We may earn a commission from links on our site, but this doesn’t affect our reviews. Advertiser Disclosure

How to Cancel a Pending Transaction

Last Updated on February 26, 2024

James Headshot
Written by
Table of Contents
Disclaimer: This is not a validation of cryptocurrency or any particular provider, service, or product. It should not be taken as advice to engage in trading or use any services. Please check our terms and conditions.

Quick Answer:

Investing in cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum involves various payment methods, including traditional financial institutions. If you’re looking to cancel a pending crypto transaction, it’s only possible before confirmation; once confirmed, it’s irreversible. Check transaction status using the transaction ID on blockchain explorers.

Pending transactions on credit or debit cards are tricky to cancel and are best addressed by contacting the recipient directly to release the hold. For PayPal, pending transactions can often be canceled from the account’s “Activity” section or by requesting the recipient to deny the funds.

Canceling unconfirmed crypto transactions can be done through the replace-by-fee (RBF) protocol or by double-spending with a higher fee. Always double-check transaction details before confirming to avoid the need for cancellation, and remember that disputing finalized transactions is more feasible than canceling pending ones.

As the popularity of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) is rising, more and more individuals and organizations alike are looking to invest in crypto assets. You can buy Crypto in several different ways, and it typically includes paying for it through financial institutions — banks or other organizations that handle payments.

Suppose you’re interested in buying crypto but also somewhat cautious or insecure about the whole process for any reason. In that case, you might also be interested in the possibility of canceling crypto transactions. While canceling pending payments isn’t always possible — and when it is, it’s usually not a simple process — it can happen under very specific circumstances.

This article will discuss how you can cancel a pending transaction and in what situations. Read on to learn more about canceling transactions with different payment methods and how this applies specifically to pending crypto transactions.

crypto Investor holding phone using laptop

What Are Pending Transactions?

You can get a pending transaction on your bank account immediately after you initiate a payment with a credit card or a debit card (such as Visa or Mastercard) linked to this account. After you initiate a card transaction, the pending charges show up on your bank statement, affecting the available balance on your account. 

When a cardholder initiates a card payment, the entity that’s getting paid — usually a business that the cardholder buys from — sends a charge to their card. This charge cycles between the card issuer, the business, and the payment networks.

The cycle in which the charge gets processed can take some time, ranging anywhere from several moments to several business days (and even more if something goes wrong with the transaction). The amount the cardholder pays remains unclaimed by the business during this time. 

In other words, while the charge cycles, the cardholder’s transaction is still pending. When the amount paid actually reaches the business, the transaction gets posted on the cardholder’s account and is no longer pending.

Transactions can also appear as pending during pre-authorization charge periods. Pre-authorization occurs when certain businesses (typically hotels) place temporary holds on a customer’s account that last for several days prior to providing them a service.

During this period, the customer’s account balance is affected, and they see a pending transaction. At this point, the customer doesn’t have the authorisation to use the funds that the business withholds, and they can’t access them when making ATM withdrawals, even though they haven’t been debited. 

Canceling Credit / Debit Card Transactions

You might try to cancel payment for a credit or debit card transaction for several reasons. However, when you have pending transactions of this type, there’s typically a hold on your card, which makes it extremely difficult (if not impossible) to cancel the scheduled payment.

In such situations, it’s best to contact the entity that’s supposed to receive your funds while your transaction is still pending. Since this entity places the hold, they can also ask for its release.


Otherwise, asking the card issuer to cancel a pending transaction is not the best idea because they usually can’t change it until it’s finalized. With that said, you stand a better chance at disputing your transaction once it’s already been posted instead of trying to cancel it while it’s still pending. Most card issuers (such as banks) are obliged to look through the transactions you dispute and act upon your request in a timely manner.

Canceling PayPal Transactions

Pending transactions can also appear if you use other payment methods when initiating payments. For instance, if you use your PayPal account for making online purchases, you can also see a pending transaction after making an order, which affects your PayPal account balance.

Pending transactions on PayPal typically appear when you send funds to an entity that doesn’t have a verified email and/or phone number on their PayPal. In this case, canceling a pending transaction is fairly straightforward — you just have to navigate to your account’s “Activity” option and cancel it from there.

Your transaction may also show as pending on PayPal if you’re making a payment to someone who doesn’t automatically accept it. If this is the case, you’ll have to contact this user and ask them to deny the funds you’ve sent them in order to cancel the transaction. If they don’t deny it and accept it instead, you’ll, unfortunately, have no way of canceling it.

Canceling Crypto Transactions

When it comes to crypto transactions, you can only cancel them when they haven’t been confirmed yet, but once they get confirmed they can’t be reversed. You can check whether a transaction has been confirmed with a crypto transaction ID on the blockchain.com website.

The process of canceling an unconfirmed crypto transaction depends on the type of crypto you’re trading, and sometimes on the crypto exchange and crypto wallet you might be using.

Visualizing Blockchain

Typical strategies for canceling such transactions include replacing the transactions with other ones, usually through the replace-by-fee (RBF) protocol, which is supported by some of the crypto wallets in widespread usage. If you’re unable to use this protocol, you can also try overriding your unconfirmed transaction by double-spending and incurring a higher fee. 

A Few Words Before You Go…

Canceling a pending transaction, while feasible in certain specific situations, is not always easy. When initiating transactions, always make sure you double-check all the details before you confirm them, as canceling them afterward may turn out to be extremely tricky even while they’re in the pending phase — and usually impossible after they’re finalized.

With that said, you may still want to cancel pending transactions for some reason, especially when they’re unexpected or done by mistake. There’s always the possibility to contest finalized transactions, too, which is usually more likely than canceling pending transactions.

We hope this article helps you understand when you can cancel credit and debit card and PayPal transactions. Also, bear in mind that specific mechanics exist for canceling unconfirmed crypto transactions, too.

About The Author

James Headshot
Written by

Crypto Technical Writer

James Page, previously the lead writer at Crypto Head and a registered psychologist, brings a unique perspective to the world of blockchain and cryptocurrency.

His extensive experience in the industry and ability to present complex concepts in an understandable manner make his articles a valuable resource for readers seeking to navigate the ever-evolving crypto landscape.

Check James out on: