A Guide to Credit Card Transactions
Oct 11, 2022 By Susan Kelly

You enter a shop. It's a purchase that you make. Simply inserting or swiping your credit card through the machine will complete your transaction. Have you ever wondered how exactly a credit card payment is processed? You, the retailer, the payment handler, the acquirer, and also the granting bank are all involved in the chain of events leading up to the successful completion of a transaction. Listed below is the precise procedure followed by credit card transactions.

Credit Card Transaction

Using a credit card at a store's payment terminal or online shopping cart constitutes a credit card transaction. In-store methods include inserting, tapping, and swiping cards, while internet and telephone methods include keying in payment information. In a matter of seconds, the payment is reviewed and either accepted or declined.

The Inner Workings of Credit Card Transactions

A credit card purchase is a lengthy process. The cardholder, the retailer, the payment handler, the acquiring institution, and the authorizing bank all play important parts in the payment process.


Your part in processing a credit card payment is easy to explain: A simple touch, swipe, or insert of your card into the terminal at checkout is all it takes to acquire your purchase, be approved, sign the receipt, and walk out the door.


The merchant's bank, sometimes referred to as the acquiring financial institution, is called once you insert your credit card into the payment gateway to request authorization for the transaction. The merchant bank then confirms the transaction with the credit card company. The transaction processing system then uses electronic communication with the credit card provider to verify the validity of the card and the existence of sufficient funds to cover the purchase.

If everything is okay and you have sufficient credit left, the issuing bank will then transmit the verified data directly to the acquiring bank via the credit card system, where it will be received by the merchant and used to complete the transaction. After doing so, the consumer signs the receipt, yet, the buyer still has not paid the seller. At the conclusion of each business day, the retailer submits a list to its bank detailing each of the day's card payments; this is called batch processing. The financial institution then routes the list to the appropriate payment processor, resulting in a deposit to the store bank.

Payment Processor

Payment processors are the link between merchants and banks. The payment processor validates transactions made with credit cards and then transfers money to the merchant so that they may be paid. Well-known payment processors like PayPal, Stripe, and Shopify Commerce collect customer credit card data, transmit it, and then deliver it to the company.

Acquiring bank

Payments from customers' credit card purchases are sent to the vendor's bank account via the acquirer. The acquirer & card processor are occasionally the same if a merchant employs American Express simultaneously as an acquiring financial institution and credit card handler, Amex functions as both.

Financial Institution That Issues

Your payment card company will notify the store with a unique authorization number to complete the purchase. Your credit card company has to know the whole number, expiry date, billing address, CVV code, and total before authorizing the transaction. The financial institution will either grant you financing or deny your application. Your issuing bank will deduct an interchange charge, which will be split along the credit card company if your transaction goes through. The monies are then transferred, usually within three business days. The retailer will not know the reason your card was denied. Therefore you should call the card's issuer right once.

How Much Time It Takes To Process a Credit Card Payment

You are required to sign for your purchase before leaving the shop in order to complete a credit card transaction; nevertheless, the money for your purchase is just approved and is not really given to the business. The permitted purchase may immediately appear as a waiting charge instead of a cleared charge and be taken from your existing credit if you check the account online or via your issuer's application. Sometimes the charge won't show up for a few days. Your bill at a sit-down restaurant may simply show the pending charge before the gratuity is included. Your total bill will reflect the tip when the transaction is finalized, and the tip is placed into the system.

Can an already-processed Transaction Be Canceled?

After a charge has been flagged as "pending" on the account, it may remain in that status for a few more days only in particular instances the merchant decides to reverse or alter the transaction, such as by including an authorized tip. However, until the merchant provides the bank a release stating that it won't be receiving the pending payments, a bank cannot effectively refuse a pending transaction.

Processing Costs for Credit Cards

Credit card costs differ for merchants. Merchant discount costs are included and normally range from 2 percent to 3 percent of the overall transaction amount. Both the assessment fee (also known as a "swipe cost"), which is calculated as a proportion of every credit card company's monthly net sale prices, as well as the interchange costs (a proportion of each transaction's value that is subtracted from the trader's total and compensated to the issuing bank), are included in the trader's cost. Between 76 percent & 80 percent of all processing fees are made up of interchange & assessment costs. Markup expenses that acquiring financial institutions & processors often charge to recoup transaction costs and make a profit account for the remaining 20 percent to 26 percent of the processing costs.

In Conclusion

So now you are familiar with the fundamentals of credit card operations and the charges that come with them. While you do not have to be a specialist on credit card transactions, it might be helpful to grasp the intricate procedure and costs that go into the final amount.

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