Using a debit card is like paying with a check; only the money comes immediately out of your bank account electronically. If there isn’t enough money in your account to cover the debit, your bank may still honor the charge, but will probably add costly overdraft fees.
In some debit transactions, consumers may find more money initially charged against their accounts than they expected. This is a legal business practice called “blocking,” but it is still important for consumers to be aware of this to avoid overdrawing bank accounts.
Blocking most often occurs when you check into a hotel, rent a car, or pump gas. Even though your hotel stay or rental contract is just beginning, your debit card company will often block off the entire estimated total, and sometimes more, from your account when your card is initially swiped. For instance, if you are spending three nights at a hotel that charges $100 a night, at least $300 will likely be blocked on your account when you check in. The actual amount may be raised even higher to include possible incidental charges. If your account balance is low, this can cause problems.
Before using your card, ask the amount that will be blocked, what determines that amount, and how long the block will remain on your card. If the block would cause on overdraft or reduce your account balance so as to risk future overdrafts, consider using another form of payment.
When it comes to your debit card, we’ve got your back, Arkansas.
The Consumer Protection Division of the Arkansas Attorney General's Office is here to help you obtain a successful resolution to your consumer complaints.