There is nothing more frustrating to see than a credit card declined code when a customer’s payment does not go through. As a retail or SMB owner who opted for card terminals for your payment processing, you and your staff need to understand the different codes that may appear on your payment terminal if a customer’s card is declined.

Mastering these codes will help you determine why a customer’s card is not being processed. After all, 90% of Americans own a credit card, and most of those use a card for nearly every purchase they make. 

In this all-in-one guide, we’ll help you figure out the nitty-gritty of what’s going on with the customer’s credit card in the event of a declined payment and why the transaction didn’t go through. We’ve compiled a list of all the standard (and not so standard) credit card declined codes, what they mean, and what you should do about each one. 

Below are the different points this guide will cover: 

What Is a Credit Card Declined Code?

Credit card declined codes are signals from your payment processor that indicate that a credit card transaction has failed. 

There are many credit card codes, such as error codes and hold codes. However, it is the declined codes that most often indicate that a transaction will not be completed.

Credit card declined codes can also appear when you try to make online purchases, such as when a transaction is interrupted by the bank, the vendor, or the card issuer. 

When this happens, you will receive a short error message made up of one to three numbers or letters. The error message you receive is known as a credit card declined code. This code identifies the nature of the problem with the transaction.

What Are The Benefits of Recognizing Credit Card Declined Codes?

It is essential to recognize the codes and understand their meaning to protect both your business and your customers.

First, your business can be flagged for illegal activities and low standards if consumers are regularly using your store for fraudulent transactions. 

Additionally, recognition of credit card declined codes save you the trouble if a consumer comes in with a stolen credit card.

Failure to do so means that not only can the card owner request a chargeback for any fraudulent transactions, but your online reputation can be threatened as well. Therefore, it is essential to consider certain credit card codes as a form of chargeback protection for your business. 

What Are The Most Common Reasons a Card Is Declined?

There are several reasons why your card may be declined. It can be as simple as the payment processor having difficulty with your card, an electronic connection problem with your credit card company or bank, or insufficient funds on the customer’s credit card. 

Below, you’ll find some of the most common reasons for a card being declined:

  • Codes 14 & 15: Invalid Card Number 

There are two ways to enter your card number incorrectly. When the very first digit you insert is incorrect, the error code 15 will be indicated for “no such issuers” because the first digit indicates the issuing bank of the card. If you insert any other incorrect digits, error code 14 will be displayed.

  • Code 63: Incorrect Security Code/Security Violation

This error code occurs when you incorrectly insert the CVV (card verification value) or four-digit CID (card identification number) code on the front of the card. 

This code indicates to the merchant that an irregularity occurred in the payment process and that the transaction was unsuccessful. That means that the payment was not secure.

  • Code CV: Card Type Verification Error 

Also known as a CV error, the card type verification error means that the type of credit card used is not supported.

The card type verification error may also mean that your account cannot accept payments of that type. These types of errors are much more common when you use cards like American Express and Discover. 

There may also be a problem with the card’s chip or magnetic strip. If this is the case, the card may not be functional to make transactions. 

  • Code 65: Activity Limit Exceeded

When you receive rejection code 65 while processing a customer’s card, it means that the customer’s credit limit has been exceeded. The maximum number of transactions that were allowed for a given period of time has been reached.

But, sometimes, a payment processor may interchange decline code 65 with decline code 51 (explained below). That simply means that the cardholder does not have sufficient funds. 

No matter what denial code is displayed, the cardholder has reached or exceeded the amount they can use as credit. Let’s say a customer’s credit limit is $250, and they spend $251 but owe $245. In this case, the card won’t work. 

  • Code 51: Insufficient Funds

As aforementioned, this denial code means that the customer does not have enough money in the account associated with your card.

  • Code 54: Expired Card

This code indicates that the customer’s card-issuing bank is not allowing the transaction to go through due to a past expiration date. For the card to be functional again, the customer must receive a new card.

  • Code 57: Transaction Not Permitted

This code appears when the customer’s bank doesn’t permit the transaction due to the card’s configuration. 

