What Is A Bar Tab? Meaning And Pre Authorization

You recently went to a bar and were asked whether you want to pay the amount after every drink or to make a tab. Now the word “bar tab” is stuck in your head. In technical terms, a tab is keeping records of important information in a browser or a spreadsheet. But what does a bar tab mean in restaurant and bar contexts? Today, we are going to know what is a bar tab, and how it works. We will also discover preauthorization. Before we reach that topic, let’s backtrack and understand what bar tabs mean first.

What Is A Bar Tab?

A Bar Tab is one of the modes to pay for your drinking. If you ever visit a bar, the waiter always asks if you want to pay for each drink and snack (round of drinks) or want to pay for the entire meal all at once. Individual transactions can be a little tiring and time-consuming so most of the bars are opting for a bar tab method. The best thing about a bar tab is that the customers can easily pay with a card and not cash. But why use the “tab” word? Well, a tab is a term for a check or a bill in a restaurant or a bar context. In simple terms, when you are done drinking, you can ask the waiter to bring the tab.

Read More: What Time Do The Bars Close In New York City?

That means you are asking them to bring the entire bill. In the bartender’s language, they ask if you want to open a tab or keep the tab open. If you say yes, you opt for paying for everything upon leaving, if you say no, then you need to pay for every order. And we must say that this is a convenience for bar patrons as well as bartenders. If you are wondering how a bar tab works and want to know the entire procedure, then jump to the next section.

What Is A Bar Tab? Meaning And Pre Authorization

How Does A Bar Tab Work?

We briefly mentioned what a bar tab is. And now you would be wondering — how does this work, anyway? If we put it more simply, a bar tab is a running bill that allows the customers to drink throughout their visit on one bill in the end. This new feature gives peace of mind to the customers. Plus, it is a convenient way to order as many drinks as you want without retrieving your card for every transaction.

Apart from that, a bar tab also allows the guests to stay at the bar for a longer period and spend more time during their visit. Calculating gratuity each time and having multiple bills at hand, customers receive one bill that includes food and drinks. The entire procedure starts when the bar staff keeps the credit card of their guests until the tab (or account) gets settled. Now you must be asking yourself, for that, does the bartender need to keep track of all the tabs of guests sitting in the bar?

Guide On: How Long Is Bartending School?

Well, the bar staff no longer needs to keep tabs on the drinks and snacks in their mind. All thanks to modern-day equipment, their work has become easier than before. This helps the bar staff to save more time without transactions each time and focus on other work. Thus, it is a plus point for both parties – the guests can have a fun time with their close ones and bartenders can make drinks without any hassle.

What Is A Bar Tab?

If the guests do not want to run the tab, they can pay via cash and get things over with quickly. Besides, most of the time, the dive bar asks the client to pay the amount after each drink. But on the other hand, the regular bars have a lot of payment options. In some cases, if the bar staff knows the customer well or if the guest is regular, the customers can even pay the amount some days later or even after a week.

But we have seen that some classier bars swipe the credit card first before running the tab to make sure the entire bill is paid for. In some venues, the staff also gives a card with a tab number that needs to be presented whenever a guest orders a drink. Now the main question arises, if the bar staff is not taking notes of every drink, then who is keeping the tabs? Well, preauthorization aka POS system is their savior.  Let’s take a look at what it is and what it does in more detail in the next section.

Preauthorization: How Does It Work?

Those of you who own or looking to open a bar or a restaurant, already know what preauthorization is. When it comes to such business, the POS system is a technological advancement that is growing at a rapid pace. If a business wants to give the best customer service, then they opt for preauthorization.

No, we are not talking about the healthcare kind. Though these two share a few similarities, they are still different. Let’s suppose you visit a bar and order a drink and some munchies. The bar staff uses preauthorization, also known as preauthorized transactions or preauth, this works by using your credit or debit card to open a bar tab. 

What Is A Bar Tab? Meaning And Pre Authorization

Why Is It Used?

Well, the bar business used it to ensure that their guests have adequate funds on their credit cards before offering them any kind of bar services. Plus, it is a convenient way to make sure that each guest’s order is attributed to their card. Nowadays, there are many types of POS preauthorization systems that store the guest’s information and make sure that they won’t be stuck if their bill has insufficient funds. If you want to fully understand how important is preauthorization, then we have shared some of the pointers related to the POS system below.

The preauthorization of debit and credit cards allows bar staff to:

1. Easily swipe a customer’s debit card or credit card.

2. Secures and saves all the information about the debit card and credit cards as their bar tab.

3. Check that the debit card or the credit card has enough money with the help of a temporary hold.

Check More: Is It Weird To Go To A Bar Alone?


25 Broadway, New York, NY
10004, USA