What is an authorization?
When you make an online purchase using your Venmo account, the merchant will authorize your account for the amount of your purchase. This is called a merchant authorization, and it allows the merchant to ensure that your Venmo account is open and working. Think of it like a pending charge on a credit card statement - you might notice an amount deducted from your available balance when an authorization is made, but it isn’t fully posted to your statement yet.
What is a merchant capture?
Funds will not be transferred to the online merchant until they finalize the transaction and capture the final amount. A merchant capture is the equivalent of finalizing a pending charge on a credit card statement - it causes funds to move from you to the merchant. Once a merchant captures an authorization, you’ll see the purchase finalized in the Transactions tab in your personal transactions feed (the “$☰” icon to the right of your friends feed) for the final amount.
Why was the final amount (capture) different than the initial authorization?
There may be a difference between the amount that you see when you initially make an online purchase (authorization) and the final capture amount. Think about it this way - when you go out for dinner and receive the check - the restaurant will charge your card (authorization) for an amount that’s higher than your bill total to account for a tip, which will impact your available balance while the authorization is pending. Once you’ve signed and added a tip, the restaurant will capture the final amount a couple of days later and you’ll see that finalized amount reflected on your statement. This final amount may be different from the original authorization amount.
Why is my balance less than expected before the online payment is finalized?
If you have access to a Venmo balance, here's what you can expect:
Right after you make an online purchase (authorization), all or part of your Venmo balance will be held until the purchase is finalized (captured) by the merchant. If your Venmo balance exceeds the amount of your purchase, your balance will be reduced by the authorized amount to account for this hold. This is to ensure that there are enough funds to cover the purchase once it is finalized. However, if your purchase is for more than what is available in your balance, your entire balance will be held while waiting for the purchase to be captured. This means that your balance may display as $0 until the final purchase amount is captured. Any held balance amounts that exceed the final purchase amount will be made available within 30 days of completion of the transaction.
Why do I see multiple transactions in Venmo for a single purchase?
Most purchases involve an initial authorization hold for the estimated total amount of your purchase, followed by a final capture wherein the total is finalized. When this happens, funds are transferred to the merchant, and the transaction is completed.
Some purchases allow the merchant to capture smaller parts of the total at different times, like when two items ship separately. In this scenario, the transaction is completed only when the final capture is submitted by the merchant. When this happens, the larger authorization hold will be released back to your account.