Many of these problems may also display error code 12 or error code 85. They simply indicate an invalid transaction. These codes are employed when a declined transaction doesn’t fall into any of the above categories. Unfortunately, they fail to identify the exact problem that caused the declined payment.

Many of these problems may also display error code 12 or error code 85. They simply indicate an invalid transaction. These codes are employed when a declined transaction doesn’t fall into any of the above categories. Unfortunately, they fail to identify the exact problem that caused the declined payment.

How Can I Help Customers Handle a Decline?

Even if you are unable to prevent cards from being declined, there are some measures you can take to help your customers handle card declines and complete their transactions.

1.  A good way to start addressing the problem is to have your customer call their bank or card issuer. In most cases, this is the safest course of action and should be sufficient to resolve the problem, especially in the case of a mass refusal.

2. Customers are much more likely to retry a payment that has been declined. Advise them to try the payment again. If the problem persists, advise them to contact the bank or card issuer. 

3. Offer alternative payment methods, including bank transfer, electronic check, mobile payment, or cash. This will reduce the risk of the customer simply deciding to not make the purchase. 

4. In order to improve the customer experience, you can print and stick a list of decline codes somewhere in your store. Then, when a customer faces a card declined code, they can refer to it to understand the appropriate steps to take.

How Can Credit Card Declined Codes Impact Your Business?

If you accept credit card payments in your business, be prepared to deal with credit card decline codes. Too many denial codes interrupt the smooth flow of your business and could lead to a full-blown crisis if it gets out of hand.

If the problem persists, ask your customers to use a different credit card or pay you in cash. You may also want to consider upgrading your transaction with more efficient machines and card terminals.

Can You Prevent Credit Card Declined Codes and Error Codes For Fraud?

It is impossible to completely prevent credit card denial codes because credit card processing codes come from several points of origin and your company is only one of them. After all, you have no control over a customer’s lost or stolen card or a situation of insufficient funds.    

However, you can reduce the number of error codes you receive. Change your payment processor if the problem persists.

  • Use KORONA POS To Beef Up Your Security

You need the most advanced fraud prevention solutions available; KORONA POS offers this protection:

  • Four-digit last entry
  • Account verification system
  • CVC2/ CVV2
  • Card duplication verification
  • Password protection of key functions

Thanks to these features, your staff can verify the cardholder’s identity by entering the cardholder’s data, such as a verification code, address, or last four digits. 

PS: Do not remove any fraud protection features from the POS terminals. By removing them, you cannot detect fraudulent cards or protect your business from financial losses.

Why Did My Card Get Declined When I Have Money?

Although you may have money in your account or on your credit card, there are several reasons why a card may be declined:

  1. The credit card number was flagged for fraud.
  2. You may have tried to complete a transaction for which your credit card is not approved, such as foreign transactions or online payments.
  3. You exceeded your credit limit. You will have to pay back your debt before you can use the card again.
  4. You may have inserted the wrong PIN, credit card number, or CVV2 code
  5. The problem may be due to a technical failure of the merchant’s terminal.

The Complete List Credit Card Declined Codes

It’s a big one, so just download it here and print it out!

Credit Card Declined Codes FAQs

Are you still confused about the error codes? Check out these frequently asked questions.

What is Decline Code 63

The decline code “63” means you incorrectly inserted your CVV (Card Verification Value) or four-digit CID code on the front of your card. To fix this problem, start the transaction from scratch and enter the correct security code.

Why Is My Card Declined When I Order Online?

Your card is declined when you order online for three reasons:

  1. Your credit card may not be set up or authorized to make payments online. Call the issuing bank for assistance.
  2. You may have inserted the wrong PIN, credit card number, or CVV2 code. Start the transaction over again. 
  3. You do not have enough funds on your card, or you have exceeded your credit limit. 

Conclusion on Credit Card Declined Codes: What To Take Away?

It is essential to know the majority of these declined codes to be able to inform your customers about more specifics and to avoid an excessive number of card issues. Remember, declined cards lead to frustrated shoppers and delayed lines.

Be sure to contact your card issuing bank when a problem persists and you don’t know what to do.

Finally, consider better payment processing solutions, credit card machines, and POS system to avoid too many cards being declined.

Learn More