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Warning issued over using debit cards for online shopping

Posted at 4:58 AM, Dec 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-14 04:58:28-05

(WXYZ) — Scrambling to get that holiday shopping done? We have a caution before you pull out a debit card, as it can be risky this time of the year.

Patricia Babin found a great deal on Amazon – grabbing a 55-inch HDTV for just $283, but it appeared that either Amazon or her bank grabbed her money twice.

"it looked like at first a double charge," she said.

It turned out to be a preauthorization hold for the TV's cost, which left her card down more than $600.

"I expected the pre-authorization to drop off. But it did not, she said.

So, Babin called and learned authorization charges on debit cards can take several days to be returned. It can take 3-5 business days.

This is a common problem for people who use debit cars, and it's not just limited to Amazon. It happens at other retailers, especially at gas stations.

Last year, Shari Renfro pumped $47 worth of gas, but her debit card was hit with a $125 hold.

"There was no money on it, when I knew there was money on it," Renfro said.

Business Insider suggests you don't use debit cards at these locations:

  • Gas stations – Due to skimming scams, and because of the hold
  • Hotels – The desk may pre-authorize $400 on your card
  • Rental cars – Rental firm may hold hundreds of dollars until you return the car.

One last reason to not use a debit card online, if there is an error that you have to fight to get your money back, you'll almost always get a better result dealing with a credit card company.