Credit Card Declined Codes: What Do They Mean? | Shift Processing

Credit Card Declined Codes: What Do They Mean?

What are Credit Card Declined Codes?

girl trying to figure out why her credit card was declined

Credit card declined codes can appear for many reasons. They can occur because an activity limit on your card was hit, or because a purchase on your card was deemed as suspicious. Whatever the reason for your card getting declined, they are a way of tracking payments that aren’t checking the required boxes in order to achieve a successful payment.

Why Credit Card Declined Codes are Issued

These response codes are issued to protect everyone involved in a transaction. They are meant to protect merchants, the merchant’s account and cardholders from suspected fraud, as well as businesses from payment processing a purchase that the cardholder can’t actually afford. 

Finally, they protect the card provider from getting too much charged on a card that won’t be paid back in full by the card holder. Credit card declined codes are actually beneficial to all parties involved. 

If you get hit with a declined code, don’t panic. Determine the issue, fix it, and carry on with the solution in place.

How Credit Card Decline Codes are Issued

These alerts will show up on the terminal screen after a card is run through the terminal. If you get a credit card declined message, you may not have even known that this would happen to you. So if they show up, you’ll probably be surprised to see it. 

What Can Be Done About Credit Card Declined Codes

There can be many reasons for a credit card getting declined. It can be something as simple as the card having a configuration error code that prevents it from effectively running through the terminal. However, it can also be as serious as credit card theft. 

Be sure to contact your credit card company as soon as possible to ensure that if it is something serious, the problem will not escalate beyond something that can easily be resolved. 

For instance, if you have an address verification failed code, it could be something as simple as just verifying your address and then trying the purchase again.

So, take any declining of your credit card very seriously, as you can’t be sure what caused it until you contact your credit card company.

List of Credit Card Declined Codes Explained


What it means


Ask the customer to call their bank to find out why the card was declined


The card expired or has been stolen; Could result in a “hard decline”, where the business should take the customer’s card


Do not honor the transaction


The issuing bank of this card considers the user’s account to be fraudulent


The transaction trying to be issued is associated with an invalid card


The entered amount exceeded the limit on the credit card.


The card number is invalid or incorrect


No credit card issuer with the first four numbers of the card


Re-enter the card because of the occurrence of an unknown error


Unknown error occurred during authorization


Card is lost or stolen or has been reported stolen


Stolen card or lost card


Customer’s card has had the activity or withdrawal limit exceeded


The card is expired


Card is not approved for the type of transaction that was attempted


The credit card system isn’t approved for the type of transaction


Occurs if the system can’t accept credit cards of a certain brand


The CVV code was entered incorrectly


Invalid merchant; Issue with the system communicating the transaction, system may need a file update


Unknown reason for error


Problem with the customer’s account associated with the card


There is an error with the credit card system

What Does Declined Credit Card Mean?

When a credit card is declined, it simply means that it cannot be accepted at the present time and will result in a declined transaction. A declined credit card can mean many different things, depending on the code received and may even work upon attempting the transaction again. 

Why is My Credit Card Not Working?

If you or your customer’s credit card isn’t working, it has likely been declined. There is no way of knowing why this has happened without either receiving an error or credit card declined code, or contacting you or your customer’s bank. The customer should contact their issuing bank to get an in-depth reason behind the credit card’s failure to work.

What Does Declined for CVV Failure Mean?

This error is most often associated with incorrectly entering the CVV code into the terminal. It registers as a failure because it is not the correct CVV code associated with the credit card that is being used. 

Why is My Debit Card Being Declined When I Have Money in My Account?

If your debit card is declined and becomes a restricted card, even when you have money left on the credit card, it could be the result of a format error with the credit card terminal or could be a type of transaction that causes the issuing bank to question its authenticity. 

Though it may appear at first that you had insufficient funds for the transaction, it’s possible that other reasons are behind your card getting declined.

For instance, if a large transaction amount is spent on your card at a more irregular business, it might cause the financial institutions to question the legitimacy of the purchase. 

If this happens on an attempted purchase, contact your bank to get the purchase approved and then try again.

Ways for a Business to Accept Credit Cards

Businesses have many different options for how to accept credit cards. Smart terminals are an option that allow for NFC, or Near Field Communication. This technology allows cards to be just hovered above the terminal for acceptance and accepts mobile payments options like Apple Pay or another mobile app.

There are also POS options that can even help you run your business. POS systems can contain software like customer management in addition to accepting cards. Customer management essentially helps you manage your customers and attempt to keep them returning to your business.

There are also more standard terminal options that have a chip reader and a place to swipe the card as well.

What Do I Do if My Credit Card is Declined?

If your credit card is declined, the very first thing you should do is contact your bank to make sure that everything is in order. 

It could be something as simple as a credit card processing error by the credit card terminal. 

If this is the case, you have nothing to worry about and can feel safe from any type of security violation and continue to use your card at other institutions. 

Steps to Follow When Your Credit Card is Declined

  • Step One
  • Step two
  • step Three

Attempt the fix.

If your bank gives you a solution that can be applied, give it a shot. A common solution is to simply get a new card, as your previous one may be past the expiration dates or might have been stolen.

If your solution is more complex, like the credit limit on your card has been hit, work with your bank to find out what the next steps for you specifically should be.

A Declined Credit Card Won’t Ruin Your Life

Credit cards get declined for all different kinds of reasons. Many times, it is not anything that cannot be fixed. There are steps that you can take to ensure that you’re protected right now, and that you will stay protected in the future. 

For specifics on why your card might have been declined, you should contact your bank. They’ll be able to give you relevant and detailed information on your specific credit account, save account or bank account and advise you on how you should continue going forward. Until then, use cash or a separate card.

If you’re a business that sees many customers get their cards declined, it’s possible that there is an issue with your credit card terminal. Contact your payment processor if you notice this trend so that they can resolve the issue. 

Accept another method of payment until it can be fixed and find if there is an issue with the system itself. If your decline ratios are getting too high, contact your processor and fix the issue or they may decide to pull your processing.

Credit card declining can protect all parties involved in the transaction from theft, fraud, or even an accidental duplicate transaction. When a system declines the transaction, it can actually be a benefit.

The only party that is not protected by declined credit cards are scammers who are trying to steal your information and take advantage of you. 

Their job would be far easier if credit cards couldn’t get declined, and instead all purchases went through every time. So if your card is declined, don’t stress before you contact your bank or do additional research.

By contacting your credit card’s issuing bank, you may find that the solution to the problem is far easier to fix than you originally expected.

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