August 12, 2021

Credit Card Declined Codes

Read more about Merchant Services

Here is the full list of credit card declined codes. Learn what they mean and how to handle each declined error scenario.

As a customer, it's embarrassing when your credit card is declined.

But as a merchant, how do you deal with it?

Cards can be declined for many reasons. Usually, it's a problem with the customer's account, a processing error on your end, or suspected fraud.

Review the declined codes below and what to do when you get a declined code.

What are Credit Card Declined Codes?

Credit card declined codes are given when a credit card transaction does not go through. The transaction could be blocked by the customer's card issuing bank or by your payment processor.

Some of the most common reasons to get a declined code are:

  • Reached credit card limit
  • Credit card is expired
  • Cardholder is behind on payments
  • Purchase suspected to be fraud
  • Merchant enters in wrong card details
  • The card reader has a problem

When a transaction is declined, a reason code will be given. You will need to refer to a guide for an explanation of what the code means. Knowing the reason will also let you know how to properly handle the issue.

Most Common Declined Codes

First, we'll go over the most common declined codes that you may encounter. They are:

  • 05: Do Not Honor. A general declined response indicating that the card is declined for some reason.
  • 12: Invalid Transaction. A merchant error in processing the transaction.
  • 41/43: Lost or Stolen Card. This error indicates fraud. The merchant is required to retain the card and report to the issuer.
  • 51: Insufficient Funds. There are not enough funds in the bank account, or the account is over the credit limit.
  • 54: Expired Card. The customer's credit card has expired.
  • 63: Security Violation: Card issuer declined transaction; the CVV code on the back of the card might have been read incorrectly.

But there are also dozens of other reasons for a decline. Read on for the full list and explanations.

Declined Codes Cheat Sheet

Here's a cheat sheet of common declined codes and reason:

Problem with Customer AccountMerchant/Processing ErrorSuspected Fraud
01/02 - Refer to Issuer12 - Invalid Transaction07 - Pick Up Card (Special Condition)
05 - Do Not Honor13 - Invalid Amount41 - Lost Card (Pick Up Card)
51 - Insufficient Funds14 - Invalid Card Number43 - Stolen Card (Pick Up Card)
54 - Expired Card15 - No Such Issuer
57 - Transaction Not Permitted19 - Re-enter
61 - Withdrawal Amount Limit Exceeded28 - File Temporarily Unavailable
65 - Withdrawal Frequency Limit Exceeded58 - Transaction Not Permitted (Terminal)
78 - No Account62 - Invalid Service Code
93 - Violation of Law63 - Security Violation
82 - Incorrect CVV
85 - No Reason to Decline
96 - System Error

List of All Declined Codes

Here's a reference guide for all declined codes and what to do when you encounter them.

01 - Refer to Issuer
There's no specific reason given - just that the credit card issuer blocked the transaction. The customer would need to contact their issuer to find out the issue. In the meantime, ask if they have another form of payment.

02 - Refer to Issuer (Special Condition)
This is similar to 01. Again, the customer needs to contact their issuer.

04 - Pick Up Card (No Fraud)
The issuing bank detects an issue, like if the card is expired or flagged as lost/misplaced. This code generally means that the bank doesn't suspect fraud.

"Pick up card" means that the merchant should retain the card and alert the issuer. This may be awkward to tell the customer, though. Handle it gently and use your best judgment. If the customer wants their card back, don't fight with them on it.

05 - Do Not Honor
Very common: This just means the card is declined for some reason. The best thing to do is have the customer call the number on the back of the card. The agent can tell the customer why it was declined, or lift the restriction.

Note that if you go ahead and re-process the transaction, you could be held completely liable if there's a dispute later on.

07 - Pick Up Card (Special Condition)
The issuing bank suspects fraudulent use of the card. Just like the 04 code, you're required to confiscate the card and report it to the issuer.

Since fraud is suspected, consider denying further service to the customer. If you do request an alternate payment, it's best to only take cash.

12 - Invalid Transaction
There's a merchant error when processing the card. Maybe you pressed a wrong button or entered information incorrectly. Check over all the details carefully, or restart and make sure to enter everything correctly.

13 - Invalid Amount
There's a merchant error in the dollar amount field. Most likely, there's a typo, like an invalid letter/symbol. Or maybe you've got a positive amount when it's supposed to be refund (or negative for a purchase).

14 - Invalid Card Number
This is a merchant error in the credit card number field. You may encounter it for manually keyed-in transactions. Recheck the card number and enter it again.

15 - No Such Issuer
This is a more specific error for an invalid card number. This happens when the first digit of the card number doesn't match with the card brand. All Amex cards should start with 3, Visa cards with 4, Mastercard with 5, and Discover with 6.

19 - Re-enter
This is a vague error code just indicating that something went wrong. Try processing the transaction again and make sure to enter everything correctly. If the issue persists, the customer may need to call their issuer.

28 - File Temporarily Unavailable
Something went wrong during authorization of the transaction. This is usually a temporary glitch, so wait a bit and try again. If it comes up again, you can call the issuer to ask what the problem is.

