How to cancel a PayPal payment - PayPal app

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

So what are your options? 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?


Can you cancel a PayPal payment?

You can cancel a PayPal payment, but only if it’s the type of payment that needs to be accepted. Additionally, it only works if you catch it before it gets claimed. Once 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).

Unfortunately, the conditions required to cancel a PayPal payment are pretty specific. There are only a few situations where a payment needs to be claimed, which we’ve listed below.

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

Fortunately, this covers a major reason why 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.

How to cancel a pending PayPal payment

PayPal web login - how to cancel paypal payment

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.

The first thing you need to do is log into your PayPal account and navigate to the Activity page. 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 has not been claimed, there will be a small Cancel link. Click it, then Cancel Payment on the next page and your money will be returned to your account. If there is no cancel option, that means the money has already been claimed and you’ll have to try something else (see the next section).

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. Find the payment and click Cancel.
  4. 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.

How to cancel a recurring payment on PayPal

Cancel recurring payments PayPal

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, and the first is very similar to the method listed above. The only difference is that you need to filter for Automatic Payments on the Activity page. The other way to cancel a recurring payment on PayPal is completely 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 settings cog in the upper right part of the screen. Then, click Payments in the top middle. After that, click View next to Manage your Automatic Payments and a new page will open.

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 settings icon in the top right.
  3. Click Payments in the top middle.
  4. Next to Manage your Automatic Payments, click View.
  5. Select the name of the business, then Cancel.

Note that you have to cancel the recurring payment at least 24 hours before it’s scheduled to occur. You can still cancel the subscription, but the next payment may still be sent.

What are my options if the PayPal payment can’t be canceled?

PayPal app on phone

If you don’t catch it 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, but these transfers are more difficult to get back. Your first option here should be to request a refund from the retailer themselves, which is typically done on their website or through a customer service email. You will probably need to send back whatever you purchased, and the process could take a week or more.

It’s possible that a retailer will 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.


That’s it for our guide on how to cancel a PayPal payment. Check out more guides for PayPal and other payment platforms below.

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