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What are credit card decline codes?

What are credit card declined codes?

Credit card declined codes are signals from your payment processor that indicate a credit card transaction has failed to go through. You can receive declined credit card codes for a number of reasons: 

 

  • Expired or canceled credit card
  • The credit card hasn’t been activated
  • Reached/exceeded spending limit
  • Missed payments
  • Suspected fraudulent activity
  • Incorrect data entry
  • Damaged credit card or reader
  • Incompatible credit card

 

Call/Decline Codes

If you get one of the following “CALL” or “DECLINE” codes, it usually indicates a problem with the customer’s bank not allowing the transaction to go through. This could be due to a variety of reasons, from insufficient funds to an expired card. Ask the customer to call their bank to resolve the problem, or ask them to provide an alternate payment method.

 

01 Refer to issuer

This is when the cardholder’s issuing bank (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, etc.) blocks the transaction. 

What to do: First and foremost, always apologize. Even if it isn’t your fault, you can demonstrate empathy and compassion to customers. 

In the case of an 01 error code, ask for a different card. If the customer doesn’t have one, have them call their credit card company to investigate and resolve the issue. There’s usually a toll-free number somewhere on the card. 

02 Refer to issuer (special condition)

This is similar to 01 Refer to the issuer in that the cardholder’s issuing bank blocks the transaction from going through. 

What to do: The same guidelines apply to 02 as they do for 01 — ask for a different payment method or have them call their card issuer. If the latter happens in a retail setting, direct them to a comfortable area of your store while they address the problem. Never say anything about their declined card loudly enough for other customers to hear. 

04 Hold-call or Pick up card

Again, this credit card declined code is when the issuing bank blocks the transaction, typically because of a suspected issue. Issues could include a lost/misplaced card, expiration, or fraud, among other red flags. 

What to do: Though uncomfortable, this code indicates that the merchant must seize the credit card. There’s typically a toll-free number somewhere on the card that you or an associate can call to get direction on the next steps. 

05 Do not honor

Credit card declined codes 05 indicate that the issuing bank has once again blocked the transaction—telling you to literally “not honor” the card as a form of payment

What to do: Ensure you have updated customer information, as sometimes it’s a case of a mistaken billing address. If the incorrect billing information isn’t the culprit, ask for an alternative form of payment or have the customer call the toll-free number. 

51 Insufficient funds

Transaction errors occur when the cardholder has reached or exceeded their credit limit amount. In some cases, your purchase would be what puts them over the edge — for example, if they’ve spent $4,995 with a $5,000 limit, they won’t be able to make a $5.01 purchase from your business. 

What to do: Similar to most other cases, you’ll want to apologize for the inconvenience before requesting an alternative form of payment. They can also choose to call their credit card company to try and sort it out or increase their limit. 

54 Expired card

This credit card declined code indicates that the expiration date entered has already passed, meaning the card is expired and no longer valid for issuing payment. 

What to do: First make sure you entered the expiration date correctly, and if so, you can request an alternative form of payment from the customer. 

57 Transaction not permitted – card

Code 57 means the credit card isn’t properly configured for the transaction you’re trying to process. 

What to do: Provide transaction details to your customer and have them call the bank to request permission for the transaction. 

65 Activity limit exceeded or insufficient funds

Here, your customer might have exceeded their credit limit or hit their maximum number of transactions for a specific period of time. 

What to do: Like in many other scenarios, ask for an alternative form of payment or recommend they reach out to their credit card company. 

93 Violation, cannot complete

This indicates some sort of issue with your customer’s credit card account. The issuing bank blocks these transactions. 

What to do: Ask for a different payment method or recommend they contact their bank. 

 

Hold-Call Codes

A hold-call code may indicate fraudulent use of the credit card. Do not honor the transaction and do not provide services to this customer. If it’s an in-person transaction, you should take the card from the customer, call to report that the code was received, and keep the card.

 

07 Hold-call or Pick up card (special condition)

Again, the cardholder’s issuing bank is stopping the transaction. However, this time it’s because of suspected fraud. 

What to do: Don’t accept any form of payment from this customer. You might also take the card and discreetly call the toll-free number, somewhere out of sight and earshot of the customer in question and throughout the store. 

41 Hold call, Pick up card (fraud account)

Here, the issuing bank is blocking the transaction because the cardholder has reported it as lost or stolen. Therefore, it’s essentially “frozen” for use. 

What to do: This is a suspected case of fraud, so you’ll have to call the toll-free number and report the incident to the issuing bank. Prudent merchants may choose to deny serving these shoppers. Or you can request an alternative form of payment — ideally cash. 

43 Lost/stolen card, Pick up (fraud account) 

Again, we have a suspected case of fraud because the cardholder has reported the card as missing or stolen. 

What to do: Just like with code 41, you’ll need to report the incident and probably opt for cash payment. 

