You’re minding your own business, ringing up another sale for your next customer, and then it happens–your normally boring credit card terminal spits out a strange number and message indicating that the transaction did not go through as expected.
You’ve just received a credit card decline code, in fact. But what does it mean, and what can you do about it?
WHAT ARE CREDIT CARD DECLINE CODES?
Credit card decline codes are sent to merchants from credit card processors when a transaction is unable to be processed. Each numerical code corresponds to a different reason a transaction may be declined, such as the card in question being reported lost or stolen.
WHO ISSUES CREDIT CARD DECLINE CODES?
Credit card decline codes can originate from just about any point in the transaction cycle. That means it’s possible for any of the following to be the source of the code you receive:
- ㆍ Your payment processor
- ㆍ Your payment gateway (if you’re using one)
- ㆍ The card’s issuing bank
That said, there are certain codes that are more likely to come from one of those sources than the others. For example, a code 51 (insufficient funds) is probably coming from the issuing bank, not the payment processor or gateway. It should be noted that error codes that originate from the issuing bank tend to be harder, if not impossible, to resolve at the point of sale.
COMMON REASONS FOR CREDIT CARD DECLINED CODES
Broadly speaking, a credit card decline code occurs when some technical or financial factor prevents a transaction from completing. Very often, there’s an issue with the cardholder’s account or the card itself.
A card might be declined if the cardholder has insufficient credit remaining on their account. It may be declined if the card is reported as lost or stolen. It may also be declined if fraud alerts are triggered. And, of course, it will be declined if the card is expired. These are just a few of the more common reasons you might receive a credit card declined code.
LIST OF CREDIT CARD DECLINED CODES, EXPLAINED
There are a lot of credit card codes. Typically, when you receive a credit card code, you’ll also get a brief note explaining why the transaction was declined. Nevertheless, it can be helpful to have a reference of the types of codes you might encounter.
|00||No reason given||The transaction failed for unclear reasons, possibly due to a connection error.|
|01||Refer to issuer||This a broad error code indicating the card issuer has blocked the transaction.|
|triggered02||Refer to issuer (special condition)||Essentially a variation of error code 01, but for reasons not encompassed by the parameters of error code 01.|
|04||Pick up card (non-fraud)||The card issuer has blocked the transaction and is requesting that you seize/hold it. This code may occur if the card is reported lost or is expired.|
|05||Do not honor||The card issuer has blocked the transaction and is asking you not to honor the card.|
|06||Error||Similar to 05, the issuer is asking you not to honor the card for transactions 05|
|07||Pick up card (fraud)||The card issuer has flagged the card for fraudulent activity and is requesting that you seize/hold the card.|
|12||Invalid transaction||Often the result of user-error, something went wrong when the transaction’s information entered the system, something was mistyped, etc.|
|13||Invalid amount||Something in the number field of the transaction threw an error, typically because a non-numerical character was accidentally entered|
|14||Invalid card number||Your terminal or gateway can’t find the account that was entered.|
|15||No such issue||The card number entered doesn’t correspond to any issuing network.|
|19||Re enter||An unknown error occurred, and you should try the transaction again.|
|22||Suspected malfunction||Your terminal or gateway can’t reach the issuing bank.|
|25||POS condition code invalid value.||Something is wrong with the customer’s billing information or other entered information.|
|28||File is temporarily unavailable||The customer’s information temporarily couldn’t be reached. It may possibly clear on a second attempt.|
|30||Format error||Something may be wrong with the setup of your merchant account|
|31||Bank not supported by switch||The issuing bank declined the transaction, usually because the card can’t be used for this type of transaction.|
|34||Suspected fraud, retain card||Another code you may encounter if a customer tries to use a flagged card.|
|37||Contact acquirer security department||Yet another “decline and retain” code, although with the request that the customer contact their issuing bank.|
|41||Lost card||The card’s owner has reported the card lost, and the issuer is requesting you retain it.|
|42||No universal accounts||The issuing bank declined the transaction due to a problem with the card’s account type.|
|43||Stolen card||The card’s owner has reported the card stolen, and the issuer is requesting that you retain it.|
|49||Card declined||The card may not be valid for this type of transaction.|
|51||Insufficient funds||The issuing bank is declining the transaction because it would put the customer’s account over their credit limit.|
|54||Expired card||The card has passed its expiration date and is no longer valid.|
|56||No card record||The issuing bank, which in this case may not in fact be the issuing bank, has declined the card because it can’t locate an account with the card’s number.|
|57||Transaction not permitted||The issuing bank says the card can’t be used for this type of transaction.|
|58||Transaction not permitted (terminal)||Your merchant account is not configured for this type of transaction.|
|59||Suspected fraud||The issuing bank declined the transaction due to suspected fraud, but no hold/retain request.|
|61||Exceeds withdrawal limit||Another code you may encounter if the customer has insufficient funds for the transaction|
|62||Invalid service code||The transaction violates some restrictions put on the card (product type, location, etc.)|
|63||Security violation||This code indicates there’s some problem with the card’s security code (CVV/CID). Usually, this can be overridden, but at the risk of the transaction later being flagged.|
|65||Activity limit exceeded||The issuing bank is declining the transaction. May be due to a high volume of transactions within a limited time, or possibly exceeding the credit limit.|
|configured 67||Capture card||The issuing bank has declined the transaction and is requesting you capture the card, possibly due to the card being fake.|
|78||Invalid account||The issuing bank can’t find an account for the card number in question.|
|85||Issuer system unavailable||Similar to 00, the transaction failed, likely due to a communication issue on your processor’s end.|
|91||Issuer or switch is unavailable||The transaction couldn’t be authorized, likely a processor-side communication issue|
|92||Unable to route transaction||Usually seen when testing transactions when configuring a gateway, indicating that the card information can’t be found locally.|
|93||Violation, cannot complete||The issuing bank isn’t allowing the transaction.|
|96||System error||Something went wrong with the transaction, usually due to a temporary systemic error.|
|97||Invalid CVV||The Card Verification Value (CVV)–that three- or four-digit number on the front or back of a card–doesn’t match the card or account.|
|R0||Requested stop of recurring payment||The transaction was declined because the customer requested that a recurring payment no longer be processed.|
This list doesn’t represent every possible error code you could get (payment processors also have their own), but these are by far the most common. You’ll note that some codes are very similar to each other. You don’t need to necessarily know the systemic quirks that produce a code 00 instead of a code 85, however. Just have a general sense of what went wrong and what, if anything, you can do about it.
HOW DO CREDIT CARD DECLINE CODES REALLY AFFECT YOUR BUSINESS?
If you accept credit card payments as part of your business, credit card decline codes just come with the territory. Usually, they’re just momentary interruptions to the flow of your business and rarely constitute full-blown crises. In most cases, capture you should be able to resolve the problem by running the transaction again, or asking your customer if they have either another card or cash to pay with.