Why Credit Card Processors Hold Funds

A Visual Breakdown of Fund Holds

Below is an animated presentation providing an overview of the reasons credit card processors and merchant account providers place holds on merchant funds. Please feel free to leave your questions and comments on the comment section below.


Why Credit Card Processors Place Holds on Merchant Funds

(Click the arrows on the bottom to move through the presentation)

Text Version

In case you are unable to see the presentation, or if you prefer reading, here is a summary:

Limiting Risk

Credit card processors place holds on funds primarily due to risk. This risk comes in three main forms: merchants closing accounts while still owing fees, chargebacks, and fraud. But how do these things cause risk for processors?

Processors Can Get Hung Out to Dry

The answer is simple, really: merchant accounts are not depository accounts like checking and savings accounts. Rather, they are considered a “line of credit.” Think of it like this: When a customer pays with a credit card, a bank is extending credit to that customer and making the payment on his/her behalf. Additionally, processors pay merchants before the banks collect from customers and are therefore extending credit to the merchant. Essentially, credit card processing companies act as middlemen between banks and merchants and accept responsibility for issuing debits and credits between the two. As middlemen, they can be left holding the bill if a bank is owed money but they are unable to collect from the merchant.

A Common Chargeback Scenario

For example, imagine that a merchant charges a customer for a large purchase (either legitimately or fraudulently). Shortly after the transaction the merchant goes out of business, or if a fraudulent company, disappears to never be seen again. Later, the customer disputes the charge, thereby initiating a Chargeback (in many cases, customers have up to 180 days to dispute a credit card charge.). Since the merchant no longer exists, the processor must pay the bank using its own money because it can’t collect from the merchant. In fact, Chargeback scenarios are one of the most common ways that processors suffer losses; however, merchant fraud is also a great concern.

Fund Holds Protect Processors From The Worst-Case Outcome

In summary, credit card processors place holds on merchant funds in order to shield themselves from the risk of chargebacks, to avoid suffering losses due to merchants conducting fraudulent transactions, and to ensure that they can pay fees that may not be recoverable due to a business closing. Other significant risk factors for a processor include an inability to deposit or withdraw fees from a merchant’s checking account, potential losses posed by high-risk business types, and transactions where the probability for Chargebacks or fraud is higher than normal.

[Related: “High Risk” Merchant Accounts Explained]

Keep in mind that each processor may have its own policies regarding what types of transactions it will hold and when/how long it will place holds. Some processors handle these situations well and others do not. If you feel that you are at a higher risk of experiencing holds, be sure to present your concerns with the processor prior to setting up an account.

Thank you for reading my review. I hope that it has helped you with your research.

Why I'm Qualified to Write About Credit Card Processing and Merchant Account Services

I'm a former credit card processing sales director who left the industry because I didn't like how it takes advantage of small business owners. It feeds like a leech on businesses and thrives by imposing fees that are nearly impossible to comprehend. Seeing a need for change, I left and built this website help business owners better understand the industry, research merchant services providers, and get refunds of excessive merchant account fees. My experience of working "behind the curtain" in the industry, and using that knowledge for good, has resulted in millions of dollars returned to hard-working small business owners as well as enterprise-level companies.

From the time that I starting working in the merchant services industry to when I left to create this website, I've been on the pulse of payments for nearly 15 years. It didn't seem fair to keep this "insider" knowledge to myself. To lift the fog, I've reviewed hundreds of companies, read thousands of user reviews, and learned the pricing tricks of every provider. If you have questions about credit card processing, you can find the answers on this website.

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37 Reviews Leave Your Review Below

  1. Avatara Qtub says:

    Cash app stole $3,940.00 from my card and there is no way to reach them. They do not have a phone number, they have no way to communicate with them except emails which they do not respond to.There does not seem to be be any recourse.I have sent emails and the only response was an email stating someone would get in touch with me but no one did.

  2. Tim S says:

    Your ” Visual Breakdown of Fund Holds” was well done. Simply put and conveyed all of the information I was looking for. Nice work.

    1. Brian Clark says:


      Thanks, glad it could be of help. In the event that your funda are being held this article can help you get them released.

  3. Eppie says:

    04/05/19 Had went to my bank for help to except credit card payment of 27,573.75 they had set me up with go clover and said it would work for that amount, & should have funds next day. Ran it 04/08/19 waited a few days. First Data security call and told me to refund or he would put a 180 day hold, I told him I could not do that so am stuck till 10/08/19 WTF legal loan sharks
    Funds for a big project HVAC units

    This post will help: Best Merchant Accounts for HVAC

  4. Tammy Boucounis- Greenpond Plants says:

    Never use First American Payment services. Not only will they put a hold on the credit card account in question, but they will put a hold on all of the income coming in. They threaten to hold the funds up to 180 days. We have had our business for 14 years and are highly successful. If our funds are not released, this will essentially shutdown our business. This is not right or fair. Our business completed the work and the customer paid using their personal credit card. This company has no grounds to hold the payment especially funds from other customers that have nothing to do with this transaction.

