Authorizing a payment
If you need to verify that your customer has the ability to pay for a transaction but you do not want to immediately apply a charge to the customer's payment card you can choose to authorize a transaction in a distinct step.
Read more about the distinction between authorization, capture, and purchase transactions on the payment operations page.
What is authorization?
Authorization is an instruction where you request that the customer's issuing bank ringfences the funds on the customer's payment card so that your customer cannot spend the funds somewhere else.
It ensures that the funds are available for you to capture and to transfer to your merchant account when you decide to do so.
Note that authorizing an amount on a customer's payment card does not in its own right mean that you will be paid the amount you have authorized. Authorization simply holds the amount on your customer's card so that you can capture it in the future.
If you do not send a capture instruction within the required time frame the amount that you have authorized on your customer's payment card will be automatically released for your customer to spend elsewhere. The time frame varies depending on the issuing bank.
You can optionally release the fund you authorized on your customer's card by voiding the authorization. Read more about voiding authorization here.
We recommend that you issue a capture or void command within five working days as some banks may release the authorized amount within five working days.
Note that some payment options do not support the authorize command -- examples include KNET, mada, MEEZA, and NAPS.
When should I use authorization?
Certain payment use cases require that you authorize an amount on your customer's payment card before you proceed to send a capture transaction.
In other words, in contrast to a purchase transaction that triggers an authorization and capture instruction in sequence, your use case demands that you first send an authorization command before proceeding to send a capture instruction.
Separating the authorization and capture step is often sensible where you are not sure how much your customer's final bill will be, but where you want to ensure that your customer has funds available once that final bill is due.
Or, you may want to simply authorize an amount once your customer has checked out a shopping cart, but prefer to only capture the purchase amount once delivery is confirmed. That minimizes the inconvenience for your customer, as you can void the authorization -- see below. In contrast, refunding a captured amount (or purchase) will imply that your customer waits for a refund.
Go to the full API reference
We've given you an overview of how the authorization step works and why you would choose the authorize operation instead of the purchase operation. Developers should review the full API reference for complete instructions.
Need further help?
If you get stuck feel free to get in touch with the Amazon Payment Services team. Just message our support team at email@example.com.