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Banking Basics

What is a Pending Transaction?

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    • FNBO

      Nov 01 2023

Article | Read time: 2 minutes

Curious about what makes a transaction pending or how long it takes to move from pending to posted? Let's go over exactly what those transactions in limbo are and everything you need to know about managing them in your account. 

First, what is a pending transaction?

A pending transaction is a recent transaction that's been authorized but hasn't officially made it to your checking account or credit card yet. Here's why it happens:

  • Merchant side or transaction type.  Sometimes the delay is from the merchant side. It could also depend on the type of transaction — it's not uncommon for an online merchant to wait to post a transaction after they ship it. 
  • Large purchases. For large or out-of-character buys your bank may want to double-check with the merchant that it was authorized by you.
  • International travels. International transactions can take longer to process. 

You'll spot them in your account as "Pending" line items, while they will affect your available balance they won't actually leave your account until they are fully processed.

When will they post?

Most pending transactions disappear within 1-7 days. But, some can be stubborn. For instance, using your credit card overseas can sometimes take a whopping 30 days to clear.

Why is it taking so long to clear?

Got a pending transaction overstaying its welcome? This could be due to a merchant who hasn't finished processing it, or a hold (such as a security deposit). If it's been more than 7 days, contact the merchant or your bank. 

Tips and Tricks

  • Always monitor your account balance, especially pending transactions so you can know how much is in your account/leaving your account and make sure pending amounts are correct. 
  • If you see a pending transaction you don't recognize, while you will have to wait until it posts to dispute it, you can still contact your bank to find out more about the transaction. Sometimes you may have forgotten or it may appear under an unrecognizable name. 
  • Be patient; some pending transactions take their time!

Have more questions about pending transactions? Let's get them answered!

Can a pending transaction be declined?

Your bank or credit card issuer can decline a pending transaction if it exceeds your available funds. 

How to cancel a pending transaction.

Typically you can't cancel a pending transaction. Even if it's fraudulent or the wrong amount, your bank usually needs the transaction to post before it can next steps. That doesn't mean it's impossible to cancel — you can contact the merchant if there is an error and they can usually reverse it.

Can you dispute a pending charge?

You can only dispute a pending charge with your bank when it has been posted. You can try to reach out to the merchant first to resolve the issue.

Does freezing a card stop pending transactions?

If the transaction has already been authorized it will still clear, regardless of if you freeze or lock your card. Locking your card will only affect future transactions authorizing and posting. 

An FNBO personal banker can help you find the checking account and debit card that best meets your needs. Or, if you find that a credit card best meets your needs, we can help you with that too. Call or stop by a branch today.

The articles in this blog are for informational purposes only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations. When making decisions about your financial situation, consult a financial professional for advice. Articles are not regularly updated, and information may become outdated.