Debit Card Pending Transaction Explained

Person looking at debit card transactions on the PC

Debit cards are payment cards used to carry out transactions. Credit card companies or banks are in charge of issuing these cards. When you carry out a transaction or make a purchase with a debit card, the funds are usually withdrawn from your account, unlike a credit card where the funds are borrowed from the card issuer. After the purchase or transaction (using your debit card), you’ll notice a pending tag when you access your banking app, indicating that your transaction is awaiting. What does this mean?

Debit card pending transactions are simply transactions that have been submitted to the necessary party for checks and approval but are yet to leave your account. It takes about a day to three days for such transaction to post (be approved).

Understanding how transactions work is key to understanding the reasons behind that pending or outstanding tag on your online bank account. Some individuals don’t know what this tag is or the reason for its appearance. While others know what the tag is, but they don’t understand why it’s on their banking application. I’ve heard of scenarios where people panic because of the appearance of this tag. My bet is that they are new cardholders. Below is an explanation of the debit card outstanding transaction.

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Debit Card Pending Transaction Explained

A debit card allows you to make secure and convenient purchases online and in-person by withdrawing funds from your checking account. You aren’t lending money from a line of credit; instead, the money is taken from your account. The use of a debit card has skyrocketed since its introduction and, according to research, has successfully replaced cash transactions and the use of checks.

The estimated number of debit cards in the US as of 2018 was 5.36 billion. This indicates the widespread use of this card in the US, a country with one of the largest number of cardholders. While statistics show that there are many debit card users in the US, I don’t have to be a soothsayer to predict that only a few percentages of these individuals understand how these cards work. Not just how to use them, but how transactions are processed, why certain information appears on their banking statement, etc.

Debit cards work in a simple way. You swipe your card at a store, and the fund for the purchase is placed on hold. At this point, if you check your online banking, you’ll notice the appearance of a pending tag. The tag is an indication that the transaction you made has been authorized but is yet to leave your account. The process of approving a debit card transaction is not as simple as we think it is, and that is why it usually takes a few days for the tag to drop off.

A debit card transaction process involves four parties who work in unison to conduct the necessary checks, transfers, and transaction approval. They are the reason why you see the pending tag. So, if anything happens and these parties delay the process, the tag may stay on your account longer than usual.

However, when this happens, you shouldn’t fret, as the outstanding tag will fall off when your transaction has been approved. In fact, sometimes, the tag may disappear without the funds for the transaction leaving your account. However, you shouldn’t be worried, neither should you spend the money meant for the transaction because, at a later time, the funds will be withdrawn.

If you have no idea of what transactions are outstanding, you can check by logging in to your online banking and clicking on your checking account to view the account history. You will notice the pending tag next to any transaction that is yet to post and clear your account. Always remember that the duration of this tag depends on the debit card transaction process. What does this mean? It means if the debit card transaction process takes a week, for instance, the tag will remain on your account for a week.

If you make a payment with your credit card and the merchant fails to take the funds from your account, in most situations, it will drop back into your account after a week (7 days). This is usually around 28 days for hotel reservations, car hire, including other hire transactions.

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When Do Pending Transactions Go Through?

Outstanding transactions are common these days. If you use a credit or a debit card to transact, you should be very familiar with the term “PENDING.” The tag appears on your online banking after a transaction. If you bought a product, the PENDING tag is a sign that your purchase has been authorized. However, the money won’t really leave your account at that instant. To quell any unnecessary worry, it is essential you know when an awaiting transaction gets posted.

It takes about a day (24 hours) to three days for a pending transaction to go through. However, in some cases, it may take longer than day three days; it all depends on the merchant and your bank.

Some people panic when an outstanding transaction takes a long time to get posted. They probably feel there has been an issue with the transaction or their debit card. People who get worried are usually those who have no idea of how an awaiting transaction works, the time it takes to fall off, including other related information.

You see, when you know the necessary details of a pending transaction, you won’t panic when a transaction fails to post after the usual time. You’ll know who to call and how to react. In the event that you notice a pending tag for a transaction you didn’t authorize, don’t hesitate to contact your bank. Your bank should be able to hold the funds till the necessary investigation is complete. However, you should note that, it is impossible to cancel an outstanding transaction. You’ll have to wait till it posts to dispute the transaction.

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