“Since this story aired, we did speak with representatives from Visa and Mastercard who told us this practice is protection for consumers and merchants. They liken it to a paper check not being a guarantee of available funds. As a result, funds from paper checks can take several days to appear in your account. Similarly, this credit card surcharge is held for up to 72 hours as well. Visa and Mastercard tell us the surcharge is added at express checkout facilities like restaurants, hotels, and pay-at-the-pump gas stations. The AMOUNT of the held money is calculated by the issuer of your particular card…i.e., your bank. All held monies are required to be reinstated into your account within 72 hours. All of the information regarding this policy and your particular credit card should be in the original credit card contract agreement.”
A similar thing happens when you eat and pay by credit at restaurants. If a careless employee-read boss-forgets to forward the final charges to visa or mc on time, he or she might find the completed charge rejected.