WTOL contributing consumer correspondent John Matarese looks into this new trend that has some people unknowingly bouncing checks.
Viewers often ask me if there's really much difference between a debit card and a credit card besides the fact that a credit card sends you a bill and a debit card takes the money now.
Yes, there is another difference --- concerning your gas tank --- and it can be an expensive difference.
Lindsey Grey recently needed gas for her car. Since she had her daughter with her, she decided to just swipe at the pump and not go in to pay cash. With 75 dollars in her account, she bought 10 bucks worth of gas, and assumed she was fine.
But Grey explains, "A couple of days later, I checked my account to see what I had available. I realized I had bounced a couple of things. I was hit with some 27 dollar fees that shouldn't have happened."
Why the overdraft fees? Grey says, "The gas station put $50 on hold on my account. When I had only spent $10. So by holding the $50, other things were bouncing."
U.S. PIRG says more and more gas stations will place a 50 dollar "hold" on your account if you swipe a debit card at the pump. They do it to make sure you can pay for your fill-up.
But PIRG says the bank may not unfreeze the money for 2 to 3 days, which can lead to bounced checks.
Lindsey paid almost $100 for $10 worth of gas, and she says she'll never do that again.
So don't let this happen to you. Consumer reporter John Matarese says, "I'd make sure I had 100 dollars in my checking account before using a debit card for gas these days."
Otherwise use credit, or pay with cold hard cash so you don't waste your money.