 

Error Codes

If you get one of these error codes, it can be due to anything from a typo to a system error. Most of the time, you can resolve error codes by double-checking the account details and trying again. If you still have trouble, contact us to resolve the issue.

 

12 Invalid transaction

This time, the error might be happening on the merchant side of things. A 12 credit card decline code indicates that the transaction is invalid. You might have entered information or dollar amounts incorrectly or even pressed a wrong button.

What to do: Check and/or reenter all the billing and purchase information you entered. If there are no issues, start from the beginning. 

13 Invalid amount

Here, the error is definitely on the merchant end, and it’s because the dollar amount was invalid. It might be negative for a purchase, or positive for a refund. Or you could have accidentally included a letter or symbol. 

What to do: Fix the dollar amount and try again. 

14 Invalid card number

Similar to error 13, 14 pins down where the problem lies. You likely mistyped the credit card number. 

What to do: Carefully reenter the credit card number. 

15 No such issuer 

Credit card declined code 15 gets even more specific, alerting the merchant that the entered credit card number doesn’t start with an appropriate number: 

  • American Express: 3
  • Discover: 6
  • Mastercard: 5
  • Visa: 4

What to do: Check the first number entered in the credit card information and adjust as needed. 

19 Re-enter

Now we venture into unknown territory. Here, your payment processor is telling you it doesn’t know what happened and why it didn’t work. 

What to do: Attempt the transaction again. If it still doesn’t work, the merchant or customer may have to call the issuing bank. Give the customer the option in this scenario. 

25 POS condition code invalid value

25 is typically similar to 14 or 15 — essentially, there’s something wrong with the credit card and billing information. 

What to do: Again, carefully reenter the information or retry the transaction. 

28 File is temporarily unavailable

In this scenario, there was a blip during the authorization process, which is the initial part of the transaction

What to do: These errors are typically temporary, so simply waiting a bit and retrying the transaction should work. If it doesn’t, you’ll want to contact the issuing bank or your merchant account provider.

58 Transaction not permitted – terminal

These errors are with your merchant processing account, indicating that it’s not configured to process this transaction. 

What to do: Reach out to your merchant account provider rep or support team for further assistance reconfiguring your account. 

61 Exceeds issuer withdrawal limit

Again, we have an issue where the cardholder may have overspent or withdrawn too many funds from their associated account. 

What to do: Request alternative payment or a customer call to the issuing bank. 

62 Restricted Card

This type of error is rare and difficult to determine. Typically it means you are trying to process a card that is not allowed with your business type. Your business will be assigned a SIC code that matches your business type (e.g. Barbers - 7230, Medical - 8099). If you are a Barber and someone is trying to process an HSA card at your shop it will likely decline with an 8099. Another example would be if someone tries using a retailer-specific card at your business, like a Home Depot card that can only be used at Home Depot.

Another cause for code 62 is if an online shopper is attempting to make a payment with a card that isn’t compatible with online payments. 

What to do: In the first case, you’ll need to apologize and ask for a different form of payment. Some customers may be unhappy to hear your choice, so it’s important to come up with a prepared response to express your empathy and reasoning. In the case of the latter, you’ll want to implement an error message that asks customers to use a different card or call their bank, citing the error code.

63 Card is restricted or security violation

If your credit card reader has a hard time reading the three- or four-digit CVV or CID (card identification) code, you’ll see this declined code. The CVV and CID can be found either on the front or the back of the card (depending on Visa, AmEx, etc.) 

What to do: Usually you can just try the transaction again without including the code. If you do this, give your customer a heads up because their bank may flag the transaction as fraudulent. 

 

78 No account, no such account exists, invalid account, or nonexistent account

There could be a number of reasons why this credit card declined code shows up. It essentially boils down to the bank not recognizing the account — maybe it’s no longer active, for example. 

What to do: Ask for a different payment method. In this scenario, it’s probably better for the customer to call their credit card company after they leave your place of business. 

85 OR 00 Issuer system unavailable or no reason to decline

This credit card declined code is not as serious, as it indicates a temporary communication error. 

What to do: Try the transaction again. If you repeatedly have trouble, reach out to your payment processor. 

91 Issuer or switch is unavailable

This is another communication error, this time concerning the authorization communication. 

What to do: Again, there’s no real reason this happens, so you can typically just try it again. 

96 System malfunction/system error

When you see this error code, your technology may have failed you — but usually only temporarily. 

What to do: Simply retry the transaction after a few minutes. If it’s still a no-go, contact your payment processor directly. They may have you instruct the customer to call their bank as well. 

97 Invalid CVV

This credit card declined code is also descriptive. It means the CVV is wrong. The CVV is the Card Verification Value and is typically three digits and found on the back of the card, though American Express has four-digit CVV codes on the front of the card. This is an extra security and verification layer to help prevent fraud. 

What to do: Double-check you’ve entered the CVV correctly. Some cards might have multiple three- and four-digit codes, making it hard to decipher which one to use. If you get an error message again, try one of the other codes. 

 

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