The below content is meant to be informational and not used as financial advice.
Two years ago, I had COVID the week before Thanksgiving. To have any kind of (solitary) holiday meal, I decided to try Walmart’s pick-up service for the first time. I downloaded the app, created my list, chose a pick-up time - how easy! I stayed in my car, masked, while everything was loaded in the trunk. “This is the only way I’m shopping from now on,” I thought.
A few days later, I’m browsing Amazon. I looked at my checking account balance and made a purchase that I could afford to buy. Or so I thought.
The next morning, I checked digital banking and noticed that some funds were automatically transferred from my savings account to cover the Amazon charge in my checking (a very cool OFCU benefit, by the way). My account had overdrawn? What?!
Well, it turns out that Walmart pick-up charges have a looonng hold time. They can appear as a pending transaction for up to a week. Then the charge will drop off your transaction list. BUT – it hasn’t posted just yet. If you look for it, you won’t see that charge in your transactions. AND, the amount of that Walmart order has been added back to your available balance because those funds aren’t on hold anymore – which is why I thought I had more money in my account than I did and overspent.
It can take a day or two for the Walmart charge to debit your account after the hold is released.
- A Walmart pick-up order totals $50. There is $200 in your account.
- The $50 charge will show as pending for four days and your available balance will be shown as $150.
- On day five that Walmart charge is no longer pending in your transaction list so you may assume it has hit your account. Your available balance will now show as $200. Following me?
- On day six or seven, that $50 charge from Walmart is now (finally!) showing as debit transaction and the money has been deducted from your account.
- If you make additions to your order and have multiple charges, they may not all go through that cycle at the same time.
So, if you aren’t paying attention to your account history between the stages of ‘pending, no longer pending and gone’ to make sure all recent purchases have been withdrawn you can easily make the same mistake I did and overdraw your account.
I still use the Walmart app regularly for pick-up but I now use a credit card at checkout. Then, I easily transfer the amount of my purchase from my checking to my Visa and it’s an immediate transaction in digital banking. My available balance is current and correct – and I don’t have to babysit that Walmart charge.
BONUS TIP: When you use your debit card at the gas pump, you might wind up with a hold of $100 (or more) no matter what you actually spent on gas. It’s not a fraudulent charge, it will drop off and your account will be debited for the amount you owe. BUT – like the Walmart situation, if you have another transaction trying to clear while that $100 is tied up you could overdraft your account. To avoid this, use your debit card as ‘credit’ at the pump or use a credit card.
*Unfortunately, there’s nothing OFCU can do about the holds placed by merchants - or how long they last.