Credit Card Holds: Facts That You Might Not Know

If you have a credit card, chances are that, at some point, you will encounter a hold on your payment. Merchants in sectors like hotels and car rental firms utilize what are known as authorization holds on credit cards. Most credit card holds get resolved within 48 hours. However, if the hold persists, you may need to ask your credit card issuer.

Put a Hold on Your Account

Credit card holds allow merchants to make sure they receive payment for goods and services sold. But what is a credit card hold? Typically, a hold locks money or credit in a cardholder’s account and prevents them from spending that amount elsewhere. While these hold offer several benefits for some merchants, they can also be risky for some consumers. Knowing how they work and how long a hold lasts is essential if you use a credit card for a significant purchase. The time it takes for a credit card hold to clear depends on several factors, including the type of card used (credit or debit), whether it was PIN-enabled or signed, and the bank or credit union that issued the card. Credit card holds can also vary by the day of the week and between different types of merchants. For instance, gas stations commonly use authorization holds to ensure the cardholder has enough funds to fill a fuel tank.

Another reason credit card issuers can place a hold on a card is to prevent consumers from exceeding their credit limit or making late payments. These holds usually last for two days or more; most get resolved if the consumer makes a sufficient payment toward their balance. To avoid a credit card hold, keep tabs on your balance and credit limit, and consider setting up spending alerts to give you a warning if you’re nearing your limit.

Place an Authorization Hold

Credit card authorization holds temporarily freezes funds or available credit in a consumer’s account. They are used to prevent a consumer from spending the money before they settle a transaction, or the merchant receives payment. These types of holds are helpful for many merchants. They help ensure that a cardholder has the promised funds when their transaction settles, and they reduce the risk of chargebacks and other problems associated with disputes. However, credit card authorization holds have their issues. Customers might not be aware of the length of a hold’s validity, for instance, and would thus be able to utilize the funds once they lift the hold. They can also find them inconvenient to deal with if they are using a card for multiple transactions.

In addition to that, some cardholders will contact their bank instead of the merchant if they see a suspicious charge on their statement. If this occurs, the card issuer disputes the transaction, and the merchant loses the funds. Card networks set regulations that balance the time it takes for a transaction to settle with how long a consumer is willing to have their money tied up. For example, some cards are only eligible for a maximum of 48-72 hours of hold time before the card issuer will replace it with a debit to the account.

Place an Administrative Hold

Administrative holds are an ordinary and necessary tool in some situations. They pause a transaction until there is a final total or it aligns with the sales cycle, and they give the processor time to review a case carefully. They can help prevent chargebacks, which are expensive for all parties. However, using holds requires accurate record tracking and approvals, and mistakes often lead to delays, unhappy customers, and potential fines or bank chargebacks. The most common type of hold is an administrative one, which prevents the card issuer from allowing you to spend more than your credit limit. This hold usually lasts until you pay down your card to bring it below your limit. Alternatively, the credit card issuer can also place a fraud protection hold on your account. Another type of hold is an authorization hold, which is an amount that the card issuer has set aside on your account ahead of time. This type of hold does not affect your credit limit and will appear as a pending transaction on your statement. In addition, you can also request a higher credit limit from the card issuer.

Place a Hold on Your Payment

Credit card issuers can place a hold on your payment to ensure enough funds are in the account to complete a transaction. It is essential for high-value trades, such as hotel stays, rental car rentals, and cruises. A hold ensures the cardholder has money in the account when the merchant processes the transaction, which reduces the risk of disputed chargebacks. It also allows the merchant to settle the transaction within the allowed time frame, which helps avoid Visa and MasterCard “misuse fees.” There are two types of credit card holds: authorization and administrative. An authorization hold is temporary and lasts until the merchant confirms enough money is in the account to complete the transaction. This type of hold usually lasts 24 to 48 hours. An administrative hold is more severe and can prevent a consumer from using their credit card, even if the cardholder has enough available credit. This hold typically lasts until the cardholder pays their debt and regains credit card use.

In addition to administrative and authorization credit card holds, merchants can face other charges based on how they handle their transactions. For example, if you have an authorized transaction that fails to clear, you could be hit with a merchandise-not-received chargeback. To avoid these problems, ensure your business handles authorizations correctly and settles them promptly.