I was about to make a payment the other day to an new loan account and was going to authorize a direct bank account transfer. There was a notice that the company would perform the charge twice on the account and only complete one of the charges.

So we have the common practice of pre-charges to credit cards, which I have experienced many times when getting gas. This, however, was on a checking account and I don't remember ever running into this with a direct bank account transfer. By that logic, I would need to keep 2x the bill $$ in a checking account to avoid any overdraft charges. Are there any rules to this "over charge" just to verify funds before taking the exact amount requested only? Is 2x the requested amount the norm or excessive?

The reason I ask is because I was going to make a large payment, which if they do twice would cause issues.

  • Did they just mean they'd attempt it once, then abort the charge and then attempt it a second time and complete that attempt?
    – bstpierre
    Sep 15, 2010 at 3:24

1 Answer 1


From my days in e-commerce they break down like this?

  1. The company doesn't know a debit from a credit card. Got the Visa logo, then it is a Visa through the company's payment gateway. The gateway talks to the bank and that is where the particulars for money is figured out.

  2. When I programmed gateway interfaces, I had the option to "authorize" or check for funds (which didn't reserve anything, just verified funds existed), run for batch (which put a hold on the funds and collected them at the end of the night) or just take the money.

Most places did a verify during the early checkout stages and then did a batch at the end of the night. The nightly batch allows a merchant to cancel a transaction without getting charged a fee.

The "authorize" doesn't mean the money is tied up, although that might be your banks policy. Furthermore, an authorize can only last for so many days. This also explains why most of your banks don't report your transactions to you the day of. There is a bunch more activity on your card than the transactions that complete.

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