Why Does My Card Keep Getting Declined?

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Why does my card keep getting declined

It can be inconvenient or embarrassing when your card is declined. Whether you’re holding up the line in the grocery store or trying to buy a new computer, no one wants their debit or credit card declined. But it can happen to anyone. Many times, your card is declined for harmless reasons like travel or unusual purchases. A card decline doesn’t affect your credit score, although other related factors like missed card payments will affect your credit score. 

Read on for 12 reasons ranging from concerning to harmless that your card was declined. You’ll also find out what to do about it and how to prevent a declined card. 

Why was my card declined?

When your card is declined, it doesn’t always mean it’s your fault. But in order to resolve this issue, you need to understand why it was declined in the first place. Many reasons for a card being declined are simply security features to protect you from fraudulent charges. But a transaction could be declined for more serious reasons like insufficient funds or missed payments.  

To clear your credit card after the card is declined, you will usually need to contact your credit card issuer. In some cases, such as a large transaction, they may send you an automated email to confirm the transaction. While your card could be declined for more than one reason, there is usually one main reason. 

12 reasons your card was declined

Your credit card issuer will be able to explain why your card was declined. Here are 12 possible reasons why your credit card or debit card was declined. 

You hit your credit limit

Nearly all credit cards have a maximum limit of credit. A card-issuer rejection will almost certainly happen if you go beyond your credit limit. 

Spending more than 30% of your credit card’s available funds has a negative impact on your credit score. It is ideal to keep your credit card utilization low and preferably at 10%.

Insufficient funds

One of the main reasons debit cards are declined is because of insufficient funds. Unlike a credit card, a debit card is taking these funds out of your checking account. If you do not have enough money to cover the cost of your purchase, it will prevent the transaction from going through.

You hit your transaction limit

Often banks instill transaction limits on debit cards, which can be one of the reasons your card is declined. These purchase limits usually range from around $2,000 to $7,000 per day. 

The amount depends on the bank and your account. It is important to diversify your spending if you know you will be making large purchases in one day to prevent this from happening.

Travel restrictions

If you are traveling outside the country and did not alert your bank, sometimes your card will be declined. If the bank is not aware of your travel, it could flag the transaction as potential fraud or theft. If you are going on vacation or relocating, notify your bank to prevent this problem. Many credit card issuers will allow you to set up travel alerts on their website as well. 

Incorrect payment information

Sometimes your card is declined because you provided incorrect information. This is especially true of online shopping. If you put the wrong CVV or expiration date, for example, your credit card will be declined. Make sure your card number, expiration date, ZIP code, PIN, and CVV are all accurate to rule out this possibility. 

If you get a transaction decline because you put in the wrong information, you can usually make the charge immediately after providing the correct information. Credit card issuers decline transactions with incorrect information to protect your account from fraud. 

Damaged card

Cards are prone to damage. If you have coins in your wallet, they can scratch your credit card’s magnetic strip, which will eventually make it unreadable. If your card is bent or the PIN chip is damaged, you should get a replacement card so machines can pick up your card’s information. 

No-touch transaction chips are even more susceptible to malfunctioning. Even a little water or time next to a cell phone can make the no-touch feature stop working. In this case, the card may still work inserted into the card reader or online, but it’s worth getting a replacement card that functions. 

Missed payments

If you have a history of missed payments on your card, the bank can decline any new transactions until the overdue amount has been paid. Beyond declined payments, it’s especially important to pay off any overdue payments because those can negatively impact your credit score. To ensure you are caught up with all of your payments, log into your online bank account and check for any overdue amounts and the current amount due. 

Large purchases

When you go to purchase something expensive, your card can be declined. This could be for two reasons. First, the bank might flag the transaction as suspicious. The other possibility is that the purchase exceeds your credit limit. Examples of purchases that may be flagged include computers, iPads, large furniture purchases, or any other purchase that either exceeds your credit limit or is significantly more than you normally charge on your credit card.

Unusual purchases

Like large purchases, unusual purchases are anything outside of your usual spending patterns. Credit card issuers use analytics to understand your spending patterns and may flag anything unusual.  What might be normal for one consumer might be flagged for another person. 

If you make a large purchase with a retailer you do not normally purchase goods or services from, this can alert card issuers and cause them to be alarmed. In turn, they might prevent the charge from going through just in case.

Expired or deactivated card

When your card expires, you can no longer use it to make purchases. Your card will usually expire on the last day of its expiration month so it is important to get a replacement card before this date. If your card has been deactivated for fraudulent or suspicious activity, you may need to request a replacement card. 

Suspicious activity 

If your card is making abnormal purchases, your card issuer can flag these transactions as suspicious activity. If you are not the one making these purchases, contact your bank immediately because someone may have your card’s information. If this is the case, you will need to request a replacement card to protect yourself and your bank account.

Card type is not accepted

Some stores only accept certain types of credit cards. If you tried purchasing an item through a store that does not accept your card type, this can result in your card being declined. Try using another card or cash to prevent this from happening. If in doubt, ask the store whether it accepts your credit card type. 

What do I do if my card is declined? 

Regardless of why your card was declined, there are things you can do. To resolve this issue as quickly as possible, here are some tips on how to fix it, whether your debit card or credit card was declined. 

Debit card

If your debit card is declined, the first thing you need to do is call your financial institution directly. They can help explain why your card was declined and what needs to be done. 

A representative can assist you in resetting your PIN, verifying the desired transaction, increasing your withdrawal amount, and unfreezing your account. If you need to request a replacement card, they can help you with this as well.

Credit card

If you’ve verified that you input all the correct information for your credit card, the next step is to contact your financial institution. A card issuer customer service representative can help you figure out why the transaction was declined. They can remove any blocks from suspicious activities or declined transactions. If your card was declined because of an overdue balance, you can pay by phone and it should be resolved almost instantly.

How to prevent your card from being declined 

To reduce the chances of your card being declined, there are some habits you should form. First, look at your card’s balance to make sure you are not missing any overdue payments. Next, be sure to notify your bank if you are traveling. And if you think you have a damaged card, you can request a new one. You’ll also want to double-check that the retailer accepts your card type. 

How to resolve card issuer rejections

Although your card being declined can be an annoyance or stress-inducing, there are ways to prevent it from happening. Make sure to keep tabs on all transactions and speak with your bank if there has been any suspicious activity. 

There are many harmless reasons why your card could be declined, which means the first step is to pinpoint the cause. You may have to contact your card issuer to help get your card working normally again.

Tips to prevent card issuer rejection

The reason for having your card declined is often something simple like a damaged card or unusual purchases. But to avoid a declined card, you’ll want to regularly monitor your account and inform the credit card issuer ahead of time if you plan to make a large or unusual purchase. 

Preventing card issuer rejection follows the same principles as building good credit history: Make on-time payments and keep your credit utilization low. While a declined card can be embarrassing, you can usually get it resolved quickly.


Why is my card being declined?

Your credit card could be declined for many reasons, including an expired or damaged credit card, signs of fraud or suspicious activity, or being over your credit limit.

Why is my card being declined when I have money?

Your credit or debit card could be declined even if you have money and have made all payments on time. Suspicious or unusual activity or a charge over the credit limit could be why your credit card is declined.

Does a card decline affect my credit score?

A declined card doesn’t affect your credit score. But the reasons your card could be declined, such as a high balance or late payments, will affect your credit score.

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