Authorization Code

DEFINITION of 'Authorization Code'

A generic term that refers to a code or password that identifies the user as authorized to purchase, sell or transfer items, or to enter information into a security-protected space. For example, an authorization code would be required for a vendor to process a credit card transaction on behalf of a customer paying for goods.

BREAKING DOWN 'Authorization Code'

Authorization codes are used for any transaction or entry that has restrictions on which users are entitled to access. For example, only certain individuals will have the authority to approve major expenses, and will probably have an authorization code in the company's records or on a case-by-case basis to complete any approval.

An authorization code is commonly attached to credit card transactions, not only to signal a merchant that the transaction is approved, but also to help identify the transaction in follow-up examinations, such as disputed transactions.