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Credit card declined. What to do?

Credit card declined. What to do?
Business Development Specialist
Yuliia Mamonova

Was your credit card declined? Are you wondering why it was? If so, then this article is for you: we’ve gathered all the common reasons for credit card decline as well as popular credit card decline error messages. So, see what reasons might lie behind the problem.

Hard and soft declines

There are two types of credit card declines: soft and hard.

Soft declines take place when the issuing bank approved your transaction, but somewhere along the way the operation fails. In this case, a simple retry can help you do the trick.

On the other hand, hard declines can be a real pain in the neck, as they occur when the issuing bank declines a transaction for one of the many reasons. A retry attempt won’t help you achieve the desired result.

In this article, we will explore why hard declines occur and how to deal with them.

Why is your credit card declined?

Let’s say, you’re standing in a long line of impatient customers at a famous tourist spot. It feels like you’ve been there for hours when finally your turn comes up. You have a credit card all ready to pay and leave. So, the salesperson swipes it and returns it back to you saying that the payment was declined.

You reply that it’s impossible and ask to swipe the card again only to find out that this move would not do the trick.

Not only that is embarrassing and inconvenient but also a bit dangerous. It’s one thing to get a credit card declined when buying souvenirs. But what if you have no alternative payment methods and you need to pay for something vital?

So, to prevent that from happening, you’d better do your research and figure out possible reasons for a declined credit card. And here they are.

Common reasons behind a declined credit card

  1. You’ve reached your credit limit (or almost have).
    The first and most common reason why your credit card can get declined is overspending. Every credit card has a limit which you cannot exceed. If your balance is creeping up that limit, credit card companies send out emails or other notifications to inform you about the situation. Moreover, they will not let make a purchase that will exceed the above-mentioned limit.
    The solution here is simple: make sure to check your balance frequently to know exactly how much money you have available.
  2. You’re making purchases from multiple locations.
    If you are on a road trip and are buying things as you go, the credit card company might classify such a turn of events as fraud and decline your card until they make sure that it is the cardholder making all these purchases, not thieves.
  3. You’re buying a big item.
    Sometimes the credit card companies decline your card to keep you safe if the purchase you are trying to make is too big. Once they make sure that it is a cardholder using the card for shopping, they unblock the card and allow the holder to perform a transaction declined by the bank.
  4. Your purchase looks suspicious.
    Every customer has his own specific buying pattern. And as soon as the client decides to make a purchase which can only be classified as out-of-the-ordinary the card might get blocked by a bank. Thus, be ready to verify your identity whenever you are trying to purchase an item that is not typically on your shopping list.
  5. You’ve made a typo.
    If you are entering all the credit card information manually, there is a chance that you might have made a typo which results in credit card decline. Go over all the information you entered and make sure it’s all correct. Then try to repeat the transaction.
  6. You’ve recently had a “hold” on your card.
    If you are traveling using a rental car or staying at a hotel, you might have a certain “hold” on your card which is often used to cover for potential damage you might cause. The business owners often freeze certain funds on your account to ensure you have enough funds to pay for the services when the time for final charges comes. If that is the case and the money “held” on your account plus the balance exceed the credit card limit, you won’t be able to use your card until you cover these expenses.
  7. You have an expired credit card.
    This seems like a no-brainer, and yet some customers fail to recognize this problem. Remember to check your credit card’s expiration date and contact your credit card company before it’s too late.
  8. Your account is flagged for fraud (or even closed).
    The credit card companies are entitled to close accounts flagged for fraud. Thus, if your card has been recently used for fraudulent activities, contact the credit card company and request dispute management.

Credit card error messages

All the reasons above might give you a general idea on why your transaction was declined. However, general idea is not enough when it comes to solving the issue. Therefore, whenever you get a chance ask what error message says to know exactly what the problem is.

Here is a list of error messages and their meanings:

  • “Invalid card number.”
    Such a message means that a card number was manually key entered incorrectly. It is easy to fix. Simply check the card number you entered, make sure it is correct and retry the transaction.
  • “No such issuer.”
    Different wording, but the same meaning. This message means that the inserted card number is invalid.
  • “Service not allowed.”
    Sometimes the issuing bank imposes restrictions on collaboration with certain businesses or specific types of transactions (online, offline, etc.) To solve the problem, you need to contact the issuing bank directly.
  • “Insufficient funds.”
    In case you do not have enough funds to cover for the purchase you are about to make, the credit card company can decline your transaction. Deposit funds and retry the attempt again later.
  • “Hold card.”
    When the issuing bank has your card flagged as stolen or lost, you will get this error message whenever trying to make a purchase with this card. Call your bank to specify that it is you, the cardholder, who is trying to use the card to conduct the transaction.
  • “Expired card.”
    If the card expired or was canceled by the issuing bank, a cardholder gets this message when using it to pay for goods and services.
  • “Exceeds withdrawal limits.”
    If there is a limit on the withdrawal, you need to either request your issuing bank to increase that limit or wait until the end of the set period and then retry the attempt.
  • “Activity limit exceeded.”
    In case there is a restriction on a number of transactions you can make within a certain period, then your issuing bank will decline the transaction when that limit is reached.

Now you know why your credit card is declined. So, let’s see what you can do when such a turn of events takes place.

Credit card declined. What to do?

  1. Be calm.
    If you are trying to purchase something in-store when this happens, don’t blame the salesperson for this inconvenience. After all, it is not his or her fault. See if you can repeat the transaction a bit later once you figure out the issue with your credit card.
  2. Get in touch with your issuing bank.
    It is better to solve the problem right away with the issuing bank. So, call them, be ready to answer several security questions and see what you can do to resolve the situation.
  3. Use alternative payment methods.
    Think of a different way to pay for goods and services. By the way, we will talk about alternative payment methods more in the next article. So, stay tuned!

These are the steps you should take whenever your credit card gets declined. We hope this information helped you resolve the situation!

1 COMMENTS

  1. Guest

    Mayson Jeffris

    My card was declined, and this article helped to figure it out. I was at the restaurant on the first date. You guys saved me!
    Thanks.

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