How the new system works
The practice, which has been implemented by payment providers American Express, Mastercard and Visa, was already in place at many major forecourt ‘pay-at-pump’ services, such as those run by BP and Esso.
But this is now being rolled out to major supermarkets. About 60 Sainsbury’s pay-at-pump sites have already adopted it, while Tesco has rolled it out as part of a pilot at a small number of its sites. Asda has also now rolled out the change to one of its forecourts and we’re checking if more will follow. Morrisons had previously told us it planned to roll out the change too – we’ve asked for its latest position and we’ll update this story when we know more.
Here’s how it works for those paying at pumps that employ this system – you should be informed at the pump if this is going to happen:
- If you have £100+ available then £100 will be reserved on your card when you pay at the pump. However, your account is only billed for the amount spent and the rest is returned (though that return can take some time). Unused reserved funds never leave your account but they temporarily come off your available balance. They should revert back within minutes if the system works correctly but we’ve seen reports on social media of people waiting up to five days.
Until funds are returned it can leave some people unable to pay bills if close to their limit. In addition, if you don’t have funds available to pay those bills you may get charged by the other provider, for example, a mobile or mortgage firm expecting payment. Some Twitter users have raised concerns about being unable to afford bills, for example: