Whether or not you are allowed to overdraft at a gas station will be determined by your agreement with your bank, rather than by the gas station’s payment policies. Overdrafting typically comes with steep fees and should be avoided when possible. For more details of how overdrafts work and what your bank’s policy might include, see below.
Information on Gas Stations That Let You Overdraft
There is no way to generate a list of gas stations that let you overdraft because the approval of your transaction will vary greatly depending on your bank. Representatives from various locations of gas stations including Shell and Speedway told us that the bank determines whether your card is approved. Likewise, the U.S. Department of Treasury notes that your bank must have your formal consent to approve overdrawn, one-time debit transactions (and their associated fees).
The bank issuing your debit card has much more control over your transaction at the pump than the gas station does, so instead of offering a list of gas stations that will allow you to overdraft, we went straight to the source of all overdraft issues: the banks. Whether or not you overdraft will depend on how much money is in your bank account, the total amount of your purchase (including any holds), and the overdraft policies that apply to your bank account.
Exact policies differ by bank, but there are some commonalities. We checked the overdraft policies of six major U.S. banks (Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citibank, Fifth Third, and Wells Fargo) and found the following:
- All of the banks we checked offered options for overdraft coverage and protection, often referred to as “Overdraft Settings” (for example, Capital One). You should contact your bank or check your account management portal online to see specific details for your bank and account type.
- Many banks will approve overdrawn transactions if they are paid by check, are recurring purchases, or are made using the account number. ATM and debit transactions will be declined, with no overdraft fees charged, unless you have opted in to overdraft coverage. Bank of America, Chase, and Fifth Third Bank are three of the banks that adhere to this type of policy.
- Many banks offer optional Overdraft Protection. Overdraft Protection transfers funds from a linked savings, second checking, or money market account to cover your purchase if you overdraft from your primary checking account. Some banks, including Capital One and Citibank, offer lines of credit for Overdraft Protection, though you should be aware that these accrue interest. Some Overdraft Protection transactions have transfer fees of around $10 (at Citibank, for example) to $12 (at Fifth Third Bank, for example).
- If an overdraft purchase is approved, the fee is usually around $35, though the precise amount varies by bank. We provide lots more information, including a list of banks and credit unions with each institution’s overdraft fees and policies revealed, in our article How Much Can I Overdraft My Checking Account?
- Some banks, such as Chase, waive overdraft fees for certain account types.
If your checking account balance is low and you decide to use your debit card to buy gas, it can be very easy to accidentally overdraft. In some cases, your balance may be low at a time when you need gas, and you may choose to overdraft out of necessity — but overdraft fees can make this an expensive option. Only consider intentional overdrafts as a last resort.
During your search for gas stations that let you overdraft, it’s important to factor in preauthorization holds. When you purchase gas using a debit card, two charges will appear on your account, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS): an authorization charge, which is usually for only $1, and a debit hold. The $1 authorization charge is held only briefly and exists to check that the card is valid. But the debit hold can be much more and can be held much longer.
According to the NACS, retailers set the hold amounts for debit card purchases. However, in our investigation of preauthorization hold amounts, gas station representatives told us that banks determine the amount. See our article for more details. If you overdraft because of a hold, you should contact your bank for policy information and assistance in removing it.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to know for sure whether your gas purchase will cause an overdraft since payment policies and hold amounts vary so widely by the gas station and by the bank. You should become aware of your account’s overdraft settings by contacting your bank or checking your status online. Additionally, to avoid overdraft fees, we suggest waiting to buy gas until you know you have the funds in your account or using a different payment method at the pump, such as cash, a credit card, or a gas card.
Whether or not you will overdraft on a gasoline purchase is determined by the terms of your bank account, including whether you have opted in for overdraft protection or overdrawn transaction approval. Gas stations do not have any control over whether your bank will approve the transaction. If you think you may overdraft, consider using a different payment method to avoid steep overdraft fees.