41 - Lost Card (Pick Up Card)
The credit card issuer declined the transaction because the card has been reported as lost or stolen. It's very likely a case of fraud. You are required to confiscate the card and report it to the issuer.

43 - Stolen Card (Pick Up Card)
This is basically the same as 41, where the card has been reported as lost or stolen by the owner. Again, hold the card and report it.

51 - Insufficient Funds
Very common: The cardholder doesn't have enough credit limit to make the purchase or doesn't have enough funds in the bank account.

Politely ask if the customer has another form of payment without embarrassing them by pointing out that they don't have enough money.

54 - Expired card
The card is past its expiration date. Just give a friendly reminder to the customer that their card is expired and ask if they have another way to pay. Sometimes, the customer doesn't even realize their card has expired.

57 - Transaction Not Permitted (Card)
The card cannot process the type of transaction you're trying to do. For example, maybe the bank placed a restriction on the type of purchase the card can be used for.

The customer can call their card issuer and request to allow the transaction.

58 - Transaction Not Permitted (Terminal)
Your merchant account is not configured for the type of transaction you're trying to do. For example, maybe it's an international card and your terminal isn't equipped to process those.

In this case, ask the customer if they can pay another way. Afterward, call your processing provider and see how they can configure your account.

61 - Withdrawal Amount Limit Exceeded
The card was denied because the transaction will exceed the approved spending limit. Ask for another form of payment. Or the customer can speak to their bank to have the limit increased.

62 - Invalid Service Code
You tried to process a card that is not accepted by your system.

For example, maybe you chose not to accept Amex cards because of the higher processing rates. You'll get this code if a customer tries to pay with Amex. Gently explain that you can't take this type of card and ask for another payment form.

63 - Security Violation
This may happen if the card reader didn't read the CVV code on the back of the card correctly. Try running it through the reader again.

If it still doesn't work, you can process the transaction again without the CVV code if you know and trust the customer. If you don't, you may want to err on the side of caution and request another payment form.

65 - Withdrawal Frequency Limit Exceeded
The customer may have exceeded the maximum number of allowed transactions. For example, a debit card may only allow 6 transactions per month because of the nature of the account.

75 - Allowable PIN Tries Exceeded
This is for debit cards where the user needs to type in their PIN code. The transaction will be declined if the incorrect PIN has been entered more than three times.

78 - No Account
This could happen if the account is no longer active. Or if it's a brand-new account and the user hasn't yet activated it. The customer will have to call the card issuer to determine the problem.

82 - Incorrect CVV
The CVV number entered is not correct. If you're doing manual entry, check that you didn't make a mistake.

85 - No Reason to Decline
This one is strange as there is no specific reason for the bank to decline. Most of the time, it's just a temporary communication error. Wait a bit and try again.

91 - Card Issuer Unavailable
There's a problem contacting the issuing bank for authorization of the card. Again, this is usually a communication error. Try again after a bit.

93 - Violation of Law
The credit card company blocked the transaction because there's a problem with the account. The customer will need to call their issuing bank. If the bank says everything is fine, you can try again.

94 - Duplicate Transaction
The bank declined the transaction because it appears to be a duplicate. Check if this is the case and if the original went through.

96 - System Error
An error has occurred with your processing system. It's most likely just a temporary glitch. Wait a little while and run the transaction again. If this issue continues, call your processing provider.

RO or R1 - Stop of Recurring Payment
The customer has requested for their bank to stop recurring charges from your account. Remove the recurring billing and follow up with the customer to confirm that this is what they wanted.

What to Do When You Get a Decline Code

Here are some tips on how to handle different scenarios when a customer's card is declined.

Merchant error
If it was a processing error on your end (like a typo), carefully check what the problem is and re-enter everything properly. For system errors, it's usually just temporary, so wait a minute or two and try again.

Customer account problem
If the error is because something is wrong with the customer's account (insufficient funds, over limit, etc.), handle it gently.

Don't embarrass the customer by telling them they don't have enough money. Instead, apologize and say that there seems to be a problem with processing the card. Ask if they have another way to pay.

You can also suggest that they call their bank to find out what the problem is. For non-specific declined reasons, the customer may be able to talk to their card issuer and sort it out.

Suspected fraud
If the decline is due to suspected fraud (codes 07, 41, and 43), you're supposed to take the card from the customer and hold onto it. Do so if you feel it is safe.

But if the customer insists on getting their card back, then don't fight it and give it back. At your earliest opportunity, call the issuer to report that you received this code.

Also consider not providing any services to the customer. Only accept another form of payment if it's cash.

Bottom Line

It's important to know what each decline code means so you know how to deal with it. Have a list of the codes handy by the terminal and train your staff on how to handle different decline scenarios.

If you experience trouble at any point or aren't sure what actions to take, call your processing provider. They should be equipped to guide you through the next steps.

Anna G is a contributing writer at CreditDonkey, a credit card processing comparison and reviews website. Write to Anna G at feedback@creditdonkey.com. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.


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