    This post will help: How to Make Your Payment Processor Release Your Money


  5. Igor says:

    I am a Tour Operator(Travel) based in Miami Beach and my business is seasonal with 2 peaks seasons. I recently ran several cards for quite some big amounts up to $20K from clients and I am supposed to pay my suppliers (hotels).
    However after a few days nothing appeared on my bank account and I have been told by the processor (Stellar system) my account is on hold and is being reviewed. Great news ! Now How, do I pay the suppliers ? I have about 50 persons arriving in a few days that paid their vacations and expect to be able to check in as it should be. In 9 years of activity I must have process no more than 5 refunds. So what do I do ? Is there a legal way to claim how abusive it is. I f I don’t get the money clients will sleep in the streets, I go bankrupt ? It just cannot and will not happen. Thank you for your time and/or advises.

    From The Editor
    This Post Might Help: How to Make Your Processor Release Your Money


    VEMNO IS HOLDING MY $2032. They claim this payment was a security risk the only money transferred in my account was $1.00 opening the account. 5/21/18 to this date 7/17/18. numerous emails and phone calls involved. I have a police report against them for fraud, my bank started a fraud investigation, and contacting the attorney generals office today. 7/17/18

    From The Editor
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  7. Lucy DeJesus says:

    Please contact me i would like tospeak to you about taking legal action. I dont know how but you are the 1000 person to have the same issue as me. They won’t give me my money either, they said they were holding it for fraud. Im a software developer! I am paid after my services so a chargeback makes no sense. It also seems that they are taking peoples money because if you’re not going to return the money back to my client or release it back to me. What are they doing with it? It doesn’t seem right for them to do this because they are not banks who are FDA insured. With banks personally, if this happens they would ensure both parties, right? but that’s, not the case here it seems that only the merchant gets screwed and ignored when it’s our money being stolen. Closing accounts while they still have your money is stealing!

  8. Robert Button says:

    I have a unique problem. I sold two gas stations this last May 8th.
    My company had a “Branding Agreement” with the company that delivered my fuel, lets call them (X). That agreement was to get transferred to the buyer and I forgot to include it, and the buyer does not want it.
    I accepted credit cards from my customers (at the pump and inside) they would go to Chevron, who in turn sent them to (X). (X) would then deduct the amount of fuel that they sold me, and send me the remaining balance.
    Between April 25th and May 8th they withheld all of my credit card receipts (which totaled $175,000.00). They admit that they did that, but says that because of my breach of contract they are allowed to.
    I am fighting the lawsuit because I do not believe it is valid.
    My question is, can they legally withhold those funds even prior to a judge making a ruling?
    There is no contract or even mention of this agreement (even within the branding agreement), it is just the way it is done, and is mutually understood.

    1. Lucy DeJesus says:

      Have you spoken to your bank?

      1. Robert says:

        No I haven’t because the bank did not really have anything to do with it other than to accept the ACH transfer, just like me making a deposit.
        However, Chevron and Tesoro companies have neglected to even talk to me, and they are the ones that have given this company the right to do the processing on their behalf.
        And you know oil companies, standing behind a wall of attorneys.
        I just cannot believe that they can do this, it is incredible that even the DA’s office of the State of Alaska cannot find any violation, and the Federal Trade Commission has never answered me.

  9. Aaron says:

    Flagship is holding over $3900 because we have an ongoing chargeback case on a completely different customer. Is this legal to hold our monies hostage? We’ve been in business over 5 years and NEVER had one chargeback until this incident. All of a sudden we cannot get our money and seem to have no real legal recourse. Waiting hours literally on the phone is a joke. What does the little guy do to fight these bums? Will threatening to call the BBB or my states Attorney General have any effect?

    1. Lucy DeJesus says:

      Have you report them to your bank?

      1. Cody Dotson says:

        Hi, I am a contractor and have been in buisnus for over 30yrs. And have had several different merchant accounts in the past and never have I been treated with such an unprofessional courtesy. I did a $5000 transaction 9 days ago and still haven’t received any funds at all and when I called after 5 days they said it was under review. I wasn’t give any notice about it being reviewed and they ask for my customers information and I gave them all his information and they told me the money should be in my account within 24hrs. We’ll 9 days now and still nothing not even a phone,call. My experience with national bankcard is VERY bad and as soon as this is resolved I’ll be taking my buisnus elsewhere. BEWARE OF NATIOAL BANK CARD OR THEY WILL HAVE YOU ALL SCREWED UP WITH YOUR BANK ACCOUNT.

