How Online Processing Works

Step: 1: The basic steps involved starts with an “authorization” for the amount of the purchase. The customer supplies a card number, expiration date, security code and address to the website/merchant. The merchant submits a credit card transaction to the Authorize.Net Payment Gateway on behalf of a customer via secure Web site connection, retail store, MOTO center or wireless device. This occurs automatically as soon as the customer clicks submit or confirm order.

Step 2: Authorize.Net receives the secure transaction information and passes it via a secure connection to the Merchant Bank's Processor.

Step 3: The Merchant Bank's Processor submits the transaction to the Credit Card Network (a system of financial entities that communicate to manage the processing, clearing, and settlement of credit card transactions).

Step 4: The Credit Card Network (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or Amex) routes the transaction to the Customer's Credit Card Issuing Bank where the information provided by the customer is checked by the card issuing bank for accuracy and the customer’s balance is checked to see if the funds are available for the amount requested.

Step 5: The Customer's Credit Card Issuing Bank approves or declines the transaction based on the customer's available funds and based on the accuracy of the address information provided by the customer and passes the transaction results back to the Credit Card Network.

Simultaneously, the address stored on file for the card is tested against the address the customer provided. Oddly enough, this test is separate. This means the AVS (Address Verification Service) check CAN FAIL while the authorization was successful which is what often occurs with a DECLINED transaction and can result in “pending” authorizations against an account. Declined transactions will never be posted or permanently charged to an account but unfortunately will show as a pending deduction until the card issuing bank processes the pending transaction and releases the authorization hold that they placed on the available funds. If the AVS test passes (an approved transaction), the pending charge will complete, if the AVS test fails (a declined transaction), the pending charge will be removed and will not complete. It generally takes 3 to 5 business days for banks to process a pending charge for approved and declined transactions. 

Step 6: The Credit Card Network relays the transaction results to the Merchant Bank's Processor as to whether the bank approved or declined the transaction. Sometimes the customers bank will give the reason if a transaction is declined but not always.

Step 7: The Merchant Bank's Processor relays the transaction results to Authorize.Net.

Step 8: Authorize.Net stores the transaction results and sends them to the customer and/or the merchant. This step completes the authorization process - all in about three seconds or less!

Step 9: The Customer's Credit Card Issuing Bank sends the appropriate funds for the transaction to the Credit Card Network, which passes the funds to the Merchant's Bank. The bank then deposits the funds into the merchant's bank account. This step is known as the settlement process and typically the transaction funds are deposited into the website/merchant’s bank account within two to four business days.

Also view a diagram slideshow of how credit card processing works straight from the source at

IMPORTANT:  Post office box addresses can cause problems. Due to an incompatibility between Authorize.Net and some banks, addresses like "PO Box 123" may not match, even when you enter them correctly into our system. If you are sure that your bank has a PO box address on file and your card is still being declined, try updating your address within our customer portal so that the number comes first. i.e., try "123 PO Box" instead of "PO Box 123

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