Yesterday I made an in-person payment using the contactless functionality of my debit card, the reader said that the payment was approved and the transaction was complete.

The money from this transaction hasn't been deducted from my account balance and nor can I find it anywhere (not in my pending transactions (my bank lists all authorisations) and not in my main transaction list). I'm confused about what's happened here- my bank says that they are experiencing no issues at present (I haven't asked them about this problem yet).

Is it possible that the transaction was/is void although the card reader said that it had been approved?

This was a Visa debit card issued by a UK bank and the money was available in my account to cover the transaction amount.

2 Answers 2


When debit cards were first made available one of the advertised strengths was that if you never wrote a check,and always used a debit card, you could never be overdrawn. They money would be instantly withdrawn from the account and the balance would always reflect perfectly the amount of money in the account. Of course some saw the loss of float as a weakness, but for others this instantaneous aspect was what they needed.

If only that were true. I have seen debit card transactions take a couple of days to appear. I have seen a $1 hold for gas not be removed and the real amount withdrawn for 2 or 3 days. Horror stories about having a $3 coffee end up costing $30 because of overdraft fees can only occur if the transactions aren't instant.

The contactless feature doesn't make the time delay any shorter.

The delay for an individual transaction, assuming there are no unusual network problems, still depend on the vendor policies, the card network policies, and the bank policies. But from the viewpoint of the cashier the transaction has been completes and the customer can leave with their coffee. From the viewpoint of the bank account it may still be waiting,


As stated in the other answer, debit card payments even contactless ones, do not debit instantly or anywhere near instantly. They can take several days or even longer.

However, the fact that the payment was approved would indicate that the contactless device used by the retailer managed to connect to your bank account and could see there were sufficient funds. At this time the payment should also have "reserved" the funds so it will be "pending" as such. Your online banking may not show all types of pending transactions, it may only show Direct Debits for example, if you ring the bank I expect they will be able to see this payment and advise accordingly, out of interest who do you bank with?

If you can see your "available" funds you should find that includes this payment having been "reserved" ie you can't use that money, but if it's a small amount you may struggle to spot it. Again, this will vary by bank and how their internet banking system has been implemented.

I would expect this payment to debit your account the working day after you made it, or at worst the day after that. In theory with "faster payment" technology it could happened within 2 hours but not all banks implemented that system in the same way so delays can and do occur. If the retailer/merchant banks with the same bank you do, in theory the transaction could be instantaneous, again depending on the bank.

Short answer short, the transaction is fine, it won't be void, you just need to wait, probably a day or two.

This link has more info, especially useful if you bank with NatWest (as I say the technology is likely to vary by bank to some extent). Your own bank should have their own version of this.


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