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Should I be worried about ‘pending’ transactions on my credit card or bank statement?

Dubai: When you’re scrolling through your recent bank statements and credit card accounts, you may come across purchases and payments marked as ‘pending’ in the list of your balances, recent transactions, and upcoming payments.

Such ‘pending’ transactions are dues that have not been fully posted to your bank account or credit card statement yet. But what does that mean for you? When will a pending charge be cleared? What if you have an issue with a pending transaction? Let’s explore these in detail.

“If you have seen a charge on your account saying ‘pending’, you may wonder how long it will stick on your account, and what if you want to cancel a charge while it is still pending, what are you to do if you run into such an issue?” said Essam Kabeelali, a UAE-based consumer credit advisor.

What does it mean for a transaction to be ‘pending’? A ‘pending’ transaction is a payment that has begun but has not been completed. An example of this is someone who has filled out an online shopping checkout form and then gone to the banking portal for payment. While this initiates a record of sale, the payments haven’t been completed yet.Another instance is when your payment is put on hold for incidental charges (which are not part of the main bill) at a hotel you’re staying at, as such a charge will appear as a ‘pending’ charge and will be cleared soon after you pay the hotel bill for the charges you actually incurred when you check out.If you use a different payment type such as cash or debit card though (or even a different credit card to pay your bill than the one that has the initial hold on it), it could take a while for the hold to clear with your card issuer.

Does ‘pending’ transaction mean there is a problem?

“If a banking or credit card transaction indicates ‘pending’, there isn’t inherently a problem, but it can be an indication of some other problem. It’s vital to examine some of those possibilities, as well as implications,” added Kabeelali.

Usually, a pending charge will show on your account until the transaction is processed and the funds are transferred to the merchant. “This could typically take up to three days but may stretch longer depending on the merchant and the type of transaction,” he further explained.

As card issuers are not liable to resolve issues with pending transactions, considering that they act on amounts that are only finalised and whenever the actual payment due may differ, Kabeelali suggests contacting the retailer to sort out any issues you have with pending transactions.

What if you have an issue with a pending transaction?

“A ‘pending’ transaction may also mean retailers may have duplicated a charge. For instance, a retailer could verify your card when you make the purchase and then authorise your card when you are due to make the payment,” said Rajesh Markara, another Abu Dhabi-based debt advisor.

“While this sort of hold could appear twice in your pending transactions, you will only be billed once. So, there is no need to worry when you see ‘pending’ transaction and you have come to realise that it’s because a retailer charged you twice.”

If the retailer is not willing to sort out an issue with a ‘pending’ transaction, or you can’t even reach a representative to sort out your issue, Markara advised that you then must wait until the status of the transaction changes in the upcoming billings to resolve the matter.

A ‘pending’ transaction could also be due to a technical glitch Once a payment is processed by your payment processor it needs to communicate with your store to indicate a completed sale. If it can’t communicate with your store then your payments will all remain as ‘pending’, explained Kabeelali.“You can tell if a payment was successfully made by logging into your payment processor’s panel. If you find a transaction that has been fully and properly paid, but remains pending in your store, you’ll know there’s a communication problem there.”

How a ‘pending’ transaction status affects balances?

“With pending transactions, what you need to remember is that it can impact your available balance – the amount of money you have available to spend – even though they haven’t technically been posted to your account yet,” added Markara.

For example, if you have a balance of Dh1,000 in your savings or credit card account and there are two ‘pending’ transactions totaling Dh300, then your total available outstanding balance would be Dh700.

On the other hand, once those transactions post, they’ll no longer impact your available balance since they’ll be reflected in your current balance – which is the total amount of money you have in your account, including any transactions that haven’t cleared yet.

Key takeaway: Are ‘pending’ status bills a cause to worry?

Even though a ‘pending’ transaction will show up in your account immediately, the funds won’t be transferred from your bank account to the retailer until the transaction posts. Once the transaction posts, it will be reflected in your account balance as a ‘posted’ transaction.

So, a transaction status of ‘pending’ means that you do not have access to the product you tried to buy, you don’t get an email about the product, and if you log into the retailer’s site and look at the product page, it won’t list the product in the download area. But there is still no need to worry.

The first course of action is to convince your retailer to manually complete the sale, which will give you a notification that the transaction was completed normally, after which you will get their post-sale email and have full access to your purchases.

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