Why are Cards Declined?

A credit card transaction can be declined for several reasons. Sometimes you can tell why it was declined by reading the response code, but only the customer's credit card issuer or financial institution can confirm the specific reason.

Here are a few of the major possibilities:

  1. Incorrect credit card number or expiration date
  2. Insufficient funds
  3. Some credit card companies will reject international charges.
  4. The customer's bank or credit card company was having technical issues when the order was processed
  5. If the customer made a large number of online purchases within a short period of time, some banks will reject some of the charges as a fraud prevention measures.

When Should I Retry a Declined Card?

Declines can be tricky. It's tough to know if the card was declined for temporary issues and you can retry the transaction or if you’ll need to reach out to the customer for an alternative form of payment. Basically, there are two types of declines: hard declines and soft declines.

Hard declines should not be retried, as the reason the card is being declined is not temporary and subsequent tries will likely not be successful. On the other hand, soft declines are typically temporary issues such as a high level of recent activity on a card, a lack of matching AVS information or a card being over its limit. Let's dive deeper into the details of each type of decline and some common decline codes associated with them.

Hard Declines

When cards are declined with the messages below, it's unlikely that they will ever be successful on a subsequent attempt. In many cases, there is action required by the card issuing bank or cardholder before the issue will be resolved. A few common examples are listed below.

2047: Call Issuer. Pick Up Card

This message is intended for merchants in card-present environments, and can be confusing for online merchants. This error indicates that the card has been reported as lost or stolen by the cardholder. The card company is requesting that the merchant keep the card and call the number on the back to report it. In instances where you see this processor response, we recommend obtaining a different credit card from the customer.

2005: Invalid Credit Card Number

This message indicates that the credit card number is not associated with an active account.

2004: Expired Card

This message indicates that the credit card has expired and is no longer active.

2010: Card Issuer Declined CVV

This message indicates that the transaction was not approved because the CVV did not match what is on file with the card-issuing bank.

2015: Transaction Not Allowed

This response indicates that the card issuing bank is declining the transaction for unspecified reasons. The response doesn't necessarily indicate that there is a problem with the card; however, it does indicate that the bank won't approve this transaction.

Soft Declines

Cards failing with the following responses may be successful with a subsequent attempt. We usually recommend that merchants reattempt the transaction up to three additional times over the subsequent week or two if they are unable to reach the cardholder, as some of the reasons a card may be declined with this message can resolve themselves over that time period. If subsequent attempts all fail, we suggest reaching out to the customer to obtain an alternate form of payment. It is very unlikely that a card will be successful on the fourth or fifth attempt. A few common examples are listed below.

2000: Do Not Honor

A generic bank response which indicates simply that they are not willing to accept the transaction. The transaction may be declined due to a high level of recent activity on a card, a lack of matching AVS information, a card being over its limit, or a range of other reasons which only the bank knows.

2001: Insufficient Funds

The card doesn't have the available funds today, but may be successful a different day.

2038: Processor Declined

This is a generic bank response which indicates simply that they are not willing to accept the transaction. The transaction may be declined due to a high level of recent activity on a card, a lack of matching AVS information, a card being over its limit, or a range of other reasons which only the bank knows.

2046: Processor Declined

This is a fairly generic response that many issuing banks will send back when declining a transaction. The transaction may be declined due to a high level of recent activity on a card, a lack of matching AVS information, a card being over its limit, or a range of other reasons which only the bank knows.

2011: Voice Authorization Required

This card may be successful on a different day or you may need to call the bank for voice authorization.

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