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As you browse through your bank and credit card statements, you may notice your current balance as well as "authorized" or "pending" transactions. 

So, what are pending transactions, and what do they mean for you? In this article, we dive into how pending charges work and what you need to know.

What is a pending transaction?

A pending transaction is a charge that has been authorized but hasn't been fully processed. Pending transactions can occur when the money needed for the transaction is still being transferred between accounts.

Payments, purchases, and deposits can all result in pending transactions. With a credit card, pending transactions can occur with both account payments and transactions.

How long do pending transactions take?

Pending transactions generally take between one and five business days to clear. That time can vary based on the type of transaction, the payment network, and the bank or credit card issuer.

Here are some examples of how long pending transactions can take:

  • Pending credit card transactions can take up to 3 business days to clear.
  • Direct deposits usually clear by the next business day.
  • Check deposits usually take up to 2 business days.
  • Wire transfers usually take 1 business day, while international wire transfers can take up to 2 weeks.
  • ACH payments usually take 1 to 5 business days.

Are pending transactions already deducted from my account?

Pending transactions are not yet deducted from your account. They are transactions that have been authorized by the merchant but have not yet been processed by your bank. The amount of the transaction will be temporarily deducted from your available balance, but the actual deduction will only occur when the transaction is processed. It's important to keep track of your pending transactions to avoid overdraft fees or other unexpected charges.‍

What causes pending transactions?

Some of the most common reasons for pending credit card transactions are:

Bank holds

Banks may place holds on accounts to monitor for unusual activity or protect against fraud, such as in cases of payment disputes or unusual spending patterns.

Debit card holds

In instances where you can't use your PIN for a debit card transaction, your debit card issuer will label the transaction as pending for up to 4 business days. 

Credit card holds

Credit card payments take less time to clear than debit card payments. Usually, your credit card issuer will verify that you have sufficient funds, and then clear the transaction within 48 hours.

Merchant holds

Merchants like hotels and gas stations use authorization holds to verify the card and reserve funds for potential additional charges, causing transactions to show as pending.

Canceled transactions

If a transaction is canceled after being authorized, it may still appear as pending until fully processed.

Subscription renewals

When a subscription is due for renewal, a merchant may request authorization from the credit card issuer to ensure the card is still valid and has sufficient funds, resulting in a pending transaction.

Fraud and anti-fraud authorizations

Unknown pending transactions can indicate potential fraud. Conversely, companies may apply small pending charges as a security measure to confirm card ownership and prevent fraudulent activity.

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Can you cancel pending transactions?

If you want to cancel a pending transaction, you'll need to reach out to the merchant. They can then contact your credit card issuer. Several factors can impact your ability to cancel a transaction:

Purchase type/category

Some merchants, like restaurants and gas stations, will typically place a hold on your card that results in a pending transaction. Travel agents may place a hold that lasts up to 30 days. Be aware that with some categories, your best course of action is simply to wait.

Delayed shipments

If your charge is pending due to a delayed shipment, contact the seller and ask them to cancel the transaction until they complete the shipment.

Holidays

During bank holidays, your card purchases may lead to pending transactions. Usually, the pending payment will be finalized during the first business day following the holiday.

Banking hours

Banking hours are usually 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Any credit card charges outside these hours will likely be held as pending payments until at least the next business day. If the charges don't clear by the next business day, consider contacting the merchant to see if they can lift the pending payment.

Gain complete transaction visibility with Ramp

If you’re looking for complete transparency in your spending account charges, look no further than Ramp. Ramp gives you access to the following:

  • Chargeback for unknown and questionable charges
  • Spend control and management features
  • Cutting-edge security capabilities that make it easy to identify and flag fraudulent, suspicious, and unauthorized charges in real-time
Try Ramp for free.
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Content Lead, Ramp
Fiona writes about B2B growth strategies and digital marketing. Prior to Ramp, she led content teams at Google and Intercom. Fiona graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in English. Outside of work, she spends time dreaming about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail one day.
Ramp is dedicated to helping businesses of all sizes make informed decisions. We adhere to strict editorial guidelines to ensure that our content meets and maintains our high standards.

FAQs

How long do pending transactions take?
Does a pending credit card charge mean it went through?
Can I cancel a pending charge on my credit card?
Do pending credit card charges affect my available balance?
Do pending transactions show on credit card statements?
Can you pay off pending transactions on a credit card?

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