Debit card holds are a hardship for many consumers who lose access to funds or overdraft their accounts unexpectedly. Debit card holds are sometimes placed onto cards without notice, and the consumer is left at risk and often without recourse. Understanding the process of a hold and how to get it removed can save you time and eliminate any further charges or fees.
First Things First
Call your debit card company as soon as you notice that a hold has not been released, or a hold that you did not expect has been applied to your account. Your card company can be reached at the number on the back of your debit card. Notify the representative that your account has a hold that you wish to be removed. Although the card company cannot remove the hold without authorization from the billing merchant, they will make a note on your account that the amount is disputed.
Contact the Merchant
Next, you can contact the merchant who placed the hold on your account. Notify him that your account is being tied up by the process and that you would like the hold removed ASAP. Most merchants have a standard release policy that takes from one to fifteen business days, but in some cases they may make exceptions and release funds early for the benefit of the customer.
Go to Your Bank
Visit the bank branch where you opened your account and received your debit card. Inform a representative that a hold has been placed on your account and that you wish it to be removed. The branch may contact the merchant who placed the hold on your behalf to have it removed. Some cards, including MasterCard, now require merchants to release gas station holds within 24 hours, and will be happy to enforce that policy at your request.
Instead of using your debit card for purchases like hotel stays or rental cars, consider using a prepaid credit card. Prepaid cards do not allow access to your bank accounts, and any holds placed will affect only the funds you have chosen to dedicate to the card account. Prepaid credit cards also come with many of the same features and benefits of standard credit cards including, 24-hour assistance with false charges and questionable holds.
Hotels, gas stations and other businesses may place holds on your debit card account without ever notifying you that they are doing so. To avoid unexpected holds, and the havoc they can play with your account balance, use credit cards for room and car reservations, or ask ahead of time so you know what to expect.