agree that this sounds like a debit card problem rather than a credit card problem. I have no use for debit cards precisely because the money is immediately gone, and you have to work to get it back if there's a mistake. With a credit card, the money is NOT gone until you pay the bill the following month.

All that said, I _have_ had a strange problem with QT in particular on my credit card. If (and ONLY if) I go inside the store and tell them to authorize a pump for $10, and give them my card, then if I don't use the full $10 I have had the problem where I still get a $10 charge on my card statement. The problem is that I have a receipt for that $10 charge, and another receipt from the pump for the amount I actually put into the tank, so it's difficult to explain to the card issuer how this is wrong. I've asked the QT clerks multiple times in multiple stores whether I'll get a refund if I don't spend the full $10, and they ALL assure me that I absolutely will, but my experience has been that it doesn't, or didn't, necessarily work that way.

None of that has anything to do with 'pre-authorizations' or $99 and $1 charges or anything. That nonsense is just that: nonsense that shouldn't happen in the first place. I've never had anything remotely like that occur with any of my credit cards, and I have or have had cards from all but one of the institutions listed in the OP.
 

Makingitwork6999

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Wow. So many thoughts from riders. I have a dual card. I use the credit side. Yes. I blame
My bank. Most cards should not do this.

I try not to think about it when I am riding. Or... leaving a golden offering to the fracking gods in a light wind.

What I am trying to do is one of two things... initiate a meeting over such policies or get them to issue me a credit card that does not behave this way.

Some companies offer cards with different service levels and pricing structures. And I do not want a wallet full of cards... one for each kinda thing I use it for. i.e. One for buying airline tickets, one for being abroad, one for local gas purchases, and one for the clothing store.

I have cut my life down to two cards. One is a points card, and the other linked to the bank. So far that has worked for 99% of my global travel. I never expected that once I started doing a lot of riding and filling-up, that this sort of thing would surface. The problem has always been there, but now... being way out there in "gas lands" has changed the vendors and how they process the payments. What a shocker. The one that really got me was that they were hitting my bank without ever pumping gas. All I had to do was swipe the card and hit cancel and ka-blammo!
 

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Makingitwork6999

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I agree that this sounds like a debit card problem rather than a credit card problem. I have no use for debit cards precisely because the money is immediately gone, and you have to work to get it back if there's a mistake. With a credit card, the money is NOT gone until you pay the bill the following month.

All that said, I _have_ had a strange problem with QT in particular on my credit card. If (and ONLY if) I go inside the store and tell them to authorize a pump for $10, and give them my card, then if I don't use the full $10 I have had the problem where I still get a $10 charge on my card statement. The problem is that I have a receipt for that $10 charge, and another receipt from the pump for the amount I actually put into the tank, so it's difficult to explain to the card issuer how this is wrong. I've asked the QT clerks multiple times in multiple stores whether I'll get a refund if I don't spend the full $10, and they ALL assure me that I absolutely will, but my experience has been that it doesn't, or didn't, necessarily work that way.

None of that has anything to do with 'pre-authorizations' or $99 and $1 charges or anything. That nonsense is just that: nonsense that shouldn't happen in the first place. I've never had anything remotely like that occur with any of my credit cards, and I have or have had cards from all but one of the institutions listed in the OP.
There are a lot of inexplicable purchase situations like this QT problem you describe. Since the USA has no functioning consumer agency, this is what we get.

CVS does something similar with a 30 day prescribed medication where you have a 90% discount coupon that only allows a 20 day refill. If you come in on the wrong day in the renewal window and do a refill, you get screwed. You pay full price for 1/3 the drugs. Then you need a refund later.

Eventually your monthly pickups get out of cycle with your refill requirement dates. Your coupon has a date. And your insurance has a date which is supposed to match the doctor’s date.

It is a mess. I think only I really get it.... and I cannot explain it to anyone without confusing them. I need to keep track of when i refill and when i pick up. It needs to be 30 days out or the pharmacist denies the refill or does a partial refill... messing up all the next refill dates and coupon 20 day window again. Do the people behind the counter understand it? Nah.
 

Makingitwork6999

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The more people comment, the more it confirms my bank is the cause. It is not Visa nor MasterCard. There must be some sort of partnered pass-through agreement. Not much different than overpriced hospital charges or the anesthesiologist who gives you a $20 sleepy drug for... hmmm. $5000. And everybody gets paid one way or another.

There is more than one way in this country to make a kickback work. All you need is a complex partnership.

Anyone out there work in the Contracts department for a credit card company?
 

670cc

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Traveling and relying on credit cards for fuel purchases has never been a problem for me in the USA or Canada.
 
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MZ5

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Since the USA has no functioning consumer agency, this is what we get.

This is a state function, and every state has functioning consumer protection groups according to their consumer protection laws.
 

the Ferret

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The more people comment, the more it confirms my bank is the cause. It is not Visa nor MasterCard.
Why don't you simply get a Master card or Visa card from another bank? I'd venture to say that is what the majority of us use that don't have issues using our cards. Get a credit card and not a debit card. A credit card has more protection, and the funds are not taken out of your bank acct immediately. You use their money all month for free. Just don't buy anything on the card you know you can't pay off when the bill comes. You have to be fiscally responsible enough to pay off your credit card bill each month (on time) so as not to incur late fees and interest. If you can't do that, do without whatever it is you wanted to buy until you can afford to pay for it.
 
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