2 weeks ago, I had to pay 5 thousand USD from my visa card which was almost the total balance existing on it. The transaction was declined twice and then it got accepted after trying the 3rd time in a shop and got the approved receipt . The money was for sure deducted from my card as well because for the next two days I tried to use the card but no balance was available.

A few days later I was shocked to see the 5k back in my card as balance, I opened fast the statement to see what happened, and I discovered that the transaction of 5k is not existing at all, not as debit and not credit. Is this normal?!! What's going on? Did the shop take the money or is it just a bank error?? It's a big amount!


Presuming you received the merchandise or service... that sounds like the vendor did not Batch the transaction.


  1. Throughout the business day, the merchant electronically stores payment information for each authorized transaction. Each day’s set of stored transactions is known as a batch.
  2. At the end of the business day, the merchant sends the batch to the acquirer. The acquirer temporarily holds the batch in its own secure, electronic system. Since acquirers typically have thousands of individual merchant clients, they may store multiple batches according to their own needs and schedules.

Until that happens, it stays in Pending status in your account. After (typically) three days in Pending status, the transaction "ages off" of your credit card. Note that they can Batch it at any time later on, so suddenly it can appear Posted on your card.

Thus, it's very important to maintain US$5000 available credit until such time as it's posted. Big fat hassle, isn't it?


In addition to RonJohn's answer about why it doesn't show on your statement yet, I can explain why it may have gone through the third time after failing twice.

Under normal circumstances in the US, all transactions are sent to the bank immediately for authorization. In other countries (which have better EMV support and/or less always-on connections) have ways to approve a transaction without talking to the bank which are just as good as doing so, for the purposes of protecting the merchant from chargebacks and fees, and the customer from fraudulent charges. However, in the US, when that connection to the bank* is down, what's a merchant to do?

Depending on the industry, tolerance for risk, and other business factors, the merchant can choose to configure their POS to "go offline". In this setup, it simply records the transactions to replay later. In some industries, it's feasible to call the merchant's processor's voice authorization system and actually request authorization by reading the card number over the phone. In others, this is too involved a process, and they're just willing to accept the chance that the transaction won't actually go through, and so they just assume it will (most do).

Once the system comes back online, the authorization may be re-attempted, or it could simply show up in the end-of-day batch, at which point your bank won't know about it until they're asked to move your money.

So it could be that the POS, having failed to reach the bank twice, decided that it was offline and simply deemed the transaction approved. If this is the case for a $5000 transaction, I really hope the merchant knows and understands what their POS is doing...

* Technically, the transaction doesn't go straight to your bank. But it's a good enough approximation for this.


I can explain where the money may have gone, in addition to the above. Merchants are not required to turn in their charges immediately. They have 180 days from the date of sale to present the claim to their bank. While most places have switched over to electronic batching, manual transactions still exist. They are becoming increasingly uncommon, but they exist. Usually, it is triggered by small merchants. However, for $5,000 I find it strange that it did not post. If it was manually posted, it could have been posted to an incorrect cardholder. If that is the case, then it could be working its way through the dispute process as people try to work out who the correct cardholder was.

Although delayed charges are slowly vanishing, almost all post within five days, a fraction of a percent post months later and a fraction of a percent post for the wrong amount. Some types of places, such as restaurants that have tips, force manual encoding, and manual posting.

Finally, if this is for travel, the charges will not go through until the travel has actually happened, although even in travel there are exceptions. There are a handful of transaction types that will not finally post until the service date has arrived. It can even be broken up, so that if it could be thought of as many small charges, that it will appear as many small charges, such as daily room fees. There are some types of travel that tend to bill immediately, such as cruises, and others that delay the posting such as airlines and it is quite common for hotels to post late because you may rent a movie or break something. There are also places, such as car rentals, that charge a deposit up front, refund it when the vehicle has arrived and then charge a new charge for the rental fees.

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