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How to cancel a PayPal payment before it's too late

You need to act quickly!
By
August 7, 2022
PayPal stock photo 1
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

PayPal makes it easy to send money online, but sometimes it can be too easy. If you enter the wrong email address and click send before you notice, PayPal instantly removes that money from your account. The good news is that if you catch it soon enough, you can sometimes cancel a PayPal payment and get your money back.

What are your options? Please keep reading to learn how to cancel a PayPal payment and what to do when it’s too late.

Read also: What is PayPal? How do you use it?

QUICK ANSWER

You can cancel a PayPal payment only if it's unclaimed. Pending charges can be canceled by logging into your PayPal account. Go to Activity > All Transactions, find the payment, and click Cancel. Then select Cancel Payment.


JUMP TO KEY SECTIONS

Can you cancel a PayPal payment?

PayPal send money

You can cancel a PayPal payment, but only under particular circumstances. Unfortunately, the conditions required to cancel a PayPal payment are pretty specific.

You can cancel a PayPal payment when:

  • The recipient email doesn’t have a registered PayPal account. The transfer will complete as soon as the email owner registers it.
  • The recipient’s email is not verified. As soon as it’s confirmed, the transfer is complete.

Fortunately, this covers a significant reason you’d want to cancel a PayPal payment: entering the wrong email address. If the email address doesn’t exist, the money will stay in limbo, and even if you don’t cancel it, the payment will automatically be returned to your account after 30 days. If the email address does exist, you need to cancel it quickly before it gets claimed.

Certain payments need to be accepted, in which case you can cancel them if they haven’t been claimed. Once the transfer shows as “Completed,” and the money is in the other person’s account, you can no longer cancel the PayPal transaction (but you still have a few options to refund it).

Also: How to set up a PayPal account

How to cancel a pending PayPal payment

app on phone

It’s easy to remember how to cancel a PayPal payment once you’ve done it, but it can be confusing the first time if you don’t know where to look.

You first need to log into your PayPal account and navigate to the Activity tab. Then click on All Transactions. This page lists your past transactions, and you should be able to find the payment you want to cancel somewhere on the list.

Now comes the moment of truth: if the payment isn’t complete, there will be a small Cancel link. Click it, then Cancel Payment on the next page, and your money will go back to your account. If there is no cancel option, that means the transaction went through, and you’ll have to try something else.

For quick reference, we’ve listed the steps in brief below.

How to cancel a PayPal payment:

  1. Log into your PayPal account.
  2. Click Activity at the top of the page.
  3. Select All Transactions.
  4. Find the payment and click Cancel.
  5. On the next page, click Cancel Payment.

Although you will get your money back, it may not return to the same place it came from. PayPal automatically withdraws money from your bank account when your PayPal balance is insufficient, and instead of returning the money to your bank, it will appear in your PayPal balance. From there, it’s easy to transfer it back to your bank account, although it may take a few days.

Related: How to receive money on PayPal

How to cancel a recurring payment on PayPal

PayPal stock photo 5
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

Recurring payments, like subscriptions, are easy to set up on PayPal. However, when your subscription ends, you may need to cancel the PayPal transaction in addition to canceling the subscription with the business itself.

There are two ways to do this; the first is very similar to the method listed above. The only difference is that you need to filter for Subscription Payments on the Activity page. The other way to cancel a recurring payment on PayPal is entirely different. You still need to log into the website, but that’s the only step the two have in common.

Once logged in, click on the username button in the upper right part of the screen. Then, click Account Settings, click Money, Banks & Cards, and finally, go into Manage Automatic payments.

From there, click the name of the business you have the recurring payment with, then Cancel. As a review, we’ve listed the step-by-step instructions below.

How to cancel a recurring payment (subscription) on PayPal

  1. Log into your PayPal account.
  2. Click the username button in the top right.
  3. Select Account Settings.
  4. Hit Money, Banks & Cards.
  5. Scroll to the bottom and find Automatic Payments.
  6. Click on Manage Automatic Payments.
  7. Select the recurring payment or subscription you want to cancel.
  8. Select Cancel.

Note that you have to cancel the recurring payment at least 24 hours before it takes place. You can still cancel the subscription, but the next payment may still go through.

Also: Why is my PayPal money on hold?

What are my options if I can’t cancel the PayPal payment?

app sign in

If you don’t catch the payment in time, or the recipient already has a PayPal account, you still have a few options to get your money back. The ideal situation here is when you know and trust the recipient. Simply ask them to refund the money. It’s easy for them to do from the Activity page, and won’t cost anyone any money.

If you can't cancel the payment, you still have a few options to get your money back.

PayPal is also accepted at a wide variety of online retailers. These transfers are more difficult to get back. Your first option here should be to request a refund from the retailer, which you can typically do on the website or through a customer service email. You will probably need to send back whatever you purchased; the process could take a week or more.

A retailer may deny your refund request, but your options don’t end there. You can report an issue in PayPal’s Resolution Center, where a customer service representative will have a look at your case. This doesn’t guarantee you will get your money back, but PayPal is generally good about granting customer requests within reason.


FAQs

Only unclaimed or pending PayPal payments can be canceled. These types of payments rarely happen, though. This only occurs when a recipient’s email isn’t linked to a PayPal account or verified.

Sending money from one PayPal account to another is instant with your PayPal balance or a card. Using your bank account as the payment method could take 1-3 business days.

Cancelling a PayPal payment has no fee. You have to make sure you can cancel the payment first, though.

PayPal charges no fees for refunds, but it won’t return any previous fees. This includes credit or debit card usage fees the user pays when performing a transaction.

If you’re unsure about using PayPal, we’ve also created a guide to deleting your PayPal account. You might want to use other services, such as Venmo, a great PayPal alternative.