  10. Shane says:

    I used flint merchant and they have went from a 2 to 7 to now a 90.day hold I’m a small business owner doing construction and have recently have several people ask me if I take credit/debit cards so I briefly looked into it not knowing all of this could happen but now I see why with my first 2 payments being over 2000 but I set them all the info they asked for and now there holding my funds for 90 days to see if there are any charge backs and after 90 days I will get whatever is left now know what a charge back I’s but I’m confused as to what will happen if a charge back does happen and if it can cost me money cause it sounds to me like there saying that I will be charged for any/all charge backs can anyone help me to better understand and maybe point me in the direction I need to headed thanks

  11. Zuzana says:

    Worse experience and nightmare with FIRST DATA! ever since started using their card processing services they have been putting funds on hold and investigate everything , as my business is growing we have recently generated 100k in sales a week and FIRST DATA has decided to keep 80k for 6 months in case of chargeback. We haven’t even had one charback ever since working with them but it looks like they want to manipulate with the funds and buy oil and gas while we have to figure out a way to service our clients and growing the company without the 80k. Simply ridiculous. !! Please don’t fall for first data. They don’t care about business growth in America. They simply hold money for no reason.

    1. Orlando says:

      Same exact problem here. 122k on hold from FIRST DATA … They have not contacted me back. It has been over 20 days!

      If anyone is going to sue, let me know.

      From The Editor
      This Post Might Help: How to Make Your Payment Processor Release Your Money

  12. Gary Lincoln says:

    Consumer Beware! Read the fine print!
    I too am being ripped off! Intuit “Go Pay” set my account up in minutes. They sent me a card reader and set my account with a $10,000.00 monthly limit. I am a Plumbing Contractor in business for 22 years now.
    I switched to “Go Pay” for the lower rates. I ran the first three transactions for a total just over $1,700.00 . Followed by a fourth for around $880.00. I recieved an E-Mail a few days later telling me they are holding my first transactions for fraud investigation. They asked for proof of sale and other info. I am not sure it is legal for me to send this info to them? Don’t my customers have the right to privacy? After waiting a few days, I realized I had to send this info if I wanted to get paid, So I did. A few more days and the fourth trans. went through for the $880.00 but still nothing on the first one. A week later and I ran one for around $100.00. Now its been 23 days since the first use of the card reader and no $1,700.00 or the $100.00 . I called Intuit and they said my money is now on a 270 day hold. I have repeatedly asked why and am only told they will not discuse the reasons. My account is now closed with them but they refuse to tell me anything. I asked if I could have my customers cancel their card transaction so I could get paid via check or other and they said sure. After asking one of my customers to do just that his bank said no, they will not cancel the charge without a vaild dispute. All the charges have cleared the card holders accounts but Intuit refuses to pay me until the 270 day window and even then they say it will be reviewed for (possible) payment. There has been no fraud, no charge backs, no nothing! I had a Merchant account with key bank for 8 years prior to this and never had a charge back, Not one! Not even a minor complaint! I have to say, This is wrong! There is a need for more regulation on these people. They get to hold your money for as long as they like without answering to anyone! I pay for the materials installed for my customers so I am out materials, labor, profit and sales tax. Since they are allowed to hold your funds, why are we not intitled to the interset they are gaining from this? After reading how many people they do this too, they must be making a killing on other peoples money! Consumer Beware! Read the fine print!

    1. Dondrell Swinger says:

      I fill you on this. I got over $1,600.00 on HOLD will PROPAY no-pay ass…

    2. Lucy DeJesus says:

      Im having the same issue and they wont give me my money. Im a software developer and to me what they are doing is fraud. Either return the money back to my client or release it because if they do neither they are basically keeping which is basically stealing it. Please tell me how I can contact you so we can take legal action. There was no fraud. I am paid after I complete my services not before so a chargeback in my business could never make sense.

