I recently made a large purchase with PayPal two days ago, but didn't realize that it would try billing my checking account with the whole amount rather than splitting it between my checking account (primary) and my credit card (backup funding source).

I'm concerned because nothing has shown up on my credit card yet. I recently got a charge on my bank account labeled RET CHG PAYPAL EFF for $32, which, based on how it's a nice round number, I think is an overdraft charge. Other than that, there is no deduction for the bill itself. On PayPal, it says the transaction is complete.

I guess my question is: is the money available to the seller now, or will she have to wait for the charge to clear out on my end? If the former is true, then PayPal is absorbing the cost temporarily. I'm sure this will all work out in a few days, but if it doesn't (e.g. if the cost never shows up on my credit card after a couple of weeks), then this question will suddenly become a lot more interesting.

Update: I received an email from PayPal with the subject "Your bank declined your electronic funds transfer" which says "We will automatically re-attempt this transfer in 3 business days.". Thus, I've learned that not only does the backup funding source not cooperatively supplement my bank account, but the backup funding source isn't even tried right after the primary source fails. Apparently, it's there for PayPal's benefit only, not mine.

"Fortunately", PayPal is smart enough to know that there's a pending transaction when I try to dissociate my bank account to prevent another salvo from being fired at it.

You cannot remove this bank account because it currently has a pending transaction. This transaction may take up to 3-5 days to complete, at which time you will be able to remove the bank account. Please try again after the transaction has been completed."

I plan to contact customer service in the morrow.

Update 2: I called PayPal customer service and learned that "We will automatically re-attempt this transfer in 3 business days" actually means "We already initiated a new electronic funds transfer, but it will take 3 days to go through, and it can't be stopped". The representative said that unfortunately, I would get a service charge, and that the next transfer re-attempt would go to my backup funding source, but (if I understood him correctly) recommended I add funds from a credit card to my PayPal balance to avoid getting a "red mark".

I then proceeded to log into my PayPal account and click Add Funds, but there is no option to add funds from a credit card. You can't add funds from a credit card to your PayPal balance. In fact, it's explicitly against the PayPal User Agreement:

9.1 Restricted Activities. In connection with your use of our website, your Account, the PayPal Services, or in the course of your interactions with PayPal, other Users, or third parties, you will not:
    o. Provide yourself a cash advance from your credit card (or help others to do so);

(kudos to the Internet for finding this)

I apologize to those of you reading this and looking for a way out. I deposited enough money into my bank account to ensure that the second charge won't bounce, while making sure my credit card could also afford the charge should it go there instead.

If you have initiated a payment with PayPal that you meant to come from another funding source rather than your bank account, your best bet is to deposit enough into your bank account to cover the charge. If you can't, call PayPal customer service and ask them to prevent a transfer re-attempt (I don't know if they can actually do that or not). You'll still get a service charge on your bank account, but this should prevent getting another one.

Your best bet is really to be careful before hitting "Send Money". Make sure the right funding source is selected!

  • 3
    I am interested in how this plays out
    – MrChrister
    Aug 18, 2010 at 3:01
  • 1
    Ouch. It's phone call time. And depending on how often you overdraft, you might be able to talk your way out of the fees if you try and explain your situation - that you didn't understand this is how it would work, thought it would take from the other account instead of bouncing and trying again, etc...
    – Lee
    Aug 19, 2010 at 17:07
  • 1
    I use paypal fairly regularly, but I always have this nagging feeling that they are going to screw me over (see paypalsucks.com and the countless other sites full of complaints). Your situation has triggered a total re-evaluation of which accounts are actually linked to paypal.
    – Sean W.
    Oct 18, 2011 at 16:57

3 Answers 3


You should check directly with the seller. I suspect you will find they have not recieved any money.

Paypal tend to hang on to money as long as possible in all transactions, and will do anything to avoid giving out cash before it has come in.


I made this mistake and tried calling Paypal...the first time I have ever been unhappy with their service. The girl gave me some number but didn't make it clear whether it was an order reference number or a reference phone number for the company I ordered from. I called within 10 minutes of placing my order and they were unable to cancel or change the payment method. I did find however, that even though you can't pay paypal with your credit card, some banks will let you. I went into my account and "paid" my account the amount needed using my credit card from the same bank that I had intended to use in the first place...hopefully it went through quickly enough to not get a service fee from Paypal

  • did it work for you?
    – Jasen
    Jan 9, 2017 at 13:10

PayPal will be contacting you shortly, I'm sure. You'll see the reversal on their site in a few days as well as a fee from their end I bet.

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