Why is My Bitcoin Transaction Pending for So Long? – Bitcoin Fees for Dummies

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If you’re reading this post I assume that like many others, you sent a bitcoin transaction and was kind of confused as to why it’s still listed as “unconfirmed” or “pending” after a few hours or so.

I mean Bitcoin transactions are supposed to be instant right?

In this post I want to try and explain in a very basic way how a Bitcoin transaction works and why the fee that you attach to each transaction has a crucial role in how long it will take the transaction to go through the network.

Here’s what happens when you send Bitcoins to someone

Whenever you send someone Bitcoins, the transaction goes through different computers running the Bitcoin protocol around the world that make sure the transaction is valid. Once the transaction is verified it then “waits” inside the Mempool (i.e. in some sort of a “limbo” state).

It’s basically waiting to be picked up by a Bitcoin miner and entered into a block of transaction on the Blockchain. Until it is picked up it’s considered an “unconfirmed transaction” or a “pending transaction”. A new block of transactions in added to the Blockchain every 10 minutes on average.

However since there are so many transactions lately due to the price increase, and a block can only hold a finite amount of transactions, not all transactions are picked instantly. So you need to wait for a certain amount of time until a miner decided to pick your transaction out of all of those sitting around in the mempool.

Once your transaction is included in the block it receives its first confirmation and it’s no longer pending. After another block of transactions is added it will get another confirmation and so on….here’s a short video explaining this:

How can you make sure your transaction will get included in the next block?

Simple. By adding a big enough mining fee to it. You see one of the ways miners get paid for their work is by collecting the fees on the different transactions. So naturally they would prefer to include the transactions with the highest fees first. If your fee is high enough – your transaction will go through faster.

How can you tell how much is the right fee?

Fees are calculated by the size of the transaction. Every transaction has a size, just like a file size. The size depends on many factors that I won’t go in to at the moment. The fastest and cheapest transaction fee is currently 60 satoshis/byte. So if, for example, your transaction is 257 bytes, you will need to pay 257*60 = 15,420 Satoshis as a transaction fee in order to be included in the next block.

So now you’re probably asking “How can I calculate my transaction size?”

You can’t, at least not without extensive knowledge of how Bitcoin works. Your wallet is supposed to do this for you. Most wallets today will either automatically add the required fee to get the transaction confirmed as soon as possible or will let you choose from a variety of fees according to the requested confirmation time (e.g. fast, medium, slow).

However, since I wouldn’t want to leave you hanging I decided to give you an overview of how the most popular wallets around handle their fees:

Coinbase – Coinbase pays the miner fees (typically 0.0003 BTC) on external transactions in order to ensure these transactions propagate throughout the bitcoin network quickly. For very small transaction amounts you may be prompted to pay the transaction / miner fee. (source)

Blockchain.info – The wallet implemented a dynamic fee structure.Dynamic fees work to detect changes in network volume and will raise or lower transaction fees accordingly. This means that the same transaction may require a higher fee during a period of network congestion, or a lower fee if sent during a period of decreased activity. If you set a custom fee a warning will display if a custom fee is thought to be unnecessarily high or dangerously low. (source)

Electrum – Has the option to set dynamic fees (similar to Blockchain.info) or set your own fee through the tools -> preference tab. (source)

electrum preferences

Greenaddress – GreenAddress is the first Bitcoin wallet to include a replace-by-fee option. With it, users can increase fees on their transactions and increase the likelihood a miner will include a transaction in a block.

Clicking on the “bump fee” tab opens a mini-menu. On top of the menu, text displays how fast the transaction is expected to confirm. The menu allowed me to bump the fee: times 1.5, times 2 or times 3.

