partial authorization

A partial authorization (auth) occurs when a transaction is approved by the card issuing bank for an amount less than the original submitted amount of the transaction. When a partial auth occurs, the merchant will need to obtain a secondary form of payment to complete the transaction.

How does this apply to my business?

Although partial auths have been around for several years, it is only more recently that many popular POS systems and credit card terminals have incorporated partial auth capabilities into their systems. With the USA migration to EMV chip card technology, merchants are purchasing new equipment and updating software which may automatically enable the ability to support partial auths where it did not previously exist. It is important for merchants to train their staff to always pay attention to transaction receipts and terminal prompts to ensure purchases are fully tendered before the customer leaves your business.

How do partial authorizations work?

Let’s say your customer is making a $100 purchase and they are paying with a Visa® gift card that only has a $71.99 balance. If your POS system or credit card terminal does not support partial auths, when the transaction is processed you will receive a decline and will need to request another form of payment from your customer. If your system does support partial auths, you will receive an approval in the amount of $71.99 and your transaction receipt will indicate that a partial auth has occurred or a remaining balance is due in the amount of $28.01. In some credit card terminals, you will receive prompts that enable the clerk to decide whether or not to proceed forward with a partial auth transaction. If the clerk is quickly tapping “yes” through the terminal prompts without reviewing them carefully, it could be easy to miss the partial auth cues.

Partial auth procedures and terminology will vary by equipment and system. We encourage you to familiarize yourself with the process of submitting a partial auth through your system and then ensure your staff has proper training.

What if the customer wants to cancel the transaction?

In the event the customer decides not to complete the transaction, you can reverse the partial auth on the spot so that the card balance is immediately restored..

If you are not sure if your system supports partial auths or you need assistance, visit:

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