Why Is My Card Being Declined?

Updated on March 12, 2024

At a Glance

  • When your credit card gets declined, it could be due to an error during processing or other issues.
  • Common reasons for declined transactions include incorrect information, maxed-out credit limits, expired cards, input errors, holds placed by companies, exposure to threats, or suspicious activity.
  • To resolve the issue, recheck information, make payments to clear limits, obtain a new card if expired, verify input accuracy, address holds, and contact the bank if necessary.

In social situations, having your credit card declined can be highly inconvenient and awkward. But it may also be worrying if you do not know why your card was declined.

Your credit card might have been declined for a variety of reasons, ranging from a simple technical glitch to more significant issues, such as potential fraud or scams on your account.

What Does It Mean When Your Credit Card Gets Declined?

One of the reasons your card might have declined could be that something went wrong during the processing of your order, which meant it did not complete. Try rechecking the information you entered, like your billing ZIP code, to avoid the situation. If that is not the case, then there might be other issues causing the decline. Ultimately, you will not be able to use your card until the problem is resolved.

However, the good news is that, often, declined transactions are for your own safety. Credit card companies have advanced over time. This means that when a card is used in a way that hints at fraud, the activity is automatically detected.

Once a card has been marked, it will continue getting declined no matter where you use it. Resolving the issue is one of the only ways you can get it to work again. This can be as simple as calling the credit card company to clarify that the activity leading to your card being flagged was your own.

Six Reasons a Credit Card Can Be Declined

As mentioned before, suspected fraud or scams are among the top reasons why credit cards get declined. Try double-checking that the correct pin was entered, that funds are accessible, and that the card is still active. In rare situations, information such as your ZIP code may differ from what you submitted to your bank. A daily spending restriction could also have been exceeded by making expensive transactions.

Your Credit Limit Is Maxed Out

You will not be able to borrow any more cash unless you make a payment to the credit card company. Not only does maxing out your credit card make it difficult to make payments, but it also hurts your credit score. In general, you should not be reaching near each card’s credit limit, so if your credit card is maxed out, you have gone far above that credit usage threshold.

You will need to make a payment on your card right away if you want to use it again and protect your credit score from plummeting.

Your Credit Card Has Expired

Check to see whether your card has expired. Prior to your credit card expiration, your bank should have mailed you a new one. Nevertheless, not all banks are expected to provide it to you on time. If your credit card has expired, you must contact your issuer to obtain a new one.

Your issuing bank will notify you when your card is about to expire and will send you a new one before it does. However, if you have just moved, be sure your issuer has your current contact details, or your replacement card may get delivered to the wrong address or never arrive. After receiving it, you will need to activate it over the phone or internet and use it for any future payments after discarding the old one.

You Made an Error Inputting Your Card Info

If you are making an online purchase, you will need to provide a multi-digit credit card number, the card’s expiration date, the card’s CVV number, the delivery address, and the billing address to the vendor. That is a lot of data, and there are a lot of ways to mistype or skip a digit.

Before buying something, remember to check your payment details twice to make sure you have not missed anything.

A Company Has Placed A Hold On Your Card

When a customer checks into a hotel or rents a car, hotels and rental vehicle businesses typically place a hold on their credit card for a specified amount of money. The goal of the hold is to ensure that when the final costs are computed, the client will have sufficient accessible credit.re the burden of their vigilance.

Contact your credit card provider to confirm that your card has not been hacked. This will generally clear up any concerns and issues.

Your Card Has Been Exposed to a Threat

Referencing the above point, credit card firms have grown quite good at detecting suspected fraudulent activity. As a result, if your account details have be

When your final bill is calculated and credited to your card, the hold should be lifted. However, until it is, you may have less spending power than you believe, resulting in a decline.

Your Bank Found Suspicious Activity

Credit card issuers are adept at detecting unauthorized transactions made with your card, and they can frequently identify them before you can. If your card looks to have been used outside of your normal residential area or to make many similar charges, the issuer’s fraud detection systems may be triggered.

On the other hand, issuers throw a broad net to catch credit offenders—sometimes too broad. Credit card providers may identify normal transactions as possible fraud activity and suspend the card’s use if they believe it has been hacked. They think they are preventing theft, but you are the one who has to endure your card becoming temporarily invalid.

Your provider may take actions to prevent your card from being used for illicit transactions, including suspending all activity. If you bought anything on the internet at a site that was not safe or paid using your card at a store that might have been the victim of a cyberattack, the transaction could be denied.

Call your credit card provider if your card has been refused and you are not sure why. They may be attempting to safeguard you against fraud.

What to Do if Your Credit Card Is Declined

There is generally a straightforward explanation for why credit cards are denied. Here is what to do if you are attempting to pay at a restaurant or store and receive the unpleasant notification that your card has been declined.

Stay Calm and Be Kind

This may sound like common sense, but it is easy to forget when there is a big line of people behind you who are presumably wondering why you are taking so long.

Re-enter the Details or Swipe the Card Again

It could have been a technical glitch. Request that the cashier swipe your card again if you are positive you have enough credit available on your card. More often than not, the card works on the second attempt.

Choose a Different Form of Payment

You can take care of your bill and leave if you have another method of payment. When you get home, contact your credit card provider or bank to see what the reason behind the decline could have been.

Until You Come Back, Provide Your ID as Security

Provide your ID and ask the cashier if you may pay later if you do not have an alternative payment method. This might not work; however, it does not hurt to try since you are not left with many other options. You can even give them a copy of some official documentation like your driver’s license so you can leave and arrange a way to pay the bill later.

Contact Your Bank or Credit Card Company

Contact the card company or your bank to figure out why your card was denied after you have figured out a way to pay your tab or bill. The card company or bank should definitely help you verify that you have enough credit or balance on your card or if they mistakenly detected fraud.

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Lastly, do not be alarmed if your credit card is denied. It is natural to be anxious at the prospect of your private details slipping into the hands of the wrong people. Still, most of the time, you are dealing with a minor mistake or an overzealous scam protection system designed with your monetary security in mind. It is essential to monitor and ensure your card is in good working order, but unless you feel you have been the victim of theft and fraud, there is typically no need to be frightened.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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