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What are those random $1 charges on my credit card?

They’re usually only temporary holds.

If you see a $1 charge on your card account, you might be confused. You don’t remember buying something for exactly a buck — what gives?

As it turns out, there’s probably a legitimate reason for the charge. And if so, rest easy knowing the charge will be removed very soon.

Why you might have gotten a $1 charge on a credit card

That $1 charge is likely a preauthorization hold. This basically means a merchant is checking if your card can accept new charges. For example, you might use your card at a hotel, gas station or car rental agency, which are common places that’ll use these $1 charges.

Why $1? The reason is some merchants might not know how much your final charge will be. At the gas station, for instance, you must dip your card before pumping, but you haven’t yet seen the cost of your fill-up.

By validating your card with a $1 transaction, the merchant knows your card is legit. The merchant can then charge your card with the total when it’s available.

Some services and platforms will put a $1 hold on your card simply to check if your card is valid — not to charge you later. For example, you might see this when you add your card to PayPal for the first time.

Will that $1 charge go away?

Yes. After the merchant charges the final amount to your card, the $1 charge will disappear from your transaction history.

While the $1 charge exists, your transaction with the merchant is pending — that is, it hasn’t been fully processed. Once the transaction has posted — meaning it’s been fully processed — there’s no more need for the preauthorization hold.

When you should worry about those $1 charges

The vast majority of the time, a $1 charge is nothing to worry about. However, you should look into it when it shows up as a posted charge in your card’s transaction history.

This could be a simple error on the merchant’s end. It could also mean malicious activity by a fraudster.

Regardless of the reason, call your bank and ask about the transaction. Keep in mind zero-liability protection is standard across card issuers, so you’ll rarely be on the hook for fraud as long as you report it.

Bottom line

A $1 charge on your credit card is typically nothing to worry about. It’s most likely a preauthorization hold when you spend at a merchant such as a hotel, gas station or car rental agency.

However, it’s always a good idea to check your posted transactions to make sure the charge is removed. If the charge is still there, contact your bank.

Many credit cards come with fraud protection, and you’ll typically find a suite of security features from each card issuer.

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