Stretching Your Dollar: Using credit while on vacation

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - If you are traveling this summer and using a debit card to book reservations or pay for your rental car, be aware!

Many retailers are now doing what is called "Batching" and we're not talking about baking cookies.  They are "holds" on your account that is you are not careful could cause you to rack up overdraft fees.

Many companies will put a hold on your account for much more than the rooms cost or the rental car costs.  In hotels the room might be $100 a night, but the company puts a hold on your account for $500.

"This is in case you decide to use the mini-bar" according to Britt Scearce, credit counselor.

Many gas stations will only hold $1 as a hold, so therefore if you are going and checking your balance at the ATM machine, your available balance is only going to show the only dollar's been held," Scearce says.

So if you then choose to spend $5 at Starbucks thinking you still have that in your account, you could overdraw your account and start racking up overdraft fees.

Scearce has seen families spend as much as three hundred dollars on overdraft charges in one month because of poor book keeping.  He recommends using a regular credit card when you are traveling.  Because holds, can surprise you.

"Well that could be a real problem if you're using your actual debit card with your checking account because if you only had $500 in the account you're thinking, spend $200 on the hotel room and $300 to go play and have dinner, well you might not have that money available," according to Scearce.

His best advice is use a real credit card, and if you must use your debit card keep a very detailed account register.  If you forget to write down $150 dinner out, it could cost you hundreds in the long run.

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