Whether you’re using a Fizz card, a credit card, a debit card, or even just your ATM card, you’ve probably seen pending transactions show up in your account. And they can be confusing. Pending transactions don’t always affect your balance right away. Sometimes they change in amount. Sometimes they even disappear altogether.
When you make a purchase, sometimes it’ll show up as pending for a few minutes, hours, or even days. Other purchases don’t show up as pending at all, going straight to the “completed” state and factoring into your balance right away. It’s almost as if they’re designed to be confusing. But if you want to fully understand your personal finances, it’s important to learn how pending transactions work.
Overview and examples
When you buy something by swiping your card or entering your card number, that transaction goes through a few different phases. First, it needs to be accepted - in other words, not declined. After it’s accepted, the transaction or payment needs to be processed. In many cases, transactions process right away. But sometimes, transactions take a little while to fully process. This is when you’ll see a transaction show up in your account as “pending.”
While any transaction might first show up as pending, it’s especially common to see after you’ve visited a restaurant. Many restaurants tally up tips and run bills through their system at the end of every night, or every few days. As a result, the final amount of your transaction is likely to change once the restaurant adds your tip to your pending transaction.
Another example of when you might see pending transactions is at hotels and rental car agencies. Most hotels and rental car agencies will make you give them a card for incidentals - in other words, in case you order room service and charge it to your room, trash the hotel room or total your car. These types of companies will usually add a pending transaction to your account of a couple hundred dollars. These pending transactions will go away entirely and you won’t owe anything additional, as long as you don’t incur additional charges.
Pending vs posted transactions
Pending transactions will show up as pending on your account, but they won’t affect your balance or appear as part of your total spending. Once a transaction finishes pending, it becomes a posted transaction (unless the pending transaction goes away entirely, like with a hold placed on your card by a hotel or a rental car agency).
While pending transactions eat into your credit line, you don’t actually owe any money for them until they post to your account. You can’t pay off a pending transaction until it become a posted transaction. Posted transactions are finalized and won’t change. You may be refunded separately, or you may owe more at a later date, but that posted transaction itself won’t change.
Fizz and pending transactions
You’re probably already familiar with the way that the Fizz card works - we link to your bank account, give you a spending limit based on your balance to keep you from overspending, and your transactions need to be paid off every day for you to keep using the card. But does what you owe include pending transactions?
The answer is no. You won’t owe any money for pending transactions until they become posted transactions. However, pending transactions will eat into your spend limit. So if you have a $100 spend limit and you have a $40 pending transaction, you’ll only be able to spend $60 more on your Fizz card, even though you won’t actually have to pay off that $40 transaction until it posts to your account and is no longer pending. This is how Fizz works, and it’s how a normal credit card works as well.
This point illustrates another benefit of using your Fizz card instead of your normal, bank-issued debit card. Pending transactions on your Fizz card aren’t withdrawn from your connected bank account until they’re cleared. Pending transactions that come from your normal, bank-issued debit card are immediately locked up and unusable until the transaction clears or goes away.
There are plenty of reasons to use Fizz, and pending transactions are certainly one of them. Not only will your Fizz card keep more money in your pocket while your transactions are pending, but we also have resources just like this one to help you better understand your spending and your finances.
Sam is a Kenyon College alum and is head of content at Fizz. He's been a go to personal finance resource among his peers since getting his first credit card during his sophomore year of college. He hails from Washington, DC, loves all things aviation, and currently lives in Los Angeles.