How long can a credit card debit be on hold?

You may have seen a charge to your credit card account that says “pending” and wondered how long it will be on your account. What if you have a problem and want to cancel a direct debit while it’s still pending?

What is a pending credit card debit?

When you swipe your credit card to make a purchase, the merchant’s acquiring bank (which handles payments for the merchant) makes sure with your card issuer that you have a valid account with sufficient funds to make the purchase. The funds are deducted from your available credit line as a pending transaction but not yet paid to the merchant.

It is also customary in the hospitality industry to block your credit card when checking in for your stay. Thus, the hotel will be covered in case you cause damage to the room, as well as for incidental costs such as snacks or drinks that you have enjoyed. Car rentals could also suspend your card to cover incidental expenses, which would appear as pending charges.

In the restaurant industry, your last tab will likely include a regular tip, so your initial payment will be a pending payment until the invoice is finalized. At gas stations, too, owners will likely place a small hold on your card to make sure you have funds.

When will a pending charge be cleared?

Usually there will be a pending charge on your account until the transaction is processed and the funds are transferred to the merchant. This can usually take up to three days, but can stretch longer depending on the trader and the type of transaction.

In the hospitality industry, for example, an incidental charge deduction that appears as a pending charge will be waived shortly after the hotel bill has been paid for charges you actually incurred when you checked out. If you use a different type of payment, such as cash or a debit card (or even a different credit card to pay your bill than the one that was originally withheld), it may take a while. time before the hold is cleared with your issuing card.

In the meantime, the pending charges will reduce the amount of credit you have on your card, so be sure to take this into account when using your card.

Problem with a pending transaction

What if you have a problem with a pending transaction? In some cases, a trader can duplicate a charge. For example, an online merchant might verify your card when you make the purchase and then authorize your card when you actually need to make payment (usually after the merchant has shipped your order). While this type of hold may appear twice in your pending transactions, you will only be billed once.

Card issuers are not inclined to resolve issues with pending transactions as the amount is not yet finalized and the actual payment due may differ. That is why you should contact the merchant to resolve any issues you are having with the pending transactions. If you want cancel a pending transaction, the merchant will need to contact your card issuer and ask them to cancel the transaction.

What if the merchant is unwilling to fix a problem with a pending transaction? Maybe you can’t even contact a representative to fix your problem. Unfortunately, you cannot dispute a pending transaction with your card issuer. You will have to wait for a transaction to be posted to resolve the issue. You will then be able to benefit from the protections offered by the Fair Credit Billing Act to file a dispute concerning the charges with your card issuer.

The bottom line

Credit card charges typically appear as pending transactions on your account until the transaction is processed or a hold is removed. It can take several days. If you have a problem while a transaction is pending, you will need to resolve it with the merchant. You cannot dispute a pending debit with a card issuer and will have to wait until it is actually posted.

Contact me at [email protected] with your credit card questions.


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About Joan Ferguson

Joan Ferguson

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