What are pending card transactions?

Anna Meehan
Anna Meehan 09 December 2021

You may notice that when you make a purchase with your Equals Money card, whilst the money is deducted from your available balance, it doesn’t actually leave your account immediately. These show up on your transactions page as pending – but what does that actually mean?

What is a pending card transaction?

When you make a transaction with your Equals Money card, the merchant, or retailer, asks us to reserve the amount in your account but don’t immediately claim the funds. Instead, we put that money aside ready for the merchant to collect usually within one to three days later. It’s during this time that the transaction is pending.  

This process happens to all cards, but other financial providers may refer to it differently. We like to keep things simple, so we refer to these transactions as either “pending” or “complete”. Other companies may use terms such as “authorised”, “finalised”, “settled”, “cleared”, or “posted”.

Why should I pay attention to pending transactions?

Pending transactions usually represent your account’s most recent activity, the majority of which will be complete in the standard amount of time. 

In some cases, the final transaction value may change when it’s completed by the merchant - this often happens when spending in a different currency to the one held in your balance. If you’re managing a business account, you may want to avoid uploading pending transactions to your accountancy software until they’re complete for this reason.

What happens if the pending transaction doesn’t complete?

There are several reasons why pending card transactions may not complete:

  • I used my card for a deposit. If cards are used for a security deposit, a merchant will hold an amount of money on your balance. Assuming no damages are charged, the transaction will not complete.
  • There was a technical issue with the merchant’s terminal. In some rare situations, a merchant’s payment system may encounter an issue resulting in the transaction not being completed on their side, but they still request us to block the money. 
  • The ATM did not dispense my cash. In very rare situations, ATMs may incur technical problems and not dispense your cash but still request the funds to be blocked from your available balance. There’s also the possibility the ATM did dispense the cash, but it wasn’t taken in time and swallowed by the machine. In these situations, the machine often recognises the issue within a few days and will automatically request us to reverse any pending translation.

If merchants themselves don’t request a reversal of the pending transaction, we will automatically release these types of transactions back to your available balance. Travel-related transactions like accommodation and vehicle rental take 21 days to be returned to your available balance. All other types should take 14 days to automatically release. 

If you have any further questions regarding pending transactions, please contact us. 

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