Greenaddress bump fee

if a transaction is not expected to be mined in the first available block because the fee is too low, the mini-menu offers users the option to include a fee big enough to have the transaction included in the next two, three or six blocks. (source)

greenaddress include in block

MyCelium – Mycelium does give you some control over the fee. In Settings/Miner Fee, you can select Standard, Economic, or Priority for (I think) 0.1mBTC, 0.01mBTC, or 0.5mBTC, respectively, per mB. (source)

Bitcoin QT -Bitcoin Core will use floating fees. Based on past transaction data, floating fees approximate the fees required to get into the `m`th block from now. Bitcoin Core will cap fees. Bitcoin Core will never create transactions smaller than the current minimum relay fee. Finally, a user can set the minimum fee rate for all transactions. (source)

TREZOR – Fees will be automatically calculated for you by the myTREZOR wallet. (source)

There’s a very helpful resource created by 21.co that shows how many Satoshis/byte you’ll need to pay in order to get included in the upcoming blocks. Here’s an example of the current situation inside the Bitcoin network:

bitcoin fees

For each Satoshi/byte category you can see the number of unconfirmed transactions as opposed to the transactions that went through. For example, 15405 transactions with a fee of 11-20 Satoshis/byte went through the system in the last 3 hours as opposed to 1533 that are waiting for confirmation.

On the right hand side you can see the estimated number of block confirmation / minutes you’ll have to wait until your transaction gets included.

What happens to transaction that don’t get confirmed ever?

Basically transactions stay in “limbo” (i.e. the mempool) until they are included in a block. However, if a transaction stays inside the mempool for too long the different computers holding it (Bitcoin nodes) may just drop it from their system. In this case the transaction will be canceled.

Some wallets may try to rebroadcast an expired transaction and therefor it will stay inside the mempool for a long time until some miner decides to have pity on your soul and include it :)

VIA BTC offers a transaction accelerator service

Just recently VIABTC (one of the largest Bitcoin mining pools) started offering a new transaction accelerator service. With the Transaction Accelerator for delayed transactions, users can submit any TXID (Transaction ID) that includes a minimum 0.0001BTC/KB fee to ViaBTC. The pool will then prioritize to include the TX in the next block when possible at no extra charge. A maximum of 100 TXs submitted can be accelerated every hour.

Important: Transactions are received on a first come first served basis so try to submit yours at the beginning of every hour to get into the queue before it fills up.

So I hope this clears things up a bit. Next time before sending a Bitcoin transaction make sure to add the appropriate fee in accordance to the wallet you are using.

If you have any more questions or insights about Bitcoin fees feel free to leave them in the comment section below.

Ofir Beigel

Owner at 99 Coins ltd.
Blogger and owner of 99Bitcoins. I've been dealing with Bitcoin since the beginning of 2013 and it taught me a lesson in finance that I couldn't get anywhere else on the planet. I'm not a techie, I don't understand "Hashes" and "Protocols", I designed this website with people like myself in mind. My expertise is online marketing and I've dedicated a large portion of 99Bitcoins to Bitcoin marketing.

205 Comments

  1. Hi there! I sent my BTC through the CEX.IO website, so they have an “automatic” fee
    on there (I dont think you can chose how much to pay for the fee) and all my BTC transactions have always went through instantly. I was told by my merchant there should never be a problem with unconfirmed
    transactions if using their service. However, my most recent transaction, I sent $100 worth of BTC to the merchant about 4 days ago and the merchant is telling me that the transaction has only ONE confirmation. And my merchant requires THREE confirmations before they will accept the payment. Here is the link- https://blockchain.info/address/38Qt2hqoAnJKAyZinkAXRggex8nrtvwRv7

    So I emailed CEX website about this and they told me that they apologized that their memory pool is overloaded. So my question is, is this guaranteed to eventually get 3 confirmations, since it already has one? Or is it possible this will be stuck and never go through? And if I wanted to, could I just cancel the transaction and resend it? I asked CEX these questions as well but for some reason they are ignoring me…So I would just like to know what to expect. Thank you so much for your help. My main wonder is will this be guaranteed to eventually get the 3 confirmations(since it has 1 already)?

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      Hi, by now this transaction received 44 confirmation, so it must be visible for the merchant as well. As their support adviced, the mempool was just crowded this is why your transaction was processed slowly.

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      Hi Alex, this transaction already received many confirmation by now so it is probably transferred by now.

  2. hi i hope you are fine 5 days ago i receive the amount 105$ but its on pending can you tell me how can i solve this…?