  13. Lisza says:

    Holding account monies. I was told by all vendors including paypal that have held monies they can hold it up to 6 months to allow for chargebacks. It’s been over a year for me and I just got back monies of almost $4000 from 2 merchants. I am currently still fighting 2 more. They ignore you, i’ve gotten emails to people whose email accounts dont work, to contact in reference to my complaint, i’ve gotten oh let me check into that and call you back and it never happens. I’ve filed a complaint with my state consumer affairs office, First Data ignored them. Case closed so I had to hire a private attorney. I don’t think Suntrust/First data will respond to them either so I am also constantly calling to get resolve. This is ridiculous and I will be going to my state attorney’s office next. I think this needs to be escalated to a congressional look into these practices because most of they are not right. Alot of us are not committing fraud. Mr. Parker you told someone to let the merchant know how much they planned to process. Well I can’t remember if Square asks that question but all other merchants I have dealt with do. I told them, and if I made $1000 in a day or $2000 in a week I was shut down. They do not play by the rules except their own truly, and unless you or anyone has gone through this you can state what should be, but they are not running their business by what should be. Suntrust had the nerve to even 1099 me in 2013 for income I never received from sales in 2012, and now they are telling me owe we see you only have $1 left. Suntrust and Flagstar has kept my money for over a year until some kind of compliance fees came out. My monies should have been returned let alone have fees taken out on a closed account. That’s robbery. So now I guess I will have to go to my state attorney’s office and this has been going on since the end of 2012.

  14. Linda Sale says:

    Is it legal for a merchant to add a fee to a customer invoice who wants to pay by credit card?

    1. Hi Linda,

      The short answer is “yes,” but the fee can’t be more than what the merchant pays. For a more detailed answer see: Merchants Win Surcharge Battle – Here Are The New Rules

  15. Pedro Alcala says:

    Hello, We have a fully Licensed and bonded vacation travel company. We started operations 2 month a go and we are working with Authorize.net. after over $87,000 in sales we had 3 charge backs. They decided to hold the money from our creditb cards transactions tarting today because we are been investigated by the processor for fraud?? BS. They state that they have been receiving a large amount of calls in regards to our company, which is total false in my opinion (not sure). all i know is that we a serious company we are not fraudulent and we are starting a business venture for the first time and now this is going to affect our company in a way where we are not going to be able to cover our operations with our money on hold. How can i dispute this and solve the problem ASAP,


    Pedro Alcala

    1. Phillip says:

      Hi Pedro,

      Unfortunately, you give the processor the right to withhold funds for risk assessment purposes when you sign your merchant account agreement. The best action you can take is to contact the customers to inquire as to the reasons they filed a Chargeback request and ask them to retract their request. Once you have determined the reasons for Chargebacks, eliminate the problem so that you don’t get terminated by your provider. This is very important because once you have had a merchant account terminated by a provider, you risk being added to the Terminated Merchant File (also called the Match List). Getting added to the Terminated Merchant File can be a serious problem for your business as it could make it impossible to get credit card processing services from other providers without incurring extremely high fees.

  16. Jose Gamboa says:


    1. Phillip Parker says:

      Hi Jose,

      Check with your state’s Attorney General. The laws can vary by state.

  17. Felisza Nichols says:

    I have experienced this problem of making money and having funds held with 4 different times by, First Data, Intuit, Flagship. First Data is the processor to these providers and most of the providers out here. I have since filed a complaint with the Florida Dept of Agriculture and Consumer Affairs mediation division to mediate with First Data to get my monies back. Mr. Parker I’m sure you are just reporting what you know, but these companies practice unsavory business. There are thousands of these same complaints online and ones that have been mediated and settled so one needs to begin to raise an eyebrow. They hold these funds for any reason they want. We have been told various reasons and none of them make sense. I sell hair extensions. They knew when I signed u what my monthly gross could be because you have to give them a limit yet they still froze me and kept my money. I am a risk, really? Flagship told me if I gave my customers their product shipped it then gave them proof, they would release my monies. They haven’t and it’s been over 6 months ago. How can a small business person or any business owner stay in business this way. Intuit held my money and told me to tell my customers to file a complaint with their bank to get their money back. I had to come out of my pocket to buy $2000 worth of hair to keep from losing those customers and they still have my money. What’s worse is they sent me a 1099 so now I have filed taxes on income I haven’t received,and now have to fight to get it, so I will be also filing a complaint with the IRS. How many peoples monies do they still have who they gave a 1099 to pay taxes on. This is ridiculous and it’s time for something to be done. They are getting away with it. I advise people to contact your State Attorney General Office. They can investigate and proceed to shut them down, file a class action lawsuit etc. See if there is a Dept of Ag & Consumer Affairs office where you live. This is the State Agency not the USDA which is Federal and has nothing to do with consumer affairs. The state agency is who assists consumers with scams and monitoring of some industries within your state. If I can’t get First Data to mediate and pay me then I will have to hire a private attorney. More money spent to get what I have worked hard for. I will still be going to my State Attorney General to file a complaint and IRS. Nothing is being done about this because YOU are not doing anything about it. I don’t know about you all, but I am tired of bully’s and I want my money.

