Why are your funds unavailable or on hold? And what can you do about it?

Jun 27 2018 | PayPal editorial staff

Most businesses will experience a time when their funds become unavailable, also known as a payment hold.
In this article, you’ll learn more what a payment hold is, why it happens, and how to resolve it.

What does it mean when funds are unavailable, or on hold?
PayPal may place a payment hold - for usually 21 days or less - in case there’s an issue with your order. When a payment hold is placed on your account, the money still belongs to you and once we get confirmation your buyer received the item they ordered in the condition promised, the funds will be available for withdrawal.

Why could your funds be temporarily unavailable?
We may place reserves, limitations, and other holds on your account (you can read more about them in our User Agreement), but here are some of the reasons why we might place a hold on your account.
  1. You’re a first-time seller. When you’re a new PayPal seller, it takes time to build up enough history to demonstrate a pattern of positive buyer-seller transactions. The good news is you can usually move out of this status by confirming your identity and building up a history of positive selling activity.
  2. You haven't sold in a while. When your selling activity has been dormant for a long time, it will also take time to rebuild a history of positive buyer-seller transactions.
  3. Multiple customers filed for a refund, dispute or chargeback. If multiple customers file for a refund, dispute, or chargeback, it can delay the availability of your funds. The best way to resolve this is to work directly with your customers to prevent, or solve, disputes and chargebacks. Sometimes it’s possible that your customer filed for a refund, dispute or chargeback because someone illegally used their PayPal account to buy something. We ask that you hold off on shipping any items when this happens.
  4. Your selling pattern appears unusual or changed. An unusual sales activity includes: a recent spike in sales or a change in your average selling price, business platform or type of item being sold.
  5. You’re selling higher risk items. Higher risk items can include tickets, gift cards, consumer electronics, computers, and travel packages. 
You can also read our User Agreement for more information on other holds and reserves we may place on your account.
How long PayPal holds your funds for.
By default, your funds will be held for 21 days. However, there are several things you can do to expedite this timeline.

What you can do to access your money sooner.
Assuming there are no issues with the order, you may be able to expedite the release of temporarily unavailable funds sooner than the scheduled 21 days by taking any of these actions from your PayPal account:
ActionTime to releaseWhat you need to do
Print a USPS or UPS shipping label3 days after deliveryPrint a USPS or UPS shipping label from your PayPal account. This will automatically update your tracking information and delivery confirmation.
Add tracking information3 days after delivery with supported carriers. See chart below for supported carriers.Upload a supported carriers’ tracking number. PayPal will release the payment within three days of the carrier confirming delivery.
Notify your buyer to confirm the orderImmediately after a buyer’s confirmationUpload a tracking number or print a shipping label. Then, we'll send an e-mail to your buyer asking them to confirm receipt of the item listed on their transaction details page.

PayPal Supported Carriers:
CountryShipping Carriers
CanadaCanada Post, UPS
GermanyDeutsche Post, DHL Express, DHL Packet, DPD, Hermes, UPS
ItalyDHL, Post Italiano, UPS
SpainCorreos, DHL, GLS
United KingdomCollect+, DHL Express, FedEx, Parcel Force, Royal Mail, UPS, Yodel
United StatesDHL Express, DHL Global Mail, UPS, USPS

How can you prevent the delay of available funds?
There are four things you can do to help prevent a delay of available funds in the future:

1. Review the email we send and the alert in your account overview.

2. If a buyer pays you and the payment isn’t immediately available, we’ll notify you via an email titled “An important message about your PayPal balance” or via an alert in your Account Overview page. This email or alert will be the best source of information about why your payment isn’t available and what you may be able to do to prevent the delay of available funds in the future.

3. Prevent refunds, disputes, and chargebacks by:
  • Setting yourself up for success by posting actual photos and detailed, accurate descriptions of items so buyers know exactly what they’re getting.
  • Being clear about shipping and handling time, costs, and methods; process orders promptly to avoid delays.
  • Packing items carefully with appropriate, quality packing material, so customers receive the items in good condition.
  • Uploading tracking information of our supported carriers or printing a USPS/UPS shipping label through PayPal.
  • Clearly defining your return policy upfront to avoid problems later.
4. Communicate and work with your customers.
  • When customers contact you, do your best to be responsive and helpful. Working with customers early on can prevent a minor issue from ballooning into a much larger problem, and following the guidelines listed previously will help to reduce the number of buyer disputes, claims, and chargebacks. If you are involved in a buyer dispute, start working to resolve it right away. Frequent, honest, and open communication with the buyer via the Resolution Center can help clear up any misunderstanding.
5. Set up a customer service message.
  • Also, setting up a customer service message in the Resolution Center may help to prevent disputes. For example, if shipments will be delayed because of a hurricane in your region, letting the buyer know may answer their question and make a dispute unnecessary.
Selling on eBay.
If you sell on eBay, take a look at these eBay-specific tips for managing your seller performance rating.

The contents of this site are provided for informational purposes only. You should always obtain independent, professional accounting, financial, and legal advice before making any business decision.

Frequently asked questions.

