How long do they have to charge my debit card?
August 8, 2006 8:34 AM   Subscribe

Well over a week ago, I took some friends out to brunch and paid with my debit card. The charge still has not been debited from my bank account. Is there a limit to how long the restaurant has to deduct the funds?

I expect checks to take a little while to clear my account, but I have never had to wait more than a business day or two for a debit card charge to appear in my bank account. It's throwing my checkbook balancing off, and it's annoying me too.

This is a restaurant in a major hotel chain (Wyndham), and I have been watching my statement for this charge because the restaurant staff seem a little shady... I later found out that other members of my family who dined there the day earlier were overcharged on their room bill, and had to fight with the management to remove the extra tip the restaurant charged from their bill (they clearly left a 10% tip for the brunch buffet which was noted on their receipt, the restaurant charged a 20% tip).

Is there a point where I can safely say that they are not going to charge me? Or can they hang on to this charge for as long as their little hearts desire?
posted by catfood to Work & Money (10 answers total)
It depends on their merchant account and bank, but generally if you authorize a payment, that amount is guaranteed for 10 days, after which you can still capture the funds, but you're not guaranteed that the money will be there. If the money isn't there, you (the merchant) are out of luck, but generally, it is available and you can collect your money without a problem.
posted by muddylemon at 8:53 AM on August 8, 2006

Call your bank and ask.

I hope you saved your receipt, though, just in case you run into the issues you detailed.
posted by jerseygirl at 8:54 AM on August 8, 2006

I definitely saved my receipt.

I will call my bank when I'm out of work, but since I can't do that for a few hours, I wanted to see if anyone had any firsthand knowledge of this.
posted by catfood at 8:58 AM on August 8, 2006

In my experience, sometimes it will take a few days to show up debited from my checking account when I use my card - be it a restaurant, gas station, etc. I've never had the benefit of a free meal, or better yet, a free tank of gas.
posted by jerseygirl at 9:05 AM on August 8, 2006

A similar question here. Long story short, they can hang for quite a while.
posted by ml98tu at 9:13 AM on August 8, 2006

Hang on for quite a while. Typed too fast.
posted by ml98tu at 9:14 AM on August 8, 2006

I went to an amusement park during Spring Break, and the charge didn't show up until June.

I assume its because the park was open specially for Spring Break, and they didn't process any charges until they opened for regular season.
posted by adamwolf at 9:15 AM on August 8, 2006

Ugh, you guys are right. I called my bank from the lobby and they said that once I authorized the charge, it is authorized indefinitely.

I called the hotel, and the accounting dept conveniently told me their "system is down".
posted by catfood at 9:22 AM on August 8, 2006

My personal rule-of-thumb is: if the money hasn't been taken out after a year, I assume that it's available for my use again. Sometimes transactions get lost. But sometimes they get found again, and you can have charges appear weeks or months after you made them. Just assume the money's gone. If you have Quicken (or some such), it'll show up as an unreconciled expense every month. After a year, delete the transaction.
posted by jdroth at 9:25 AM on August 8, 2006

In the UK it's a whopping 6 months, as I found out after changing bank accounts and then getting a letter from my old bank telling me of the country's largest supermarket chains had tried, almost 4 months after the transaction, tried to take the money from my account. Six months! (sorry, still can't believe that).
posted by TheDonF at 3:39 PM on August 8, 2006

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