Why Is My PayPal Payment Pending?

By Jack Gerard

PayPal is one of the more popular online payment methods available, claiming to have over 94.4 million users worldwide. Though PayPal is often used to make instant funds transfers and online payments, not all transactions go through immediately. When there is a delay in the processing of a PayPal transaction, the site reports the status of the transaction as "Pending" until payment processing is complete.

Pending Payments

Some forms of payment cannot be processed instantly when sent from a PayPal account. Payment options such as PayPal eChecks require some or all of the payment amount to be transferred from a checking account or other bank account before the payment can be completed. The transfers required for these payments generally take up to five days to complete, leaving the payment processing until the transfer is complete. Once the transfer is finished, the payment is processed normally.

Transactions Pending Acceptance

When money is sent to an individual who does not have a PayPal account, the transaction is listed as pending until the individual signs up with PayPal and claims the payment. Other situations, such as purchases that require the recipient to manually accept the order, will also list the sent payment as pending until it is accepted. Pending transactions that are not accepted within 30 days of being sent are automatically canceled and will need to be sent again if the payment is still required.

Pending Refunds

If a seller or other individual needs to issue a refund on payments that have been sent previously, the refund transaction may appear as pending when it is first processed. Refunds of previous transactions list themselves as pending if the individual issuing the refund does not have the full refund amount in her PayPal account; the remainder of the refund amount is transferred from a linked bank account. The refund transaction remains pending until the bank transfer completes, a process that can take up to five business days.

Canceling Pending Payments

Pending payments can be canceled by the sender if he no longer wishes to make the payment or wants to attempt to send a different payment type. Payments are canceled by logging into your PayPal account, locating the pending payment in the PayPal transaction history and clicking the "Cancel" option under the payment's status field. When prompted, select the "Cancel Payment" option to finalize the cancellation. Transactions cannot be canceled once the payment is complete; a refund must be requested to undo a completed payment.