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.

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288 Comments on "Why is My Bitcoin Transaction Pending for So Long? – Bitcoin Fees for Dummies"

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Marlon
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Member
Marlon

I have a sum of Bitcoin which I transferred to another Wallet but 1 month now, it’s still showing pending deposit in receiver’s wallet. I use coin my Block chain Bitcoin wallet to transfer it and it says confirmed. but the receiving wallet it still showing pending. Why is this happening?

abhinav
Guest
Member
abhinav

please check this here its been 14 hours and its not confirmed what should i do ?

https://blockchain.info/tx/3ab8a1d9e95f27bde29b5f58e87b2c749e92d8aa7635928aec90b6d180167378

Zsofia Elek
Admin
Member
Zsofia Elek

Hi Abhinav, this transaction already received a couple of confirmation by now, sometimes you just need to wait a little longer for the transaction to be processed.

prateek
Guest
Member
prateek

Hello
i send 0.02 bitcoin from my unocoin.com wallet in india taking very long time

Zsofia Elek
Admin
Member
Zsofia Elek

Hi Prateek, your transaction can be pending because of the low fee, please read through the article and try to send it next time with a higher fee.

prateek
Guest
Member
prateek

And how much long to be done

prateek
Guest
Member
prateek
Zsofia Elek
Admin
Member
Zsofia Elek

Hi Prateek, the last transaction on this address has received already couple of confirmation by now, so it should go through soon if not already.

Samson Ighodalo A.
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Member
Samson Ighodalo A.

Please for how long will I have an inflow pending when it has already goten over 1000 confirmations on blockchain?   I boudght 0.706 and it was sent to my coinbase wallet from an external wallet, it is 8days now and the transaction is still flaged as pending, i am begining to think that coinbase is into some kind of fowl play with my funds. Please any idea how these can re resolved so I can have access to my Bitcoin. These delay totally negate one of the advantages of crypto currency.

BT
Guest
Member
BT

I have sent 1.94 BTC also to coin base and am having the same Issue. Do you have any of your 6 confirmations? Im getting a little nervous after reading all of the issues with coinbase lately. I have used them before (small credit card deposits) and have never had an issue. This is the first time receiving funds of a large amount and even two of my smaller ( $100usd worth) of funds are still pending.

Zsofia Elek
Admin
Member
Zsofia Elek

Hi Samson, if the transaction is confirmed on the blockchain you should see the coins in your wallet. Please try to follow up with Coinbase and ask their support why is it not visible in your wallet.

Steve
Guest
Member
Steve

Hi I Have been having a big problem with coinbase. I Have been waiting almost a week for my transcation too get canceled an returned to me. I Put in a small miners fee of only a penny by an accident because I did not understand fully but now I do.
a8ee379c5bedf124ccbb4559a879446b4b6f82c4796c74b23d7d54eb8502053b

Please help transfer or recover my money thank you

Zsofia Elek
Admin
Member
Zsofia Elek

Hi Steve, indeed the fee is too low on this transaction, eventually it will be cancelled and returned to your wallet, just make sure it will not try to resend it again automatically with the same fee.

Lola
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Member
Lola

Hello , I made a transaction on my wallet on the 26/07/2017 and it is yet to be confirmed pls what should I do

Zsofia Elek
Admin
Member
Zsofia Elek

Hi Lola, if your fee was not high enough, your transaction might take longer than usual. You can either way until it is confirmed, or pay an extra fee to ViaBTC accelerator to have it speed up.

Samson Ighodalo A.
Guest
Member
Samson Ighodalo A.

HI!
I had a BTC inflow into my coinbase walet ().
The transaction has been pending for over days now. I did receive a notification email notifying me of receipt of these Bitcoin into my wallet, but the BTC is still flaged as pending in my wallet. I did check these transaction on blockchain and it had over 885confirmations, but uptill now, coin is still flaged as pending in my coinbase wallet. Please I need help to access my fund.

