Maybe you’ve seen an unexpected transaction pop up in the pending transactions on your bank account, or maybe the transaction is a regular direct debit that you forgot about.
Either way, seeing a pending transaction you weren’t prepared for on your debit card can be a shock, especially if it’s a lot of money.
If you have been caught off guard by a pending transaction, it’s important not to panic. There are steps you can take to cancel a pending debit card transaction in some cases.
Read on to find out how to cancel a pending transaction on a debit card and hang onto your money until you can afford to make the payment.
What Are Pending Transactions?
If you’re not sure what a pending transaction is, it’s pretty easy to understand.
Basically, when a merchant issues a charge to your account, it has to cycle through various payment networks, including your bank.
This means that transactions can’t be completed in an instant. Rather they need hours or sometimes days to be fully processed and cleared.
So, while your transaction is being processed, it may appear on your bank statement as a pending transaction.
Only when the debit card issuer has completed the process of sending the money you spent to the merchant can the transaction be finalized.
How to Cancel A Pending Debit Card Transaction
If you want to cancel a transaction on a debit card, you should know that this can be difficult because your card issuer can’t simply undo the transaction for you.
Many people contact their card issuers and ask for a pending transaction to be canceled, only to be told that they must wait until the transaction has been posted to dispute it.
However, this can cause problems because once the transaction has been posted, it will affect your overall bank balance and could leave you with insufficient funds unless the issue has been resolved.
Therefore, we recommend contacting the merchant directly and asking for the pending transaction to be canceled.
The merchant will need to get in contact with the card issuer and confirm that they are happy for the transaction to be canceled.
You should contact your card issuer directly rather than the merchant if you know that you did not make or authorize a pending transaction.
This could indicate a fraudulent purchase. In this case, your card issuer will monitor the transaction, get in contact with the merchant, and potentially cancel the transaction once it posts if it is indeed fraudulent.
If you have a direct debit for something like an energy bill that is showing up as a pending transaction and can’t afford to pay it, you should contact your provider and explain the situation.
They may be willing to freeze your direct debits for the time being.
Disputing A Posted Transaction On A Debit Card
A lot of the time, pending transactions will post before they can be canceled, either because this is the easiest way for the merchant and card issuer to reverse the transaction or because the transaction was not noticed by the debit card holder until after it was posted.
The good news is that it’s generally much easier to dispute a transaction that has been posted than it is to argue against a pending transaction.
If a posted transaction has come out of your account, you can contact your bank, and they must acknowledge your request within 30 days, resolving it within a maximum of 90 days.
Of course, 90 days is a very long time to wait if you have erroneously had a large sum of money taken from your account, but luckily, most banks now have an online charge dispute system in place where you can have your issue resolved much more quickly.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are Preauthorization Charges?
If you’re considering disputing a pending or posted transaction because it’s higher than what you expected to pay, consider that preauthorization charges could be responsible.
A preauthorization charge is an extra fee that some merchants will charge to compensate for potential additional costs.
For instance, gas stations might initially charge you for an extra-large tank of gas when you only filled up the same as usual.
If that’s the case, you can expect the extra fee to be returned to your account once the transaction posts. The same is often true of hotel room charges.
Hotels are entitled to collect deposits if you accidentally damage the room, for example. Again, though, if you didn’t cause any damage, the deposit should be refunded.
If you think the preauthorization charge is larger than your state allows (Tennessee, for instance, only allows a 25% excess), get in contact with the merchant or your card issuer.
When Does Pending Transaction Post As A Transaction?
Most pending transactions will post within 3 days, but it can take five days and sometimes even longer in some situations for the transaction to appear in the main section of your bank statement and be reflected in your bank balance.
Why Can’t I Cancel A Pending Transaction?
Most of the time, you will have to wait until a pending transaction has been posted because you can dispute it pending transactions are subject to change, so canceling them during the pending period can confuse both you and the merchant.
Preauthorization charges are a good example of this.
If you want to cancel a pending transaction on a debit card, you should contact the merchant most of the time.
If the merchant is happy to reverse the transaction, they will contact your bank and ask them to do so.
For fraudulent transactions, you should contact your card issuer immediately so that they can monitor the transaction and refund your money if necessary.
You will often need to wait for the transaction to post before the money can be returned to your account since pending transactions may change during processing.