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What are the differences among the Checkout payment actions?

Checkout offers three payment options:
  • Authorization
  • Order
  • Sale
Use the Authorization option to place a hold on funds. When you submit an authorization, you're asking PayPal to check whether the funds are available. Find out more in our Developer Documentation on Authorization & Capture
You can use the Order option when you do or don't have all the items from the buyer's cart in stock or readily available. As with an authorization, an order is valid for 29 days, but the main difference is that the order doesn't place a hold on the funds. Instead, it lets you place a hold via an authorization later.
  • Using an Order has the advantage of not placing funds on hold for a period of time (depending on the issuing bank).
  • In some cases, you may not want to hold funds on your customers' credit cards, as you might not be shipping the item for a longer period.
  • By default, the valid period for an Order is 29 days. To extend this period, you must contact PayPal Business Support or your Account Manager. To get the Business Support phone number, log in to your PayPal account and click Contact Us.

Here's an example of using the Order option:
  1. A buyer comes to your site, adds two items to his cart, and checks out via PayPal Checkout.
  • Item A has a price of $15 and is currently in stock.
  • Item B has a price of $25 and is on backorder for three weeks.
  1. The buyer goes through the payment process and sets up an order for $40.
  2. The PaymentAction field in both the SetExpressCheckout and DoExpressCheckoutPayment API calls is set to Order.
  3. Because Item A is in stock, you process that part of the order by doing a $15 authorization before shipping Item A the next day. When you run DoAuthorization on the order for $15, you place that amount on hold. Before it ships the following day, you'd capture that Authorization ID for $15.
  4. Three weeks later, Item B is in stock. You begin processing the rest of the order by running a DoAuthorization for $25 and placing that amount on hold.
  • If the authorization succeeds, you continue internal processing of the order by capturing the payment before shipping Item B the next day.
  • If the authorization fails, the funds are unavailable from the buyer's funding source selected through PayPal. You must contact the buyer to resolve the issue.
  1. The Order is closed after the $40 is captured. Because an Order holds no funds, you don't have to worry about the customer calling you about a hold if you capture less than the Order amount.

Note: To do multiple Authorizations per Order, contact your Account Manager or PayPal Business Support to apply for this feature. To get the Business Support phone number, log in to your PayPal account and click Contact Us.

With the Sale option, PayPal processes the payment without holding funds. The funds transfer from the buyer's funding source to your PayPal account balance immediately.
  • You can use the Sale option for something that's delivered quickly, such as Digital Goods or a product that ships as soon as you receive the order.
  • PayPal immediately pulls the funds from the buyer's funding source and sends them to your PayPal account balance.
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