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      Hi Haider, the Bitcoin blockchain is very crowded at the moment, your transaction is pending probably because of the low fee. You can either wait until your trades get process soon or it will rejected if no miners picks it up. Then your sender can resend it with a higher fee. Alternatively you can use ViaBTC for an extra fee to include your transaction in the next block.

  3. Please can i get a miner to help me accelerate my transaction. Since 17th, my transaction has been pending. I dont mind paying the extra please.

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      If you don’t mind paying extra, you can use ViaBTC as a solution. For an extra fee they include your transaction in the next block.

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      Hi Iam, this transaction is pending because of the low fee. To speed it up you can use ViaBTC to include the transaction in the next block they are mining for an extra fee.

  4. Mike Smith on

    Hi,

    Yesterday I sent USD $20.00 of BTC to another party.

    3 hours later the other party only received USD $4.78 in BTC.
    The rest of the transaction is still pending.

    Can you help figure out the issue ?

    Is there a way I can cancel the transaction ?

    00e9c2bffe0c094b43b1300dfbb4f9a12f422e41edd2b5c5f1eff2279363a7af

    1GyhdB6chzzP2Ei5iGbqo2vLa1eXDa9uWW (U) (0.08535142 BTC – Output) TO

    1GYFNUichomDVW7ND4SueTBpSY4mb8UGWB – (Spent) 0.009009 BTC
    1NNuSnYwK7bK4z4SzrFWA9keh7Qy2VCUsd – (Unspent) 0.07580002 BTC

    Unconfirmed Transaction! 0.08480902 BTC

    Summary
    Size 225 (bytes)
    Received Time 2017-05-23 21:31:29
    Relayed by IP Blockchain.info
    Visualize View Tree Chart

    Inputs and Outputs
    Total Input 0.08535142 BTC
    Total Output 0.08480902 BTC
    Fees 0.0005424 BTC
    Fee per byte 241.067 sat/B

    Estimated BTC Transacted 0.009009 BTC

    Scripts Hide scripts & coinbase

    Input Scripts
    304402205c75d779810779f3e937028a925916d67d4c78a461ae78aa5b3e688dc8fd2558022010e0dd81f8b7370f84b87cd576ff515f5b4247e5f7a74532f4abdbc56a414ce801 0343dce1bec64cffd2e6c8d0eee28429e028bc431267ac5d1927a4d52b70c344c0 OK

    Output Scripts
    OP_DUP OP_HASH160 aa72c6fd3b198dc32529357e84c9d6c93f3d0583 OP_EQUALVERIFY OP_CHECKSIG
    OK
    OP_DUP OP_HASH160 ea7f27ba1b844b419d940c108929c740f7e1bf67 OP_EQUALVERIFY OP_CHECKSIG
    OK

  5. Hi,
    Have a transaction with multiple confirmations but showing as unverified in my Electrum wallet:

    8aa341eb0f0fdea739b27bdbe29c47407de342c9debb2093cde16d13fcce05d8

    One of the inputs has many confirmations but is also unverified…

    ab56917add395f61da4599cedcfa785274ea81677aefb72a2d4dfd896742504a

    Is this going to resolve itself or is there some action I need to take?

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      Both of these transactions have received more than 100 confirmation by now. The wallet usually ask for at least 6 confirmations before they accept a transaction, probably you just expected it too early. You should see these in your wallet now,

  6. getting there on

    Hi, I use a payment processor and then withdraw from that to my bitcoin wallet. Never had an issue before but the last withdrawal was over 24 hours ago and still not showing in my wallet. I understand about the low fees etc contributing to the wait as it were but i do not have any control over what the payment processor does in that regard. Could you please advise what is happening here:

    https://blockchain.info/address/3Qz6mnXRV4pM3LR2dU2ZQLrFaiKufxhLjK

    thank you

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      Your transaction is already confirmed, in case you still do not see in your wallet, I suggest you to reach out to your wallet provider.

  7. Sonto Lores on

    Hi,

    I have send transaction since 7days and still not confirmed

    b5cd9cb25238634881eab670dcf3656ed399efc42631064f318191e52a653fb1

    Please help me check and what can i do.

