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How to cancel a Bitcoin transaction if unconfirmed

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PHOTO: KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

A Bitcoin user can’t reverse a Bitcoin transaction after confirmation. However, they can cancel a transaction if unconfirmed. A Bitcoin transaction is unconfirmed if the blockchain doesn’t approve it within 24 hours. Miners must confirm every transaction via the mining process. For blockchain to approve a transaction fully, it must get at least three confirmations.

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A Bitcoin transaction may remain unconfirmed for the following primary reasons: 

  • If it’s very recent, a user might have to wait longer to receive confirmation. Even the quickest network takes a minimum of 10 minutes to confirm a transaction.
  • If the transaction fee was too low or not included, it might be unconfirmed. A simple rule that applies to Bitcoin transactions is that smaller amounts have lower chances of getting a successful confirmation.

Miners might not confirm transactions with too low fees. But if the network does not verify your transaction within 24 hours, you can do the following.

Reverse the Unconfirmed Transaction
You can reverse your Bitcoin transaction if unconfirmed within 24 hours. However, ensure that the transaction is genuinely unconfirmed. That means you have to wait for 24 hours. If you don’t get a confirmation within this time, use a reliable block explorer to confirm the status of your TX.

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Since the blockchain is public, you can easily track your transaction. All you need is to enter the transaction ID to follow it with the block explorer. Every Bitcoin transaction requires at least three confirmations to be fully confirmed. If your transaction has two or one approval, you have to wait for a third miner to validate it. That’s because the validation process has already started.

Canceling a Bitcoin Transaction
If you don’t notice any confirmation, you can cancel your transaction.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Use Replace by Fee or RBF Protocol
  • Use Higher Fee Double Spend Transaction

With the RBF Protocol, you broadcast a Bitcoin transaction to the entire network for a second time but with a higher fee. That way, miners pick the transaction faster, thereby canceling the previous expenditure and creating a new one.

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However, your Bitcoin wallet might not support RBF Protocol. Therefore, check whether your wallet allows you to do this first. You can select this option when sending out bitcoins to ensure that you can use it if necessary.

But if your wallet doesn’t allow you to use RBF Protocol, use the double-spend option. That means you create a new transaction with a similar amount. That means sending your Bitcoin transaction a second time with a higher fee.

How to Ensure the Confirmation of Your Transaction
Whether you receive Bitcoin from another user or a crypto exchange like bitcointrader2.com, your wallet should show this update automatically. Failure to confirm the transaction means you can spend the funds again from your wallet. However, this can take even a month. Nevertheless, you can avoid the problem of unconfirmed transactions.

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For instance, you can use the suggested transaction fees suggestion option in your wallet. Changing the recommended amount or lowering it can hinder miners from confirming your transaction. In most cases, the wallet selects the fee a Bitcoin user pays miners automatically. And this reduces the waiting and confirmation hours for the transaction. So, if you don’t want your Bitcoins to remain stuck in the block for hours, don’t change the suggested transaction fees.

Final Thoughts
Blockchain creates a transaction whenever somebody sends Bitcoin. However, confirmation of every transaction involves complex mathematical calculations. Bitcoin transaction confirmation secures the network despite being time-consuming. The recipient gets their Bitcoin after blockchain makes an exchange a part of one block, and that’s how Bitcoin confirmation happens.

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