Credit Card Authorize vs Capture

How do I authorize a Credit Card but not actually charge it until I ship the goods?

While many businesses will want to take payment immediately online, sometimes the business model requires that the customer’s card be authorized but not charged until the goods have been shipped.

Most gateways allow you to authorize only for the payment, and then within a week capture the payment when you ship the goods. The length of time allowed before capture depends on the contract you have with the Gateway (based on their rules, and on the kind of business you run).


To enable this, check whether your module has an option to specify Authorize-Only mode, and enable it. (As opposed to Charge or Capture mode.)

The process is this:

  1. Customer places an order. The card is only authorized.
  2. Prepare the order
  3. Log in to your Merchant Gateway system. Find the transaction for that customer/order.
  4. Choose the option to Capture the funds. This charges the card and puts the money in your bank account during the next settlement/processing batch.
  5. Ship the goods

If you set your payment module to Authorize-Only, be sure to set the Order Status to Pending, just like an offline payment module.

Authorize And Capture Immediately

The process is this:

  1. Customer places an order and submits for payment. The card is authorized and funds captured immediately.
  2. You fulfill the order by shipping the goods (or customer gets immediate access to their downloads).

Still have questions? Use the Search box in the upper right, or try the full list of FAQs. If you can't find it there, head over to the Zen Cart support forum and ask there in the appropriate subforum. In your post, please include your Zen Cart and PHP versions, and a link to your site.

Is there an error or omission on this page? Please post to General Questions on the support forum. Or, if you'd like to open a pull request, just review the guidelines and get started. You can even PR right here.
Last modified March 23, 2024 by Scott Wilson (285c9e5).