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

Last updated on August 24th, 2017 at 02:16 pm

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

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Damion
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Damion

I have a Coinbase to Bitcoin Wallet transfer pending now for over 60 hours if I think is 99825421061faf4b8e094df720dd153eee25f0e241c1c9b00ca893fe9019759e
Please can you help, Coinbase have already taken a fee for this but nothing is happening.

Zsofia Elek
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Zsofia Elek

Hi Damion, I don’t see this transaction ID on the blockchain, are you sure this is the correct txid?

Damion
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Member
Damion

Yes could it be that Coinbase have not even broadcast this?

This attached is what I got when I tried to decode the ID in my first message.

E40F3391-8625-4549-B595-35B2129573A3.png
ShyVCC
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Member
ShyVCC

Please help me check why my tranfer has no comfrimation for more 2 day now. thanks
Txid 55f33cc2ef6b704139891d4783f9aeda9c6b0a83e41b0425c9929430ea940b65
My wallet 17UcbEGX27xSMDgK4n1cUWJ1PWgcXG8haH

Zsofia Elek
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Zsofia Elek

Hi ShyVCC, this transaction already received couple of confirmations by now so it will go through soon if not already done.

ShyVCC
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Member
ShyVCC

I used VIABTC to push the command but the system was successful. I do not know if my BTC has been changed to another wallet?
55f33cc2ef6b704139891d4783f9aeda9c6b0a83e41b0425c9929430ea940b65

Zsofia Elek
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Member
Zsofia Elek

The transaction with this txid has been confirmed already you can check this on the blockchain.info for example. After this transaction I can see other transferred happened in the wallet, all of them seems to be confirmed by now. Have you initiated these transactions?

ShyVCC
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Member
ShyVCC

TIXD shows that my money is being transferred to another wallet. Can you please check that this transaction is really pending? Or have traded successfully to another wallet then. I am very worried. thanks

Matt Stivers
Member
Member
Matt Stivers

I have been waiting for 4 days for confirmation of transfer from 99 bitcoins to my wallet. I have over 13,000 sathish. 1GJxYhmCHKCrtRjgocsNEgWDoHwngSSUxz Is my wallet address that is waiting for it. I guess if it does not get picked up can not trust 99 bitcoins to get it taken care of.

Zsofia Elek
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Member
Zsofia Elek

Hi Matt, because of the high volume of the Bitcoin network at the beginning of this week, some transactions get delayed. Small transactions like we have in our faucet are the first to be affected by this. It should go through by the end of the week. I’m very sorry for this delay if you don’t get the money until end of this week, please contact us here: https://99bitcoins.com/contact/

jack solof
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jack solof

Please help me check why my transfer has no confirmation
for more than 4 days now .
79181db4efe2bdd7215a22b5eb4e294570bea879

Steven Hay
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Member
Steven Hay
Hi Jack, Although this transaction included an extremely high fee, the mempool was very full on Sunday when this transaction occurred. It’s seems likley that if you were to rebroadcast this transaction now, it would be included in the very next block. If you’re the recipient and not the sender of this transaction, then the very high fee is not your problem (so to speak). In which case, you may paste the hex format of your tx into a rebroadcasting service. This will refresh the tx in the mempool, at which point I imagine miners will be happy to accept… Read more »
Anson
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Anson

Can you help with the status of these two transfers? Its been almost 24 hours now

1BABUhAB7976cP7qVcAEfUrtmitYZYkTw7

1GKHoWnZr9vpFjzZas6138fc1QrrAndiHp

Zsofia Elek
Admin
Member
Zsofia Elek

Hi Anson, these are two Bitcoin address, not transaction IDs. From this all you can see that the last transaction happened on these account 2 days ago which have been confirmed by now.

shola
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Member
shola

i received a bitcoin to my bittrex account and it has been showing pending deposits in my account for more than five days now. please what could have been the cause.
72eeb24123c60994b115bf1226ff01f1738802fc317a342931c5c338f4366743

Zsofia Elek
Admin
Member
Zsofia Elek

Hi Shola, this transaction is still pending on the blockchain because of the low fee, this is why your Bittrex account shows it pending. Eventually, it will go through, the network is just still crowded at the moment.

shola
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Member
shola

Thanks for the respond. please what can i do to make it faster because is getting to a week plus now. how can i avoid such delay in case of next time. thank you.

Zsofia Elek
Admin
Member
Zsofia Elek

Hi Shola, you can use a transaction accelerator like ViaBTC to include your transaction in the next block for an extra fee. As for the future, please go through the article and make sure your fee is high enough to go through the network as the cheapest and fastest way.

shola
Guest
Member
shola

Thank you for your respond. i made use of the transaction accelerator and it was confirmed but is not reflecting in my balance.
please what could have been the issues .

Zsofia Elek
Admin
Member
Zsofia Elek

Hi Shola, if the transaction has been confirmed on the blockchain already, please follow up with your wallet provider when will it be reflected in your balance.

shola
Guest
Member
shola

thanks for the respond. please it was sent from blockchain to bittrex wallet. please i want to know whom to follow up with is it bittrex or blockchain. thank you.

Zsofia Elek
Admin
Member
Zsofia Elek

Hi Shola, in this case, Bittrex Support Team should be able to help you.

shola
Guest
Member
shola

i have sent a mail to bittrex support team for 2 days now but no respond yet from the support team. just border here.

takko
Guest
Member
takko

Hi! I am supposed to receive a deposit but it is not coming through..

Will it eventually come through or what will happen if it never gets mined? Thanks in advance

068847f66f244b6911814c1a2ab188fd08174deaab6f694354c0a8bc377d9588

Zsofia Elek
Admin
Member
Zsofia Elek

Hi Takko, this transaction is pending as well because of the low fee, it will eventually go through but it might take several days.

takko
Guest
Member
takko

Bump

RichIeRich23
Guest
Member
RichIeRich23

Hello,

I know this transaction is extremely low. Any ideas or comments are appreciated ae7ae0e102ffd62755abdddf8fcff961fdbd860ae6c974af5ad0846c1a3ba3e9

Zsofia Elek
Admin
Member
Zsofia Elek

Hi RichieRich, this transaction has received many confirmation by now.

Jerry
Guest
Member
Jerry

Please help me check why my transfer has no confirmation
for more than 24hrs now .
50ef777abad81779d06e7b8c77192b9f63b19df106749307690829c63f95194c

Zsofia Elek
Admin
Member
Zsofia Elek

Hi Jerry, because of the high volume in the Bitcoin network some transactions get delayed, small transactions like yours are the first to be affected by this. Eventually, this transaction will go through.

Paolo
Guest
Member
Paolo

This saved my ass from having a transaction being stuck in the mempool for 2 days! After a quick calculation of the bytes x satoshi rate, then calculating the exchange rate of satoshi’s to BTC i finally figured it out

Thank you!

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