Monero (XMR) is a decentralized, private, secure and untraceable cryptocurrency that is freely available to everyone. There are many vendors accepting cryptocurrencies and Monero being a top privacy coin you can use it to buy goods and services. Unlike traditional currency; Monero remains completely in your control and in your wallet. You are your own bank where you are completely responsible for your funds. This currency offers complete control however before you can use this coin you must first have a basic understanding of how blockchain and cryptocurrencies work.
One of the most frequently asked question by Monero beginners is “why is the balance locked in my wallet?”. This question normally comes from a user who is new to cryptocurrency, just setup Monero wallet and made their first transaction. In both GUI and CLI wallet you’ll notice your account having two balances. One is locked balance and another one is unlocked balance. This is similar to available and pending balance in Bitcoin core wallet; only the terminology differs.
So what exactly does locked (balance) and unlocked balance mean in the Monero wallet? Why does it show different balance sometimes and how long will it take for the balance to get unlocked?
Locked balance and unlocked balance – Monero GUI / CLI
Your Monero wallet (both GUI / CLI) contains all of your transactions that is both send and received coins. Head to history tab and you’ll find all the transaction details; it shows when the transaction occurred, the total amount you received, sent and the fees used. Even though if you keep track of all your transactions the way the balance is shown by your wallet might confuse you at times.
Sometimes it shows two completely different balance and there are occurrence where your unlocked balance goes to 0. All you need to remember is the balance (locked) that is shown in your wallet is the total amount of XMR received minus the XMR sent.
Balance: The locked balance is the actual Monero you have in your wallet but cannot be spend currently.
Unlocked Balance: The unlocked balance is the total amount of Monero that is in your wallet long enough and are available for you to spend at the moment.
Let’s say you just setup your Monero wallet. Once the wallet is completely synchronized you send some Monero from exchange to your wallet. Now this transferred amount will show up in balance which will remain locked for a while. In order to spend or use this balance amount it should reflect in unlocked balance. So why does the balance amount stay locked and how do I unlock this balance so that I can spend them?
Unlocking locked balance
First of all you need to note that balance that are locked cannot be unlocked manually. This process is automatic and all your locked balance will get unlocked after certain confirmations.
Balance: 3.250000000000, unlocked balance: 0.000000000000
In the above example the balance is the total balance. It is locked because the transaction is new and it has not got enough confirmations. Monero wallet is designed in such a way that it doesn’t allow user to spend newly received coins immediately. Before you can spend the new XMR coins the transaction must have 10 confirmations on the blockchain. Each confirmation is one block and in Monero the block time is 2.5 minutes. So for a transaction to get confirmed it will roughly take around 25 minutes. After 10 confirmations that is after 25 minutes (approximately) the balance that is locked in your wallet will be unlocked automatically. This to avoid double spend and is a measure for increased security and untraceability. To better understand this we suggest you to read this article about block confirmations.
Unlocked balance differs after sending XMR
Now here is another scenario where all of a sudden your unlocked XMR balance goes to zero. For example let’s say you have 100 XMR coins unlocked in your wallet. Now out of this 100 you may wish to spend 20 XMR coins. After spending these coins you’ll notice the unlocked balance showing zero but your locked balance shows the correct amount you own which is 80 XMR. Again you need to wait for 10 blocks or 25 minutes to get the remaining balance (80 XMR) unlocked. Why is that?
This is because all your 100 XMR coins are in one output. Consider this scenario as spending a 100 dollar bill to pay a merchandise worth $20. After 20 bucks the merchant will pay you back the change amount which is 80 bucks. Similarly your wallet splits the coins; sends the part to the recipient and the remaining change back to yourself. Now since both the transactions are new you have to wait for 10 confirmations before it gets unlocked and becomes available for you to spend. Let’s now consider that you have accumulated 100 Monero coins in 5 separate transactions with each 20 Monero. Now if you spend 20 XMR then your remaining 80 XMR balance will still be unlocked.
We hope this clears your doubt regarding your Monero wallet balance. If you found this helpful then you may also like this following topics.