3 Most Common Reasons for a Pending Transaction & What to Do

Credit cards resting on a printed monthly statement

Pending transactions appear on both debit and credit cards when the funds have not been fully processed.

Below, we answer your questions about pending transactions — whether they’re already deducted, what to do if one disappears, and more.

To confirm this information, we contacted customer service representatives for American Express, Navy Federal Credit Union, Capital One, Citibank, and Goldman Sachs.

Are Pending Transactions Already Deducted?

Debit Cards

For pending charges on debit cards, the pending charge amount is deducted from your available funds, customer service representatives for Navy Federal Credit Union, Citibank, and Goldman Sachs told us.

This means that if you have $500 in your bank account and a pending charge of $100 on your debit card, then you will have $400 in available funds in your account (your available balance).

When the funds have cleared and the transaction moves from pending to posted, your actual account balance becomes $400.

Credit Cards

For pending charges and holds on credit cards, you are not responsible for paying the pending amount until the amount becomes final and posted.

If the transaction is still pending on the date your credit card cycle closes, then it will usually post during the next cycle. In that case, you will be responsible for paying it on your next credit card statement.

However, pending charges will decrease your available credit limit, so make sure to plan your purchases accordingly.

We confirmed this information with American Express, Citibank, Navy Federal Credit Union, and Capital One.

What to Do If a Pending Transaction Disappears

If a pending transaction disappears from your card statement, you can contact the bank directly and contact the merchant where you made the purchase for more information.

Contacting the Bank

Your bank should be able to tell you why the transaction dropped off your statement. A pending transaction could disappear if the merchant failed to claim the funds, if the merchant made a pending charge to request pre-authorization, or if the merchant made an error that will be corrected or refunded.

Your bank may also be able to tell you whether the merchant still has time to reconcile the funds and whether the charge may post to your statement at a later time. Make sure to monitor your card statements to see if the charge appears later as a posted charge.

Contacting the Merchant

All the banks we spoke with told us that customers are generally unable to dispute pending transactions until they are posted to the customer account.

For this reason, banks also recommend contacting the merchant directly when a pending charge disappears. The merchant may be able to tell you whether an error was made and whether a refund or correction will be issued.

Common Reasons for Pending Transactions

Below, we’ve summarized the main reasons why a transaction will show as pending on your statement.

Merchant Has Not Claimed Funds

Credit Cards

A transaction often shows as pending for credit cards because the merchant has not claimed it yet. That is, the merchant has not reconciled the charge.

Most pending transactions become reconciled and posted within two to three days but may take as long as five days.

Once the cardholder authorizes a purchase and the credit card company approves it, merchants typically have a limited amount of time to claim the charge, American Express and Capital One customer service representatives said.

For example, for American Express credit and charge cards, merchants have seven to 10 days to claim charges after they are authorized by the bank.

If the merchant does not claim the charge during that time, the charge automatically drops off the credit card statement, and the cardholder is not responsible for payment.

Debit Cards

For debit cards, once the cardholder authorizes the purchase, the bank must approve the transaction; the transaction then becomes finalized and posted to the account.

Most banks process debit card transactions in batches, not in real-time. For this reason, debit card charges may appear as pending before the bank can approve and process them.

Sometimes a transaction will continue to remain pending if there are merchant-related issues, a Navy Federal Credit Union customer service representative said.

For example, if the merchant does not claim the payment after the bank processes it, the bank may post a hold on the amount to give the merchant additional time.

Merchant Errors

Duplicate or false charges may appear on your statement as pending if the merchant has made a mistake.

These pending transactions are usually canceled or corrected by the merchant and will disappear from your statement without being posted.

Pre-Authorized Charges

Certain merchants, including hotels, gas stations, and rental car companies, may place a pre-determined dollar amount on your card to request authorization from the bank for the transaction.

Some companies use these pre-authorized charges as deposits to cover possible additional charges, such as damage to a rental car or associated room charges at a hotel.

These transactions often appear in addition to the actual amount you spend. They usually disappear from your statement and do not post to your account; you will only pay the amount you owe to the company.

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