How to Overdraft Your Debit Card at the Gas Pump: Try This Simple Hack

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30-SECOND SUMMARY: There is a “loophole” in debit card purchase authorizations that may let you fill your tank on an empty bank account. Read on to learn this trick and you may be able to pay for gas on your debit card even if your bank doesn’t offer overdrafts.

Did you know you might be able to pay for gas with your debit card even when your checking account is empty?

That means you can drive away with a full tank of gas, even if you’ve only got $0.50 in your account, and pay back the outstanding amount on your next payday.

This can be a convenient way to overdraft your bank account at the gas station, though there may be some potential fees or pitfalls to watch out for.

Here’s how you can pull off this sneaky hack.

Can I get gas with no money on my debit card?

In theory, yes.

When you use your debit card to pay for things like gas, the gas station doesn’t know how much it will need to charge your card. 

Are you going to put $10 of gas into your car or $100? 

You might be driving across town. Or, you might be driving across the country. 

Who knows (the gas station certainly doesn’t).

To ensure that there are sufficient funds in your bank account to cover your fill-up, the gas station places a temporary debit card hold on your account until the transaction is completed and the merchant has been paid.

Why would a gas station put a hold on my debit card?

The pre-authorization hold protects the gas  station from fraud. 

Depending on your bank or credit card company, processing the pre-authorization can take a few hours or even a few days if you’re pumping gas around a holiday.

Many gas stations used to hold $1, so that they could establish you had a positive balance in your bank account.

However, with the price of gas soaring to record highs and $100+ tanks of gas sadly becoming commonplace, most gas stations have significantly increased the amount that they put on hold. 

Visa and Mastercard recently increased the amount that gas stations can put on hold to $175.

This means, even if you only bought a few gallons of gas you may have up to $175 of your funds unavailable to you until the hold is released!

It’s worth noting that gas stations and other retailers establish their own hold amounts, so you may be able to use this loophole depending on your local gas station’s pre-authorization limits.

Since pre-authorization holds can range from $1 to $100 (or more) this “Buy Gas With Your Debit Card” trick will likely only work if the pre-authorization hold is lower than the amount of gas you’re pumping.

There are two take-aways here:

1). Be aware of pre-authorizations if your bank account is low and you don’t want to end up in the red and hit with potential fees.

2). Use this pre-authorization feature to your advantage and willingly go into the red to fill your gas tank.

man filling gas tank at gas station

How you can use gas station debit card holds in your favor

Alright, quick recap…

Depending on the gas station, when you insert a debit card for payment it will run a preliminary monitory authorization to your bank to approve the funds before it allows you to pump.

The catch?

The amount you are allowed to pump isn’t dependent on how much your bank approves. It’s dependent on how much your car’s tank holds. 

Just fill up your truck or car with the gas you need by overdrawing your debit card on purpose then pay back the overdrawn amount when you get paid.

As long as you get your account topped off before the charge hits you may be able to avoid overdraft fees.

Gas station authorizations were typically $1.00 but can be as high as $250 these days. 

So if you have only a few bucks in your account this hack works. But if the gas station’s authorization is in excess of what you have in your account, this loophole will be closed.

🤓Overdraft Apps Tip: Each gas station and merchant is different. This trick won’t work at the gas station counter because the EFTPOS machine will charge the bank whatever amount you say you want to pump. This only has the potential to work at the pump itself.
gas prices america

Overdrawing at the gas pump: An example

  • You have $3.75 available on your debit card and you don’t get paid for a week.
  • You need to fill up your tank so you go to the gas station, insert your card and get charged a $1 authorization.
  • You pump $50 worth of gas. You had $3.75 to your name and got $50 worth of gas.
  • The gas station will charge your card the full amount somewhere between a few minutes and a few days later (they’ve only charged a $1 authorization so far).
  • Since the transaction is already approved and your gas tank is already full, your bank will allow it to go through even if you don’t have overdraft facilities.
  • Once you get paid, the negative balance is cleared and you keep driving around with your tank full.
gas tank pumps

What are the downsides of overdrafting at the gas pump?

A $30 dollar gas tank fill-up can quickly become a $60 charge if overdraft fees hit. 

This can make things worse if you’re already struggling financially.

However, if you’re in a serious cash crunch and absolutely, positively have to fill your tank to get to work or live your life, this hack can help you get on the road when your bank balance is close to zero.

Remember, an overdraft fee is the same whether you go $0.10 or $100 over. 

If you know you’re going to cop the overdraft fee you might consider filling your tank to the brim to avoid ending up at a gas station again a few days later and copping another fee. 

It’s worth pointing out again, between rising gas prices and this trick becoming more widely known, many gas stations now have a large authorization limit. 

Most of the time this isn’t an issue with credit cards (because preauthorization only requests available credit with credit cards, which is either a “yes” or a “no”).

But with your debit card, this will place a hold on your funds, whether you get gas or not. 

Depending on the batch times of the gas station, it can take 24 hours for this hold to be released which can leave you without any funds at all.

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30-Second Summary

You can try using the loophole in debit card purchase authorizations to fill your gas tank when your checking account is empty.

Be aware that your account will be overdrawn with a negative balance if you don’t have any money available to cover the transaction. You may receive an overdraft fee from your bank.

Depending on how bad you need gas, an overdraft fee might be worth it.

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