  18. Chris Jernigan says:

    I just used square for the 1st time ever and ran a $6,000+ transaction through it simply to make it easier for my customer knowing I am going to take the $240+ hit on the fee. Little did I know they would hold $4000 of the money until an undetermined amount of time? I also did not know there was no way for me to physically contact a human if there are any issues or problems. I am at the mercy for someone to check their inbox and contact me back. Business moves at a much faster pace than Square does. I am a small business just getting started and cannot afford to wait for Square to release my funds when they get around to it. I need it now. I would recommend square for small transactions but not for large transactions at all. Not unless you want to wait a month or more to get your money. It is a ridiculous process on their part. You would think they would want the larger transactions to gain more revenue. Their business model doesn’t reflect this though. I am in a real bind now to try to make my customer happy while waiting on Square to ” Square Up” ???? I have no idea if or when this is going to happen? Does anyone know of a better card reader type service that doesn’t have these issues?

    1. Phillip Parker says:

      Hi Chris,

      It’s doubtful that any provider, either mobile or otherwise, will allow you to run transactions of that amount without intervening. Generally speaking, almost all providers would require you to establish a cash reserve to protect themselves from fraud and chargebacks. Here is a list of our best credit card processors, but be sure to inform them of your need to large ticket transactions before you begin running transactions.

    2. Crystal McGuire says:

      Dont recommend for small transactions! I had a bunch of small transaction totaling around 600 within a couple of days and the said they were holding funds for up to 180 days incase of fraud! None of the individual charges were over 100dollars and yet to them it looked suspicious. More like they make tons of money keeping our profits from us the little guy and they seem to know we can do nothing about it. A class action needs to happen. There are thousands of complaints just like ours. They are stealing our money and claim we are the risk! Using Square is the real risk!

      From The Editor
      This Post Might Help: Best Mobile Credit Card Processors

  19. Sharon says:

    I have been processing with Summit Merchant Solutions and last year, they decided to start holding funds on some transactions over $1000. Then they make me fax them a copy of my contract for services along with the credit card slip. Then they contact my customer to prove the charge is valid.

    After watching the presentation, I am left wondering why my merchant account is holding funds on a regular basis. We have been in business for over 20 years. My parent company has been in business for 53 years. In the 5 years that I have been running this business, I have not had one chargeback or fruadulent charge to my account. I don’t know why Summit Merchant Solutions would consider my transactions as risky?

    We are in the event/wedding industry. We rent tables, chairs, canopies, dance floor, etc. for weddings & events. A typical order is in excess of $1000, yet they have my limit at a low $100 so any transaction over $100 can essentially be held until they veirfy the transaction is valid.

    We are a small business & only employ 1-3 people to help so I do not have time to prove charges each week to my merchant services company. I see that Summit has a D+ rating, however I think it should be a complete FAIL!!!

  20. Donald Lasker says:

    This is a week later and I still have no money I own New Start Thrift Shoppe, we get donations from the public and sell them in our store. we also clothe and more homeless Mothers and their kids. We have processed about $700.00 with Pay Anywhere and bottom line is they simply refuse to give us our money. 11 emails, countless conversations, 30 or so phone calls and about 15 emails FROM them, to no avail. looks like the big guy wins again, I just hope I can stop another Company from dealing with this very dishonest company.

    1. Jeff says:

      Donald. Had the same exact issue with the same company. I went through he application, underwriting, and had my account approved. Processed three transactions for just under $1000.00. After not receiving the funds for 5 business days, I contacted them and was told my business was considered high risk (Travel). I asked them, if they are not going to send the money to me, than please just refund my customers and I will just have to invoice them and receive another form of payment. They actually refused, they said “at this time we are not going to send the money to your account and we will not process any refunds to the cardholder for 180 days.” Seriously? So apparently they have a license to steal? I have no idea how they can be allowed to stay in business.

  21. Donald Lasker says:

    I have a Thrift Store raising funds to help homeless Mothers with kids. We processed about $700.00 with Pay Anywhere and they simply stole the money, have phoney reasons why they wont pay, such as the main one they use a lot “oh you have only two zeros in your account number and we have three. hey used this 11 times ib the last 10 days

  22. sandra says:

    If the marchant companey hold the funds then when i should i can axpect they clear my account or in which they not pay at all

    1. Phillip Parker says:

      Hi Sandra,

      Every company has different policies regarding the reasons they place holds and the length of time they place them. Generally, most will release holds within 30 to 90 days but, in some cases, the hold may last as long as 180 days.

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