Pending vs. Posted Transactions: What’s the Difference?

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Pending vs. Posted Transactions: What’s the Difference?

When you review your debit and credit statements, you may notice that very recent transactions don’t share the same status as older ones: some appear as “pending” and others show up as “posted.”

Understanding the difference between the two can help you manage how much money you spend using your debit or credit cards.

What Is a Pending Transaction?

Pending means a transaction to withdraw money from or add money to your account has been submitted but isn’t complete.

The pending date may be referred to as a “transaction date,” which is part of a process that includes some back and forth between the place you made the purchase from and the financial institution that manages the credit or debit you made the purchase with.

Why this matters

If you’ve made a purchase with a debit card, you may think you have more money in your account than you do because the full amount of the transaction hasn’t been factored into your available balance.

If you’ve charged a purchase to a credit card, the time it takes to process the transaction could mean you won’t see the charge until later in your billing cycle, or even the next one.

What pending to posted looks like in a debit account

How a pending transaction becomes a posted transaction:

  • Your account balance is $500. You use your debit card to make a purchase of $100.
  • The transaction may feel like it’s over and done, since there’s a receipt that it happened, but it’s not complete: the funds haven’t necessarily been deducted from your account balance immediately.
  • You see a “pending transaction” for $100 on your account. This may reduce your available balance to $400.
  • Once your $100 transaction is approved by your financial institution the $100 is paid to the merchant’s account. This is considered a “cleared” transaction. The pending charge becomes a posted transaction and your actual account balance is reduced to $400.

Pending and Posted Amounts May Be Different

Now that you understand the difference between pending and posted transactions, it’s important to add one more piece to the puzzle. 

There are times when the amount of a pending transaction may differ from the amount that’s posted to your account. 

This is because there are times when merchants may pre-authorize an amount before the transaction’s complete. For example, when you purchase gas, the station might pre-authorize your account for $1. If so, you would only see a $1 pending transaction on your checking account or card. But once your payment clears, the final amount posted would reflect how much money you actually spent on gas.

This same thing can happen if you add a tip at a restaurant; the pending transaction will usually show the pre-tip total, while the posted transaction will reflect the bill plus the tip you added.

Why tracking pending and posting matters

Knowing what’s pending and what’s posted can help you keep track of your finances, and possibly help you avoid over-drafting an account or maxing out a credit card.

Keeping paper receipts may help (particularly if you suspect that a posted transaction may differ from a pending transaction amount) but that’s just one strategy: apps and spreadsheets may also help, as can your phone – you can snap a photo of your receipts.

This record-keeping can also be helpful if you have to a dispute a merchant charge for an amount more than what you authorized – you literally have the receipts to prove your point.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for individualized professional advice. Individuals should consult their own tax advisor for matters specific to their own taxes and nothing communicated to you herein should be considered tax advice. This article was prepared by and approved by Marcus by Goldman Sachs, but does not reflect the institutional opinions of Goldman Sachs Bank USA, Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. or any of their affiliates, subsidiaries or division. Goldman Sachs Bank USA does not provide any financial, economic, legal, accounting, tax or other recommendation in this article. Information and opinions expressed in this article are as of the date of this material only and subject to change without notice.  Information contained in this article does not constitute the provision of investment advice by Goldman Sachs Bank USA or any its affiliates. Neither Goldman Sachs Bank USA nor any of its affiliates makes any representations or warranties, express or implied, as to the accuracy or completeness of the statements or any information contained in this document and any liability therefore is expressly disclaimed.