Partial Authorization

Partial Authorization

A partial authorization occurs when a payment card authorization is attempted for a transaction and there are not enough funds available in the account to cover the full amount. The issuer returns an authorization for the amount available in the account, leaving the merchant to obtain an additional form of payment from the customer for the balance.

Partial authorizations result in fewer declined transactions at the point-of-sale. Additionally, in the case of prepaid gift cards, the issuer returns a card balance (printed on the receipt) for the cardholder’s convenience.

Partial Authorization Specifics

Mastercard® and Discover® require processors to support partial authorization transactions on debit and prepaid cards. To simplify this mandate for our merchants, TSYS® supports partial authorization transactions on all card types, including Visa® and American Express®.

The receipt below shows a partial authorization for a Discover card purchase of $71.99 on a $100 purchase. It also indicates (in bold type) an amount due of $28.01, which you would collect from the customer to complete the sale:

Partial Author Receipt

In this case, you would need to inform the cardholder of the partial authorization and request the $28.01 balance through some other form of tender, such as cash, check or another payment card.

As a merchant, it’s important that you pay close attention to the authorization message and receipts that are returned at the point of sale. If a partial authorization is returned, you must collect another form of payment for the remaining amount you are owed; otherwise, you will lose money on the sale.

Partial Authorization Reversal

In the event that partial authorization is issued and the cardholder does not have another form of payment to cover the amount due — or they choose to use a different form of payment for the full amount — a partial authorization reversal must be performed to free up the funds that were previously held by the authorization.

For example, in the case illustrated above, if the cardholder doesn’t have $28.01 in another payment form — or wants to reverse out the $71.99 to use another card for the full $100 purchase — they can request that you do a reversal of the partially authorized amount of $71.99, and you would be expected to comply.

Partial Authorization Support

If you process with TSYS and your current terminal does not support partial authorizations, we can update it and train you in its use.

TSYS’s payment gateway supports the partial authorization mandate. If you are using software or a gateway provided by another vendor you should confirm with them that they support the mandate.

Contact TSYS Service and Support representatives at 800.654.9256 with any questions you have about partial authorizations and reversals.

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