A distributed authorization system and process for authorizing transactions utilizes a host computer communicating with a network of electronic terminals remote from the host computer. It includes storing negative file data in the electronic terminal containing information used to identify accounts for which requested transactions are to be denied, and storing authorization file data in the electronic terminal containing information used to determine whether to authorize a requested transaction. Upon entry of a transaction request, the data is checked against the terminal negative file data and immediately denied if the card account is contained in the terminal's negative file. If the transaction is not denied, authorization logic is performed in the electronic terminal resulting in terminal output denying the request, authorizing the request, or establishing an electronic connection from the terminal to the host computer to obtain authorization from the host computer. In establishing this connection, account data is transmitted from the host back to the remote electronic terminal resulting in terminal output either denying the request or authorizing the request. Also, during such connection, the terminal's authorization file is updated with account data, transmitted from the host computer to the electronic terminal. The completed transaction is stored in a terminal transaction queue file residing in the terminal for subsequent transmission to the host computer, and for use with a transaction request is subsequently entered at the terminal for the same account.