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      Your fee is too low to have it processed, it will be eventually cancelled . Please read through the article and try to send it next time with a higher fee.

  8. Hello,

    I’ve made a transaction of 0.4988 BTC with a fee of 52.356 sat/B… I haven’t been using the wallet since a long time (multibit) and I haven’t paid attention to the Fee…..now it is stuck in Limbo with the standard added fee of 0.0001BTC….

    Does it ever get picked up? If not, what will happen with my BTC? Will it be lost?

  9. Hello plz help me check ,transaction pending since 4days

    Blockchain.info/tx/29f0b1b02a6b5143724e9de9f1da2972a6c7b1f741fefc381c712905871f2674

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      Hi, this transaction has been confirmed and recorded on the blockchain yesterday.

  10. Please help me to check this transaction-e874d917d5c816daff3c39325338698fb06033d480dea9924226f477e925dd8f

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      This transaction already received couple of confirmation by now, so probably it is already transferred into the wallet.

  11. Kent Keebine on

    Hi it more than 7 days since I made transection, it still says pending.That my blockchain transection number
    c074f14337f98a4c465ec19067be739a7a3932a4127141783717dc5942d10ece

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      Hi Kent, this transaction is pending because of the low fee. The blockchain is very crowded at the moment, this transaction will be eventually cancelled soon. Please read through the article and try to send it next time with a higher fee.

  12. Geoffrey Blundell on

    Hi
    I have had a transaction pending for 6 days now and even used VIA btc but still unconfirmed transaction.
    Can you help or advise what to do.
    I am the receiver.
    Transacton ID
    1042a9d55137c664c3254b71b3b8ec4295350ed891fed57ee24d7935e50d5b8a

    Many Thanks

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      Hi Geoffrey, unfortunately I cannot advise you anything else to just wait. Your fee is too low considered the ones currently being process on the blockchain.

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      Hi Jermaine, this transaction already received some confrimations by now so it will be transferred soon. Please check with your wallet provider how to switch off automatic resending to avoid this in the future.

  13. Please help me with also these 3 transactions … i would like to know the time that i will need to wait more…

    > 2469db259a490b1c43112ac1ec48c2516ae021cb049e3b8bc5f0cd7685b2320d

    > (MOST IMPORTANT) > 713cba063dbb14749a8149c2d6a127cb31e88efef19eb013fd1f07f192005421

    > 878b490cc4f7bd1d84d41e1126e142b93e6faec3b3e69e40c2eb3147d0728de2

    is it possible to know how much time more i will need to wait for the opperations above?

    Thanks in advance, great blog, keep up the good job

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      Hi Daniel, unfortunately I cannot advise you how much more time you need to wait until your coins are transferred. I see your fee of 102 satoshi/byte is too low compared to the ones currently processed on the blockchain. Try to send it next time with a higher fee to make it quicker.

  14. I’ve lead my blockchain.info wallet calculate the transaction fee for me but its about 2 days now, this is still pending. it’s a pitty, since I want to buy some ether with it.

    10d2cf3d70bc77a7dc552660edf677aec16f8a4b0ec344d621c81f4ece4d8a9b

    Sofia, I see you have pity with us poor souls. Maybe yet another time for me? thank you in advance :)

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      Hi Kronk, I see this transaction has received many confirmations by now so probably you see in your wallet already. Not much I can say, just the same as to the others, please check the article to have high amount of fee next time to make it quicker.

  15. f078a82a57e5551b866c9d76fe20afdb316b48f29407829690b4f29913ec6e41

    This should have been transferred awhile ago…

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      This has received many transaction by now, so probably has been tranferred already.

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      This transaction has been confirmed by now, please check the article to make sure your fee is high enough next time to make it quicker.

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      This transaction has received many confirmation by now, sometimes you need to wait if the fee is lower.

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      Hi Serena, the first transaction has just received the first confirmation when I checked now, so these will go through soon.

