The Capture is one of the legal steps during credit card processing. Usually, this is somewhat hidden behind-the-scenes and not discussed unless there are problems with the financial transaction. Here is why the Capture is vital to the merchant account.

When does the Capture occur?

A customer will provide his physical credit card or number to the merchant for credit card processing. After the credit card number, individual identity information and funds availability is verified, the financial transaction will be authorized by the credit card issuing bank. This will create a unique billable transaction record.

The business owner will deliver the goods and services to the customer. The entire goal of a business is to complete the sale and this authorization is a key step in that process. The authorization establishes an important legal right for the merchant: the Capture.

What Does the Capture Entitle a Merchant to Do?

Legally, the authorization will give the merchant the right to bill the customer for “goods or services rendered.” The Capture is the legal right established when a credit card transaction is finally authorized. The store owner now has the right to debit funds from the customer account and credit the funds to his merchant account.

The vast majority of captures will occur a couple of minutes after the authorization. Some banks might wait until the next business day before the funds are officially available. The vendor does have the legal right to delay his Capture if he so desires. He can also break down his Capture into smaller amounts, if he wants.

If a customer makes a complaint to his bank about money debited from his account, the bank can point to the Capture as proof of his voluntary agreement to the transaction. The Capture is key to resolving legal disputes.

Can the Capture Expire?

If the merchant does not have an automatic Capture set up with his credit card processing acquirer bank, then he will be forced to manually transfer the funds. It is possible that a customer might request the merchant to delay funds withdrawal, just like with a post-dated check. The Capture does have an expiration time period, which varies from card to card.

The final Capture must include satisfactory delivery of goods or services to the customer. Non-delivery will lead to a refund.



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