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.
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.
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.
How a pending transaction becomes a posted transaction:
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.
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.