Use Prepaid Card for This not That while Christmas Shopping

Dec 08, 2011 – Have you bought all of your Christmas gifts yet? If so, you are probably far ahead of many shoppers this holiday season. If you haven’t, there are only a couple of weeks left until the big day, so you better get crackin’. If you have set up and loaded your prepaid debit card and placed yourself on a strict budget this year, then good for you! When you are out spending your hard-earned holiday budget, you will need to pay close attention for a little something called Authorization Hold.

As you forage through the malls for that perfect gift for Aunt Jenny, you should consider additional expenditures that will arise like filing up your car with gas or eating out at a restaurant. And if you’re traveling cross country to be with family, you might stay in a hotel or possibly rent a car. Prepaid cards are excellent forms of payment for most merchants and service providers because Visa, Discover, MasterCard and American Express are widely accepted almost anywhere you go. Whether you use a prepaid card or a credit card, you need to know businesses might put an Authorization Hold on the card.

Using your prepaid balance to buy gifts at merchants or online is a no-brainer, but say you meet your friend Sally at your favorite restaurant for a much needed break. Be aware that the restaurant could put an Authorization Hold on your card in excess of the amount owed. The wait person runs your card previous to you adding in a gratuity and the restaurant “holds” the additional funds until the card company reconciles the transaction. Usually, this happens instantaneously, but there are cases where your balance could take a hit for some time. The same can happen at a gas station while you fill up your car with an unknown amount of fuel. You might really notice the inconvenience of this practice on large ticket items like a hotel room or a rental car. So, make sure you have plenty of funds loaded on your Prepaid Visa or Prepaid MasterCard to cover extra days in the hotel or with a rental car.

As I stated above, Authorization Hold will occur on prepaid and credit cards alike, so if you are near the edge on your credit limit or a $0 prepaid balance, be cautious of the dreaded “card declined” and maybe use your cards primarily for merchant purchases..

Tracy Jones is a content contributor for, which provides information about prepaid products, including the UPside Visa prepaid debit card.

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