Major changes coming to petrol stations will see £100 ‘reserved’

Sainsbury's announces ban that will affect all of its petrol stations

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Payment companies Mastercard and Visa have updated their policies, and are making a major change to how motorists pay for fuel at self-service pumps. The change would see retailers and supermarket filling stations temporarily charge a customer’s debit or credit card up to £100, then, after taking payment for fuel purchased, release any unspent funds.

Some drivers have already reported seeing the changes being implemented at filling stations near them.

The new payment scheme, which has been trialled at dozens of petrol stations over the last few months, is set to be rolled out to every petrol station in the UK. 

Visa said it had decided to bring in the change to help people “keep an eye on [their] finances” and Mastercard appears to have followed suit.

One driver, Mark Fuller, filled his car at a Sainsbury’s petrol station in Plymouth, but when he checked his online banking, he was surprised to find a different cost.

The driver said he had pumped £70’s worth of fuel into his car, even though £100 had been drawn out of his account.

This is a change from a £1 pre-authorisation taken from customers’ accounts to confirm that their card was valid before they filled up.

According to Money Saving Expert, if a driver has more than £100 available in their account then £100 will be reserved on their card when they pay at the pump.

The account is only billed for the amount spent and the rest is returned, although this can take some time.

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Unused reserved funds never leave their account but they temporarily come off the available balance.

They should revert back within minutes if the system works correctly but some social media users have reported waiting up to five days.

Until funds are returned it can leave some people unable to pay bills if close to their limit.

A statement on the Visa website states that the way people pay for fuel at self-service pumps is changing, allowing people “to keep an eye on” their finances.

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It adds: “Working with retailers and our payments partners, we are improving the experience at petrol forecourts across the UK.

“In the past, when you used a self-service pump to buy fuel, the exact cost would only show up against your account balance one or two days after you filled up.

“Soon, the way you pay for fuel at self-service pumps will change. When you insert or tap your card at a self-service pump, your bank will temporarily reserve an amount from your available balance while you fill up. 

“This could be up to £100. But not to worry, once you’ve finished filling up, this will be updated to your bank and you’ll only be charged for the amount you’ve spent.”

Currently, unleaded petrol prices are expected to continue to fall, with drivers seeing average prices of around 167.22p per litre.

Diesel drivers, on the other hand, are seeing much slower decreases with prices still high at 182.49p.

The RAC states that there are “no changes forecast” for the price of diesel.

Even super unleaded and other premium fuels can be found cheaper than diesel, with RAC Fuel Watch showing prices to be around 180p for a litre of fuel.

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