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Authorize Unknown Amount

New Community Member

Authorize Unknown Amount

I'm attempting to create an application where users are connected to a subject matter expert, and then billed for the time used.  Obviously, I have no way of knowing how long any given conversation will be so I can't know an accurate amount to authorize.  Authorizing an arbitrarily large amount and then only capturing the amount used technically works, but would understandably freak people out during checkout.


A long term goal is integrate with PayPal Commerce Platform, so using BrainTree's Vault options seems to be off the table.


Does anyone know the correct way to authorize an unknown amount using PayPal's checkout?

PayPal Employee

Re: Authorize Unknown Amount

Hi @Brian-K 


What a great business model idea. This definitely makes the billing process challenging.


I really think the best way to approach this is to authorize for a set amount, the only capture the portion they actually used. For example, authorize for 1 hour, ensuring you have vaulted the payment method. From there, if they use up a portion of the hour, only capture the portion used. If they use more than that hour, you still have the ability to capture 115% of an authorization, so up to an hour and 9 minutes could be captured. Beyond that, you'd have to authorize for a higher amount with the vaulted payment method, or have a flow that asks them to pay for the time used if you're not vaulting.


This is certainly a tricky model, but you do need to authorize for a set amount and go from there.


I hope this helps!