A Complete List of Credit Card Declined Codes: What They Mean and What to Do About Them
Credit card declined codes aren’t what you hope to see with your payment processor.
When this happens, your customer might not be able to walk away with a product—and you won’t receive any money for a sale. There are numerous credit card decline codes that can occur, and while some are easily fixable, others require extra steps to resolve. Declined cards can also take place both in-store and via eCommerce. In fact, for subscription businesses, cards getting declined is fairly common. Visa and Mastercard both report that an average of 15% of recurring payments get declined.
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 as a hard decline or a soft decline. You can think of them as response codes that are sent back to you by your processors. You can receive declined credit card codes for a number of reasons:
- Expired or canceled credit card
- 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
- Other issues with the customer’s account
List of Credit Card Declined Codes
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 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 date, 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 directions on the next steps.
05 Do not honor
Credit card declined code 05 indicates 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.
06 Other error
This code pertains to an unidentified error with the issuing bank.
What to do: Since there’s no specific reason for the error code, it’s best to try again and see if the issue resolves itself. If not, ask the customer for an alternative payment method.
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.
10 Partial approval
You’ll encounter this error code when the issuing bank accepts just a portion of the transaction. This usually occurs when the transaction amount exceeds the card’s credit limit or the funds in the customer’s bank account don’t cover the rest of the sale.
What to do: Notify the customer and have them present another mode of payment that can supplement or replace the declined card.
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 the 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’s 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.
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.
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 Stolen/lost 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.
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 as a result of insufficient funds.
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.
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 Invalid service code, restricted
Some merchants choose not to accept American Express and/or Discover cards because of high fees and chargeback rates. If a customer attempts to pay with an unaccepted card, you might see this credit card declined code.
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 SEC violation credit card decline 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.
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.
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.
92 Unable to route transaction
When you get this error, it means your payment terminal is unable to interface with the card issuer.
What to do: This is another one of those unknown errors, so simply re-enter the card and see if it goes through.
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.
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 readminister 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.
R0 or R1
Specifically sent to subscription businesses or companies that charge recurring payments, this is a response code that you get when a customer has indicated to the card issuer not to allow recurring payments from your business.
What to do: Contact your customer to find out why they’ve decided to block your charges. It’s important that you stop charging the card to avoid chargebacks.
Is There a Way to Prevent Credit Card Decline Codes?
- Upgrade your payment processing tech stack. Choose the best payment processor, POS, merchant account provider, and other companies for your credit card processing needs.
- Train yourself and your employees to carefully verify and input all credit card, billing, and purchase information.
- Use systems that allow you to save customer billing information for a more seamless checkout experience.
Moving Forward with the Right Payment Processor
Payment Depot streamlines your credit card transactions by equipping you with the latest payment technologies and terminals. Plus, our solution saves you money by giving you access to wholesale rates. Unlike traditional payment processors, we don’t profit by marking up interchange rates and we don’t take a cut of your sales.
Quick FAQs about Credit Card Declined Codes
Q: 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 as a hard decline or a soft decline. These codes are sent back to you by your processors as a response to various issues, such as an expired card, exceeded spending limit, or suspected fraudulent activity.
Q: What is the difference between a hard decline and a soft decline?
Hard declines are definitive and indicate that the transaction cannot be processed, whereas soft declines usually suggest a temporary issue that can be resolved by retrying the transaction or addressing the specific problem.
Q: How common is it for recurring payments to get declined?
According to Visa and Mastercard, an average of 15% of recurring payments get declined.
Q: What should you do when a customer’s credit card transaction is declined?
First, apologize to the customer for any inconvenience. Depending on the decline code, ask for a different payment method, or have the customer call their credit card company. Always handle the situation discreetly and professionally, and never discuss their declined card within earshot of other customers.
Q: What are some examples of credit card declined codes and how to address them?
Here are several decline codes along with the recommended actions:
- Code 05: Ensure updated customer information or request alternative payment.
- Code 12: Check and/or reenter all billing and purchase information.
- Code 41: Report the incident using the toll-free number and consider requesting cash payment.
- Code 57: Have the customer call the bank to authorize the transaction.
- Code 75: Double-check the entered CVV and try another code if necessary.
- Code Specific to Subscription Businesses: Contact customers to find out why they blocked charges and avoid charging the card further to prevent chargebacks.
Q: How can merchants minimize the occurrence of declined credit card transactions?
Merchants can minimize declined transactions by training employees to carefully verify and input all credit card, billing, and purchase information, and by using systems that allow the storage of customer billing information for a seamless checkout experience.
Q: How does Payment Depot streamline credit card transactions and save merchants money?
Payment Depot streamlines credit card transactions by providing the latest payment technologies and terminals, along with access to wholesale rates. Unlike traditional payment processors, Payment Depot doesn’t mark up interchange rates or take a percentage of sales, so merchants can save money on their transactions.