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PARTIAL AUTH FAQS

Definitions and FAQs:
Partial Authorization, Balance Responses, and Reversals

Partial Approval

Partial approval definition: When a Debit or Prepaid authorization is initiated, the issuer can respond with an approval amount less than the requested amount.

Benefits: Merchants can conduct split-tender purchases by allowing debit and prepaid card issuers to approve a portion of the original transaction amount in the authorization request when the transaction amount exceeds the funds available on the card. The merchant can then initiate split-tender processing and obtain the remainder of the purchase amount in another form of payment

Account Balance Response

Account balance response definition: For prepaid transactions only, the issuer must include the remaining available balance in the cardholder’s account in the authorization response message field.

Benefits: When prepaid issuers can transmit account balance information in an authorization response, cardholders will attempt fewer purchases that exceed their available balances, leading to fewer declines at the POS.

When are merchants required to support partial authorizations?

Answer: Merchants in specified merchant category codes must support partial approvals only for card-present transactions occurring at attended terminals (including automated fuel dispensers with MCC 5542), for all Debit MasterCard and Maestro (including pin-based Maestro) account ranges, and all Discover cards.

When are merchants required to support account balance responses?

Answer: For all prepaid MasterCard Debit, Maestro, and Discover transactions.

Are merchants required to print the remaining prepaid account balance on the receipt as well as display it on customer facing POS devices?

Answer: No. Merchants are required to either print the balance on the receipt or display the balance to the cardholder. The merchant can choose to do both.

Is the balance displayed/printed for all debit and prepaid products?

Answer: No. Balances are only returned by the issuer for select prepaid cards. If the “available balance” is present in the authorization response message, merchants are required to print and/or display it to the cardholder regardless of the dollar amount

What type of card transactions are excluded from the mandate for partial authorization and balance inquiry?

Answer: All non-face-to-face transactions, which include all e-commerce, mail order, telephone order, recurring payment and unattended cardholder-activated terminal transactions (except MCC 5542 – Automated Fuel Dispensers) are excluded from the mandate.

Which merchant categories are affected by the mandate?

The following MCCs will be impacted by the requirements:
4111 Transportation—Suburban and Local Commuter Passenger, including Ferries
4812 Telecommunication Equipment, including Telephone Sales
4814 Telecommunication Services
4816 Computer Network/Information Services
4899 Cable, Satellite, and Other Pay Television and Radio Services
5111 Stationery, Office Supplies
5200 Home Supply Warehouse Stores
5300 Wholesale Clubs
5310 Discount Stores
5311 Department Stores
5331 Variety Stores
5399 Miscellaneous General Merchandise Stores
5411 Grocery Stores, Supermarkets
5499 Miscellaneous Food Stores—Convenience Stores, Markets, Specialty Stores and Vending Machines
5541 Service Stations (with or without Ancillary Services)
5542 Fuel Dispenser, Automated*
5732 Electronic Sales
5734 Computer Software Stores
5735 Record Shops
5812 Eating Places, Restaurants
5814 Fast Food Restaurants
5912 Drug Stores, Pharmacies
5921 Package Stores, Beer, Wine, and Liquor
5941 Sporting Goods Stores
5942 Book Stores
5943 Office, School Supply and Stationery Stores
5999 Miscellaneous and Specialty Retail Stores
7829 Motion Picture—Video Tape Production–Distribution
7832 Motion Picture Theaters
7841 Video Entertainment Rental Stores
7996 Amusement Parks, Carnivals, Circuses, Fortune Tellers
7997 Clubs—Country Membership
7999 Recreation Services—not elsewhere classified
8011 Doctors—not elsewhere classified
8021 Dentists, Orthodontists
8041 Chiropractors
8042 Optometrists, Ophthalmologists
8043 Opticians, Optical Goods, and Eyeglasses
8062 Hospitals
8099 Health Practitioners, Medical Services—not elsewhere classified
8999 Professional Services—not elsewhere classified
9399 Government Services—not elsewhere classified

* Must support Partial Approval even though transactions are at unattended terminals

What about other merchant types not listed?

Answer: Merchants not falling within the MCCs listed are encouraged to support the new transaction types but are not required to do so at this time.

What about the use of partial approval in categories where the final purchase amount typically exceeds the authorization amount? Are merchants still protected?

Answer: No. If a merchant indicates support for partial approvals in the authorization request and the issuer responds with a partial approval indicator and amount, then payment is only guaranteed up to the amount of the partial approval. Issuers have the right to initiate a chargeback for any amounts submitted in excess of the authorized amount.

What if the merchant “times out” while waiting for a response to an authorization request on a debit or prepaid transaction?

Answer: The merchant should perform a reversal of the authorization request before initiating another authorization request on the same card.

What is a Partial Authorization?

Answer: When a Debit or Prepaid authorization is initiated, the issuer can respond with an approval amount less than the requested amount. Partial authorizations are common in the hospitality and T&E industries, as well as at gas stations.

How does a Partial Authorization benefit me?

Answer: Partial Authorization allows you to split-tender purchases allowing customers with a debit and/or prepaid card to complete the transaction using multiple payment options. This decreases the number of declined transactions while increasing the number of sales.

How will I know if there is a balance due?

Answer: A balance due should appear on your point-of-sale terminal when the initial payment method doesn’t cover the entire purchase. Please be sure to confirm that the entire transaction has been completed before allowing the customer to leave with merchandise/service.

What is an Account Balance Response?

Answer: For prepaid transactions only, the issuer must include the remaining available balance in the cardholder’s account in the authorization response message field.

How does an Account Balance Response benefit me?

Answer: When prepaid issuers can transmit account balance information in an authorization response, cardholders will attempt fewer purchases that exceed their available balances, leading to fewer declines at the POS – saving you time and money.

What transactions require Partial Authorizations?

Answer: Card-present transactions occurring at attended terminals for all Debit MasterCard® and Maestro® (including pin-based Maestro) account ranges, and all Discover® cards.

What card types require Account Balance Response support?

Answer: For all prepaid MasterCard® Debit, Maestro®, and Discover® transactions.