What Does a Pending Transaction Mean?

by Fraser Sherman
An ATM transaction may go through immediately -- or not.

When you pay in cash, the deal is done as soon as the money changes hands. Many other transactions today, however, are more complex: between checks, debit cards and online money transfers, you may have hundreds of dollars coming into or out of your financial account. If the bank has received the data but hasn't processed it, the transaction is said to be "pending."

Keeping Track

Different banks handle pending transactions differently. Some include pending transactions in your account balance, others don't. If you have, say, a $250 pending transaction that doesn't show up in your balance yet, you really have $250 less to spend than your balance statement says. When you deposit money, there are laws with regard to how long the bank can take to process the transaction. That ensures added cash won't be pending for too long before you can get the money.

About the Author

A graduate of Oberlin College, Fraser Sherman began writing in 1981. Since then he's researched and written newspaper and magazine stories on city government, court cases, business, real estate and finance, the uses of new technologies and film history. Sherman has worked for more than a decade as a newspaper reporter, and his magazine articles have been published in "Newsweek," "Air & Space," "Backpacker" and "Boys' Life." Sherman is also the author of three film reference books, with a fourth currently under way.

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