Gas Pumps, Restaurants, and Rental Cars:

ryclark Using ProActive

As you get ready to use ProActive with one of our partner’s Debit Cards, there are a few nuances that you should know about.

What are “Pre-Auths”?     **IMPORTANT**
You may or may not have noticed before, but many businesses will “pre-authorize” your card until they know what your final bill is. This is done by charging amounts other than your actual bill. This is how Pending Transactions get created and is how the entire card system is built worldwide. Now don’t worry, everything will magically adjust to your actual and final bill within 2-3 business days.  The tricky thing for us is that, because we’re working in “cash”, you have to cover the difference until it’s settled.

Below is a list of merchants where you will notice this behavior and must plan for it.

Gas Pump:
When you fill-up, the pump doesn’t know if you’re going to fill up a lawnmower or an aircraft carrier. So they authorize the card with anything from $1 up to $100…Bam! With ProActive if you tap on your gas category and load up $100, and then fill-up for $25, you may notice the full $100 disappear from your category. Now the difference will magically re-appear in 2-3 business days after the transaction is settled, but you’re out that money until then. Yikes!

Here’s what we do:

Create 2 Gas Categories.
1 – “Gas Holding” will hold your full Gas budget.
2 – “Gas Spending” is used to transfer the amount you think you’ll be spending on that fill-up.  So if you think you’ll fill up at around $35, transfer $40 from your “Gas Holding” to “Gas Spending”.

Remember, merchants can never charge more than you have “Active” on your card, so you are always in control.

Gas merchants basically have two behaviors at the pump.

  1. Authorize $100 or see the attendant inside
  2. Authorize up to $100 or the balance on the card, whichever is less.

Method #1 is a bit annoying because you have to go inside, but it’s easy.  Just go in, activate the amount you wish to spend in your “Gas Spending”, tell the attendant you want to put $40 on pump 5 and you’ll be all set.

Method #2 is ideal and we find it’s more common.  At the pump, you’ll simply activate your “Gas Spending” with the amount you wish to spend ($40). You’ll swipe and the full $40 will be gone.  You’ll fill up and the pump will stop you right at $40.  It won’t let you overspend.  😉  Now if you spend just $35, then the difference will come back to you.

Because of the potential of tipping, most restaurants’ merchant systems charge us 120% of the purchase amount. This will happen at Drive-Through’s too where you wouldn’t expect to tip, like McDonald’s. So be aware, you need to have 120% for any restaurant purchase. Now if you actually tipped 15% or 0% then the difference will come back to you.

Hotels and Rental Cars:
Since you’re dealing with digital cash, it works just the same. You’ll need to have the entire amount available for the required deposits. This is usually $100 -$300, but they’ll tell you what the required amount is and if they even accept Debit Cards (Many don’t and require a major credit card). Once your transaction with them is final (i.e. when you return the car or leave the hotel), they’ll settle it up and return the deposit less any charges.

Vending Machines:
This is a bit similar to the Gas Pump where they don’t know exactly know what you’re going to purchase.  So many machines will Pre-Auth for the highest priced item in the machine.


If you ever have any trouble, reach out to us on the Support Chat right in the app. We’ll guide you through.

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Have you had money in your category but you’re still getting that horrible “Decline”!  Learn more about how the ProActive App works here and avoid being frustrated in the checkout line.