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 your transaction history in the Purchases tab in your app 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 charges on my Venmo account from a merchant when I only made one purchase?
This typically occurs if you make one purchase that contains multiple items. Merchants handle these kinds of orders differently.
For example: Let’s say you place one order for two different $25 items, so the total purchase is $50. In some instances, the merchant will place an initial authorization on your Venmo account for the total purchase amount ($50). Then, as items ship, the merchant will create new transactions for each item, which can look like new or different charges. Eventually the original authorization ($50) should be canceled, but the individual charges will complete. Until the original authorization is canceled, multiple may appear on your Venmo account or statement simultaneously as pending.
In other cases, the original authorization amount may change to reflect the prices of the individual items as they are shipped.
Most importantly: When things settle (and all your items are shipped/delivered), the charge or charges that complete should equal the amount you paid for the purchase. Any additional charges or authorizations should be canceled. Ultimately you will have been charged the correct total amount.
In these cases, we recommend reaching out directly to the merchant to confirm what’s happening. Some users feel concerned when they see multiple charges and suspect fraudulent or unauthorized activity, but typically in situations like these the merchant can clear things up. If you’re ever concerned about unauthorized activity on your Venmo account, please contact us, but keep in mind we can only open disputes on payments that have settled/completed (and not on payments that are still pending).