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Why Was My Card Declined? 10 Reasons

A declined credit or debit card can be not only frustrating but embarrassing. As you fumble through your purse or wallet, you may feel like all eyes are on you as you quickly try to resolve the issue.

Card declines are a common experience that can happen to anyone. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to resolve (and even prevent) this from happening by following a few simple steps. Read on to discover the top ten reasons for a declined debit or credit card.

Why Was My Credit Card Declined?

A merchant can decline your credit card for a variety of reasons. Here are the five most common ones:

1. Credit Limit

If you’ve reached your credit limit, your card may be declined to prevent you from overspending. This safety measure helps you avoid accumulating too much debt and protects the card issuer from risk. Check your available credit regularly and make timely payments to avoid reaching your limit.

2. Missed Payments

Missed payments can trigger a decline, since it may indicate to the issuer that you cannot manage your credit responsibly. Staying on top of your bills is crucial to maintaining a healthy credit score and avoiding declines. Set up reminders or automate your payment schedule to ensure you never miss a due date.

3. Travel-Related Issues

Using your credit card while traveling can lead to declined transactions. This situation often happens if you don’t inform your credit card company in advance about your travel plans. Your card issuer might suspect fraudulent activity and decline the purchases—but this is all to protect your funds from unauthorized users.

4. Large or Unusual Purchases

Credit card companies often flag large or unusual purchases (e.g., spending upwards of your limit on one purchase). While this security measure may seem annoying, it also helps to protect you from fraud. Immediately call the number on the back of your card to verify the transaction and confirm it’s legitimate.

5. Credit Card Expiration or Update

It’s very easy to forget the expiration date on the back of your card. Credit card companies often send out a new card in the mail several weeks before it expires, so activate it as soon as you receive it.

Why Was My Debit Card Declined?

As with credit cards, merchants can decline debit cards for many different reasons, such as:

6. Insufficient Funds

You’ll avoid declined transactions by keeping enough money in your checking account. Set up low balance alerts with your bank or credit union to notify you when funds run low. Consider linking your checking account to a savings account for overdraft protection to ensure a financial safety net.

7. Daily Transaction Limits

Debit cards often have daily transaction limits to prevent fraud. If you’ve reached your limit, you may need to wait until the next day to make another purchase. Check with your issuer to determine your daily transaction limit and plan your purchases accordingly.

8. Suspicious Activity

Your bank or credit union flags and denies suspicious debit card transactions to safeguard your account against fraud. This security measure helps prevent unauthorized access to your funds. Contact your bank or credit union to verify the transaction and confirm it’s legitimate.

9. Incorrect PIN or Card Information

A declined card can also result from a simple mistake like entering the wrong PIN or outdated card information. Always double-check your entries at the register, especially the expiration date and CVV. If you’ve recently moved, ensure your billing address is current with your card issuer to avoid any disruptions.

10. Expired or Damaged Card

Call your institution and ask them to send you a new card one month before it expires so you’ll have an updated card in your wallet before the old one expires. Additionally, if you frequently use your card the chip or magnetic strip can wear out and cause the card to malfunction. Request a replacement card if you notice any damage or wear and tear.

What to Do If Your Card Is Declined

Don’t panic if your card gets declined. You can solve the immediate problem by using cash or another card to complete your purchase.

But, you should frequently check your account balance and available credit to ensure you have sufficient funds. This will help you identify whether the problem is related to the amount of money in your account or the available credit limit. If everything looks good, contact your institution or credit card issuer with any issues.

They may be able to provide information about suspected fraudulent activity or why they put a hold on your card. They can also give details on the specific reason for the decline and help you resolve the issue.

How to Prevent Card Declines

Taking control of your finances reduces the chances of experiencing a declined card. Here are several tips to help you avoid this inconvenience:

  • Monitor Your Accounts: Utilize account alerts and regularly review statements to identify and address potential issues early on.
  • Timely Payments: Set reminders or automate payments to ensure you never miss a due date and maintain a good credit standing.
  • Manage Credit Usage: Keep your credit utilization ratio low to avoid reaching your credit limit, which can trigger a decline.
  • Maintain Account Balance: Track your spending and set up low balance alerts to prevent overdrafts and to ensure sufficient funds for debit card transactions.
  • Travel Notifications: Inform your card issuer in advance of your travel plans to avoid declined transactions due to suspected fraudulent activity.

Take Control of Your Card

Understanding the common reasons behind card declines and taking proactive steps to prevent them can help you avoid frustration and embarrassment. Stay on top of your account activity, make regular payments, and keep your card information current to ensure smooth transactions.

If you have a Freedom Credit Union card and you run into an issue where a merchant declines your debit or credit card, just contact us below. One of our friendly representatives will be happy to let you know what happened and can help you quickly resolve it.

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