Using an unmanned petrol pump might be a bad idea if you don't want $150 missing from your bank account for a few days.

Pumps such as those at Allied's Fuelstop in Levin automatically place a hold on your card for the hefty amount, which is then credited back once your transaction has been processed by the bank, however this can take three to four days, or even more if a weekend or public holiday gets in the way.

The hold applies to both credit and debit cards, the latter meaning your own money is actually made unavailable for a time, and is standard practice.

Allied's card services team member Nicki Burton said the hold was a pre-authorisation required by banks to ensure people didn't pump more fuel than they could pay for.

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"[The amount] pretty much covers any car," she said.
"As soon as the transaction goes through the bank releases it."

She said there were signs by the pumps informing people of the hold amount, and that Allied didn't have too many issues with New Zealand cardholders being caught unaware, but the system did cause more of a problem for overseas visitors who may not realise it would be applied.

Facebook posters in a local Levin group recently discussed the issue, raising concerns over bank fees that may be charged if the hold put a card into overdraft or exceeded its limit.

One commenter said he had been caught out by the pre-authorisation after trying to put $12 in his car, and the refund took a week to come back.

Other posters said they had had the amount returned in an hour.

Ms Burton said Allied had the ability to send forms through to the bank with information requesting an earlier refund, if they could see the transaction had gone through successfully. An 0800 number was listed on the pumps.

She recommended people who had less than $150 available in their bank accounts, or who would be seriously inconvenienced by the hold potentially taking several days to remove, were better off using staffed petrol stations.