Zsofia Elek
Admin
Member
Zsofia Elek

Hi Samson, please try to follow up with the Coinbase support team, and ask them why the balance is not credited yet to the account even though the transaction is confirmed. Usually, they only need around 6 confirmations to accept a transaction.

Rennan Duarte
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Member
Rennan Duarte

Hi Zsofia,

How do I know how much the total transaction will cost me ? For an example, If i buy a pizza and send the pizza store 0.000025BTC. How much BTC will actually cost for me ? I read that some wallets decide how much the fee will be per Kb, so I assume that I just need to see the size of my transaction and them sum with the amount of BTC I just sent right?
But tye question Is how do I know the size of the transaction “BEFORE” sending it ? Thanks in advance for your attention.

Zsofia Elek
Admin
Member
Zsofia Elek

Hi Rennan, as you can read in the article, there are several factors affecting the size, hence the price of the transaction. Most of the wallets calculate the optimal fee for you, you can also check on http://bitcoinfees.21.co/ if your fee is high enough currently on the network to go through quickly. To compute the exact size, you can read about the formula here: https://bitcoin.stackexchange.com/questions/1195/how-to-calculate-transaction-size-before-sending

Alex
Guest
Member
Alex

Can u please help me. I sent a transfer of bitcoin to this address 1NyWmRtfcRFru9GAN4boUMrU65462WEPVX . It has been over 24 hours and I am using coinbase to transfer it out. U said that they do the appropriate fee can u explain what’s happening. I really need the bitcoin out of coinbase by tomorrow.

Zsofia Elek
Admin
Member
Zsofia Elek

Hi Alex, I only see two transactions on this address and both of them has been confirmed by now. Sometimes you just need to wait a bit longer if the network is crowded. Also, you can speed up the transaction using ViaBTC.

stephen
Guest
Member
stephen

Hi ZSOFIA,
singed up and into ViaBTC and from some reason it is telling me I can’t use the Transaction Accelerator? It tells me “Your remaining Customer-Only use: 0 Times”
Do I have to send some money to ViaBTC to get it working?

Thanks
Stpehn

Eyezberg
Guest
Member
Eyezberg

how do i set up the miner/custom fee for each transaction on blockchain.info and how do i know it is high enough for each transaction

Zsofia Elek
Admin
Member
Zsofia Elek

Hi Eyezberg, Blockchain.info wallet use a dynamic transaction fee, they calculate the required fee for you so that your transaction will confirm as quickly as possible. You also have the option to set your fees manually by using Advanced Send.vIf you are in doubt how to find that, I suggest you follow up the wallet’s support team. Please read through the article how to calculate the right amount of fee.

mumu
Guest
Member
mumu

Please help me check this transaction its been pending for over one month and it yet to be confirmed
https://blockchain.info/address/1L8jw2KfNLvE5pyfQy7niQDsqbSUU8KQVx

Zsofia Elek
Admin
Member
Zsofia Elek

Hi Mumu, this transaction is indeed pending for a while. You can use ViaBTC for an extra fee to include it in the next block.

Erland
Guest
Member
Erland

how long is the longest like week or days? with low fee?

Niraj p ranka
Guest
Member
Niraj p ranka

My transaction is unconfirmed so many time in saw in blockchain info. About 9 days unconfirmed so plz tell me sir it’s Return or unconfirmed… My btcaddress(3P26c4zy6CovEYq7rkWv71zdEoN5QjVUwW) plz sir tell me

Zsofia Elek
Admin
Member
Zsofia Elek

Hi Niraj, your transaction could be pending because of the low fee. Eventually if no miner picks this up, it will be cancelled and will be returned to the wallet.

Zsofia Elek
Admin
Member
Zsofia Elek

Hi Erland, it can even take more than a week if your fee is just too low. If no miner picks your transaction it will evenetually be cancelled. You can use ViaBTC to speed up the transaction for an extra fee.

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