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      Hi Nehi, as mentioned in the article the transaction fee is depending on the size of the trade, it cannot be considered solely based on the BTC amount of the fee. I see your transaction fee is 120 satoshi/byte, while at the moment 270 satoshi/byte is the cheapest and quickest fee on the blockchain. Anything below that will need to wait unfortunately.

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      Hi Clifford, the transaction is pending probably because of the low fee. Just need to wait a little longer and it will go through.

  16. Why is this transaction pending since 3 days agoc889090f29bd820d0d7660439e1f23b29b203f9643f1c83ba14ff436f1fcc034

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      I don’t see this transaction ID on the blockchain, it is probably cancelled by now. Try to send it with a higher fee next time.

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      Hi, this transaction is pending because of the low fee. If it is not confirmed soon it will probably will be cancelled as no miners pick this up.

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      This transaction received some confirmation by now so probably will be available in the wallet soon.

  17. I think blockchain needs to fix their fee calculator because im a little pissed off. I increased the fee on my transaction according to what they said would get it cleared in the next block, roughly 10 minutes. Which is what ive done for quite a while now. So it was to my surprise when i checked the transaction several hours later that it still had no confirmation. Now we are a bit over 24 hours now and still no confirmation at all. I have checked 21.co’s chart and aparently the fee blockchain.info said would get it included in the next block was much lower then it should of been. That being said , its still high enough that it should of been confirmed much much sooner, we are like 3x now the high end of the estimated confirmation time for the fee included. What the hell. I mean almost 9 dollars fee should be more than enough to get a transaction cleared immediately. Thats already obscenely ridiculous. The transaction in question is:

    http://blockchain.info/tx/7ca40c6cadae50d6e9dc22a764cc1682276c155cfec44d714cbfaff1a7955d8b

    • Ofir Beigel on

      Hey,
      I totally agree. I’m moving away from Blockchain.info as well because of this.
      Here are two little known tips about this matter:
      1. Electrum has a RBF (replace by fee) method that really helps in these cases, so consider moving to Electrum.
      2. ViaBTC accepts acceleration submissions on the beginning of each hour (up to 100 submissions). This is a first come first serve basis, so I suggest trying to insert this tx at the beginning of the hour and it should work.

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      The transaction is pending probably because of the low fee. Unfortunately if the blockchain is very crowded the pre-suggested fees could be too low.

        • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

          The fee depends on the actual byte size of the transaction. Your wallet should have an option to change the fee or even suggest a higher fee for quicker transaction when you are trying to send the coins.

      • Denise Chapin on

        So do you loose all your money if it gets lost or cancelled, or doe it just reappear back in your wallet? I have been waiting for 3 days on one transaction and 7 days on another.

        • Ofir Beigel on

          It should reappear back in your wallet. Have you tried using ViaBTC as mentioned in the post?

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      Hi DL, this transaction is no longer pending as it received many confirmation by now.

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      Hi Tom, these transactions already received couple of confirmations by now.

    • Exactly the same situation, I increased the fee blockchain.info suggested – it warned me that it was too high, and told me it would take 10 minutes.

      It’s now been past 48 hours and doesn’t look like clearing any time soon: 039759a2c3e2c2348ac1719fa3eaa1b4b5597f9d4c24dd0ff8d1a423a7e01b04

      I would have happily paid a higher transaction fee if I had know the blockchain suggestion was so inaccurate.

      • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

        This transaction has been confrimed by now. Unfortunately the blockchain can be very crowded sometimes.

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      Hi Qudus, as you see the transaction is indeed pending because of the low fee. Eventually your transaction will be rejected if none of the miners picks it up and you will be available to resend the coins next time with a higher fee.

      • qudus abiodun on

        thanx,i used viabtc for this transaction, and it went through,but to my greatest surprice my new transaction that i personally increased the fee myself.the transaction is still pending and viabtc is rejecting this one now,pls help me

      • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

        Hi Mark, unfortunately your transaction is pending as well because of the low fees. Just need to wait a little longer and it will be eventually cancelled and returned to your wallet.

    • Zsofia - 99Bitcoins support on

      This transaction have received many confirmation by now so probably it is available in your wallet already. Sometimes it just takes this long to go through.

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