Dealing With a Declined Credit Card
Few things are more embarrassing than having your credit card declined, but try not to overreact if it happens to you. Keep a cool head and try to figure out what’s going on.
What to Do First
Make sure you’re using the right card and that’s still valid. For example, if your credit card issuer recently sent you a new credit card, you may have gotten them mixed up. You could be using an expired card by mistake. Check the expiration date to be sure your card is still valid before taking extra steps.
For purchases that can’t wait, use another payment method like another credit card or your debit card. Just be sure that you have enough available credit or money in your checking account before you swipe.
If you don’t want to use another method of payment, ask the cashier to hold the purchase while you figure out what’s going on. Many stores will hold your purchase for at least 24 hours. Hopefully, that will be enough time to figure out what’s going on with your credit card. Some stores may write down your card information and process the transaction later. They may do this if there’s a technical reason for your card being declined.
Your credit card issuer will be the best place to find out why your transaction was declined. Give them a call as soon as you can. Be courteous to other shoppers and step out of line if you’re calling while you’re still in the store.
Explanations for a Declined Credit Card
There are a few explanations for a declined credit card transaction. The card issuer could be experiencing some type of technical issue that makes them unable to approve transactions. There’s nothing you can do about that except to wait until the card issuer solves the problem on their end. The card issuer will probably resolve this issue quickly since network issues will cost thousands of lost fees.
You may have reached your credit card’s “soft” daily spending limit. Some credit card issuers limit the amount you can charge in a day based on a company policy, your credit account, or your normal spending habits. So, your card might be declined if you’ve been shopping a lot or you try to make a purchase that’s larger than what you normally make.
If the card issuer suspects fraud on your account, they may temporarily suspend your account until they can confirm that you’re still in possession of your card and that your account hasn’t been compromised. Your card issuer may ask you to confirm the security code on the back of your credit card or to verify your last transaction.
If you’re travelling internationally and didn’t call your card issuer first, that could be the reason for your declined transaction. Always contact your card issuer before travelling internationally to be sure your transactions will go through and not flagged as fraud.
Your card could be declined because you don’t have enough available credit for the purchase. It’s always a good idea to confirm your available credit before making a credit card purchase, especially a big one. It’s as simple as logging into your online account or calling your card issuer’s 1-800 number. Credit card issuers can reduce your credit limit, so don’t assume your available credit is the same as it was last month, or even last week.
Of course, the worst of all reasons for a declined credit card is that your account has been cancelled. You could ask your card issuer to re-open your account, but they may not be willing to do so, depending on the reason they closed the account in the first place. If this is the case, you’ll have to use a different card, your checking account, or postpone the purchase all together.