Payment authorization and capture

When payment is captured, your customer is charged. By default, credit card payments and some additional methods of payment are captured automatically, but if it suits your business better, you can change your store setting to capture payments manually.

In the credit card payment process, payments are authorized and then they must be captured within an authorization period. Capturing a payment sends credit card information to the customer’s bank for processing.

Additional payment methods are processed differently than credit cards, but many providers support manual, as well as automatic, payment capture. If your store is set up to capture payments manually, but you add an additional payment provider that doesn't support manual payments, then payments will be captured automatically, not manually, on orders processed by that provider.

If you use Shopify Payments, another credit card payment provider, or providers for additional payment methods, then you need to decide how to capture payment from your customers. Payments can be captured in the following ways:

  • Automatically: the system captures payment at the time of sale or, in the case of additional payment methods, when the provider completes payment processing. Automatic payment capture is the default setting. This option saves you time when processing orders and is used by most merchants.
  • Manually: when an order's payment status is Authorized, you need to capture payment before you are paid for the order. Credit card payments must be captured within the authorization period. Capturing payment manually adds a delay and an extra step to your order processing workflow. You might set up manual payment for the following reasons:
    • Reviewing the fraud analysis of an order before deciding to capture the transaction or cancel the order.
    • Complying with an accounting standard that requires capturing payment upon fulfillment.
    • Complying with a local regulation that prescribes online merchants must offer at least one payment method that allows your customer to pay for the order upon delivery.

What is a credit card authorization period?

All credit card payment providers have an authorization period to allow a charge to be made to a customer's credit card. The authorization process first checks that the credit card is valid, and then that the card has enough funds on it for the transaction.

The authorization period will end after a certain amount of time. The length of the authorization period depends on your credit card payment provider. You need to capture a payment within the authorization period to collect money for your order.

Shopify Payments provides an authorization period of 7 days.

Extended authorization periods

Merchants using the Shopify Plus plan have extended authorization periods when certain credit cards are used at checkout.

Extended authorization periods differ, depending on the issuing bank of a credit card. Some cards might not support extended authorization periods, so you should monitor your Orders page for expiring authorizations.

Starting October 21, 2020, if you manually capture a payment after the standard seven day period, then a 1.75% charge will apply to the transaction in addition to standard credit card fees.

Authorization periods for different credit card providers.
Card type Authorization period
Visa Up to 30 days
Mastercard Up to 30 days
Discover Up to 10 days
JCB Up to 10 days
American Express 7 days
Diners Club 7 days
China Union Pay 7 days

If you have a payment that wasn't captured within seven days and you don't want to incur this fee, then cancel the order and create a new one. The authorization expiry date is displayed on the Orders page.

Set up automatic payment capture

Automatic payment capture is enabled by default for new stores. If you are capturing payment manually but want to change the setting for your store, then you can enable automatic payment capture.

When automatic payment capture is enabled, customers that pay with credit cards are automatically charged at the time of sale, and customers that pay with some additional payment methods are charged when the provider completes processing.

Steps:

  1. In the Payment capture section, click Manage.

  2. Select Automatically capture payment for orders.

  3. Click Save.

Set up manual payment capture

When manual payment capture is enabled, customers that pay with credit cards and some additional payment methods are not automatically charged at the time of sale. To get paid, you need to capture payment manually within the authorization period.

Enable manual payment capture if it suits your business better than automatic payment capture.

Steps:

  1. In the Payment capture section, click Manage.

  2. Select Manually capture payment for orders.

  3. Optional: If you use Shopify Payments and you want to receive emails before the authorization period for each order ends, then check Send a warning email when authorizations are close to expiring. If you select this option but you don't use Shopify Payments, then you won't receive warning emails.

  4. Click Save.

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