June 7, 2016

Partial Authorizations Explained

Partial Authorizations Explained

Most merchants are familiar with partial authorizations on gift card transactions. A customer eats dinner at your restaurant, pays their bill with a gift card, and then $25 is taken off their bill and your point of sale (POS) asks for another form of payment to take care of the remaining balance.But did you know that some banks and processors allow for partial authorizations on other types of cards, too? In fact, some of you may have already noticed that your POS has authorized a partial amount on a credit, debit, or prepaid card transaction.
Why Accept Partial Authorizations?
When a customer doesn’t have enough funds to pay, it can cause problems for merchants – anything from a customer getting embarrassed to a lost sale. Partial authorizations help solve these problems by allowing a customer to use more than one form of payment to settle a bill.
How It Works
Card issuers can approve a partial payment if a cardholder doesn’t have enough funds in their account to pay for the entire transaction. If your processor, merchant services provider (MSP), and POS system provider support partial authorizations, you will receive an authorized payment for an amount less than the total, and then a remaining balance will display on your POS screen. Another form of payment will then need to be provided to complete the transaction.
For example, if a customer is purchasing a $100 hat, but they only have $60 left until they hit their credit limit, their card issuer can authorize a $60 payment and then your POS will display that $40 remains on the bill. This still allows the customer to buy the hat, but they’ll need to pay for the remaining balance with another credit card, a debit card, cash, or check.
Who We Support
Shift4 supports partial authorizations for the following card types with these processors:
Credit, Debit, and Prepaid Cards:

  • American Express: United States/International
  • Chase Paymentech: Tampa
  • Elavon: USA
  • Fifth Third Bank/Vantiv
  • First Data Merchant Services: FDMS Nashville/6000
  • First Data Merchant Services: ValueLink (Standard)
  • First Data Rapid Connect
  • Heartland Payment Systems
  • TSYS

Only FSA/HSA/IIAS Cards:

  • First Data Merchant Services: FDMS North

If you use any of the above processors, then there is a chance you may already be receiving them. If you aren’t getting partial authorizations and you use one of the processors named above, then you may need to contact your MSP and/or POS to enable your system to accept them.
As always, you can also reach out to our Customer Support team for help at 702.597.2480 (option 2) or [email protected].