It’s your money – you should be able to access it quickly and easily. PayPal Here makes it simple to transfer funds from your PayPal account to your bank account:
  1. On the home screen, tap the Settings icon, then Sales Activity.
  2. Your balance will be displayed at the top of the screen (this may include pending transactions as well).
  3. Tap Transfer Funds.
  4. Select your bank and enter the amount you’d like to transfer to your bank account.
  5. After you’ve reviewed the details, tap Transfer. You’ll see a confirmation screen when the transaction is complete.
Transfers typically take 3-5 business days to be available for withdrawal. For instant access to your cash, you can sign up for the PayPal Business Debit MasterCard.
Here is how you can view your transactions for your PayPal Business Debit MasterCard:
  1. Select PayPal Business Debit MasterCard on the left hand side of your PayPal account (directly under your balance).
  2. Your recent transaction history will be listed on the right side. Additional details regarding your Business Debit MasterCard transactions are available by selecting a particular transaction.
You can also view details including a running balance by selecting the ‘completed’ option on the right side of the PayPal account.

You can view the last month of debit card activity from your PayPal transaction Summary page. If you’d like to see all your PayPal payments, or more than the last month of activity, you can view those from your PayPal account Activity. You can also print your statements by selecting Reports at the top of the page, then click Statements on the left side of the page.

Withdrawal statuses:
  • Pending - A debit card purchase can be Pending because of these reasons:
    • It takes between 1-5 days for funds to move from your PayPal account to the merchant.
    • The merchant uses the hold as an authorization as is the case when you check into a hotel.
    • The merchant (typically gas stations) will send out a small funds inquiry to make sure that you have the funds available. Check back in a few days as the "Pending" status will likely change to either "expired” or “completed”. See expired and completed status definitions below.
  • Placed - A temporary hold has been placed on the funds in your account for a purchase. This expires when the payment is completed.
  • Completed - Your debit card purchase is completed.
  • Debit Card Credit Received - This means the merchant has issued you a refund. The funds have credited to your PayPal balance.
  • Expired – This appears 5 days after the authorization was initiated. If the merchant has not collected the funds the funds are released back into your PayPal balance. The authorization is still available for the merchant to capture the funds and complete the transaction.
  • Canceled Transfer – This is found in the details of the expired authorization. The merchant did not collect the funds within 4 days. At this time, any money that was placed on hold is credited back to your PayPal account balance. The merchant can still collect those funds at any time.
You can view the details of the purchase, including the purchase and settlement dates, by clicking on the transaction.
If your payment is on hold or not available right away, we’ll notify you via email.

If your hold was placed by eBay, you'll need to contact eBay for more information.

Why is the money in my pending balance rather than in my available balance?

Your payment may be placed on hold in your pending PayPal balance because:
  • The payment you received may be considered unusual for your selling pattern
  • Your account was inactive for a while
  • We found an unusual change in selling price of this transaction
  • You’re selling an item that can potentially cause dissatisfaction with customers
  • We noticed you only recently started selling outside of eBay, so your history with us as an off-eBay seller is quite short.
Why does PayPal do this?

Delaying funds availability is a common industry practice we implement to help ensure the safe and secure use of PayPal by both buyers and sellers. By placing your money in your pending balance, we can ensure there is enough money in your PayPal account to resolve any issues that may arise with your account such as chargebacks or disputes. The money still belongs to you. It’s just temporarily not available to use, until your buyer has received the item they ordered in the condition promised.

When will I have access to my funds?

If there aren't any issues with your transaction, such as a customer filing a dispute, the payment will move to your available balance with 21 days of receipt.

How can I get access to my funds faster?

If you are experiencing delayed funds availability, here are some shipping tips that may help make your payment available sooner:
  • If you provide tracking information (UPS, USPS, or FedEx) and we can confirm delivery, your payment should be available one day after we can confirm the delivery date.
    • Pending payments are generally released one day after we can confirm delivery, but sometimes the delivery information takes a bit longer to update. Please note that pending payments can’t be released before you meet these requirements. 
    • Buyers can also confirm that they have received the item, which will release the payment immediately.
  • If you fulfill the order, but don’t provide any shipping information, your payment should be available after 21 days, as long as your buyer doesn’t report any issues with the transaction.
To help ensure a successful transaction, we always encourage sellers to adhere to the following best practices:
  • List successfully by including clear photos with detailed, accurate descriptions of items
  • Be clear about shipping and handling time, costs and methods
  • Ship promptly
  • Upload tracking
  • Define your return policy upfront
  • Communicate with your buyers and respond to inquiries quickly and in a professional manner
  • Review all communications from PayPal
If your payment is on hold or not available right away, we’ll notify you via email or an alert on your Summary page.

Why are my funds being held, and when will they be available?

Delaying funds availability is a common industry practice we implement to help ensure the secure use of PayPal by both buyers and sellers. By placing your money in your pending balance, we’re trying to make sure that there’s enough money in your PayPal account to resolve any issues that may arise with your account such as chargebacks or disputes. When subject to a hold, the money is temporarily not available to use.

If there aren’t any issues with your transaction or account, the payment will typically move to your available balance within 21 days after receipt. After your hold is released, it may take until midnight (but it's usually sooner) for the money to appear in your account.

"Why is my payment on hold or unavailable?,” provides more detail on holds.
"How do I get my money sooner for a transaction on hold?" provides information on how you may be able to get your funds released early.