This is how the new system works
The new system, which was spearheaded by the payment providers Mastercard and Visa, is already in use at independent petrol station payment services, but is now also being rolled out in large supermarkets. Around 60 Sainsburys Pay-at-Pump locations across the UK have already rolled it out, while Asda, Morrisons and Tesco are planning to do the same.
Here’s how it works for those who pay with debit and credit cards from Mastercard or Visa (we’re checking if American Express holders are also affected and will update this story when we know more):
- If your account or credit card is over £ 100 it will be reserved when you pay at the pump, although the amount actually spent will then be debited from your account and the rest will be refunded. Unused reserved funds will never leave your account, but this temporary freeze will affect your available balance. It should go back immediately – although in some cases it may take longer.
- If your account or credit card is below £ 100, your available account or card balance will be reserved. Again, you will be billed for the amount actually used with the rest of the money returned. The pump switches off automatically as soon as you have reached your available balance, which means that you should not, for example, exceed your spending limit or push into a disordered overdraft.
- If you don’t have money in your account, you may not be able to buy fuel. For example, whether you can pay for fuel using a current account credit depends on the type of account you have; some do not allow you to be overdrawn, while others do so with arranged overdrafts. If there is no overdraft and there is no balance, your card will be declined.
The system was first tested by Visa when paying at pump services in 2016 and later introduced by Asda in 2018. But Asda then ditched the system after some people found it took days for payments to get back to their account. Both Visa and Mastercard say these issues have now been resolved, although we’ve seen reports from buyers claiming they recently experienced a delay in getting their assigned cash back.
For payments to dispensers that have not yet been upgraded to the new system, a “pre-authorization fee” of £ 1 will be deducted from your account to confirm your card is active before you top up. The exact fuel cost will usually appear in your account a day or two after the transaction and the £ 1 fee will be refunded.