In most cases, purchases on issued cards begin with an authorization. As soon as it’s approved, it’s captured and a transaction is created to represent the movement of the authorized amount of money. However, there are cases where something else happens, as described below.
Some merchant categories (including airlines, cruise lines, or railway merchants) may authorize a transaction and then capture funds multiple times, corresponding to multiple purchases over time. This results in the creation of multiple
issuing_authorization.updated webhook events and multiple transactions. You can dispute any captures that don’t correspond to a legitimate purchase.
Certain types of merchants who don’t know the final transaction amount at the time of authorization (including vehicle rentals, bars and restaurants, and ground transportation) can authorize a transaction for an amount and then capture funds greater than that amount.
For example, a restaurant often authorizes a charge for the bill amount and then captures an amount that includes the tip. In some cases (as in this case), the authorized amount is a relatively close estimate of the amount to be captured. In other cases (e.g., ground transportation), the authorized amount is typically a minimal amount, whereas the captured amount reflects the actual journey taken by the cardholder.
Any merchant can capture an amount less than the amount that has been authorized. As a result, a transaction may show an amount less than that of its linked authorization.
Merchants may capture a transaction despite receiving a declined authorization, or even without an authorization at all. In either case, transaction objects are created, and the captured amount is debited from your balance and sent to the merchant. If no authorization was requested, the transaction objects won’t have a linked authorization object.
Sometimes, these may correspond to legitimate purchases. In other cases, these may in fact be unauthorized purchases or fraudulent behavior. It is up to you (or your cardholder) to recognize when this is the case and dispute the transaction when appropriate.
An example of a legitimate transaction without an authorization is a payment on an airplane. The terminals used on airplanes are usually not connected to the internet. In that case the terminal will send the transaction in the form of a forced capture when it connects to the internet some time after the flight. Although there is no way to decline those transactions, there are limits set on the card to control how much can be spent this way.
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