Though more prevalent in high transaction volume B2C companies, they can be found in any business environment in which payments take place.
If you haven’t gotten one of these codes, don’t worry.
But get ready!
All merchants get credit card declined codes from time to time.
Rest assured, it’s going to be embarrassing for the customer. They might have some idea of why the card is declined, but odds are they won’t have a clue.
As a merchant, knowing how to address this situation with your customer is going to make their experience with you — or break it.
Knowing these codes will enable you to provide a more thorough and thoughtful explanation for your customer, generating loyalty for you.
These processing error codes are common among all members of the credit card industry.
They will not vary depending on the point of sale systems you use, or on any other machinery.
Here’s a list of all the possible codes you might get when a credit card is declined.
What are Credit Card Declined Codes?
These codes indicate something went wrong with the processing of a payment.
When your customer’s card is declined for some reason, one of the codes will appear on your point-of-sale system or credit card terminal.
Keep in mind that a transaction can be declined by anyone at any point in the payment process.
Any given transaction can be refused by the issuing bank, the payment gateway, or by the processor themselves.
Regardless of who rejected the transaction, though, the merchant will see only the code and, depending on their equipment, a brief error message.
Types of Decline Codes
There are two broad categories of these codes. These are:
- Hard Decline Codes — This kind of decline happens when the issuing bank blocks the transaction and refuses to authorize it. Typically the merchant has no recourse in this situation, other than to ask the customer for another method of payment.
- Soft Decline Codes — This kind of decline happens when the issuer approves a payment, yet finds some problem with the transaction. If you get this type of code, simply retrying the transaction will resolve the problem.
Hard declines should never be retried or otherwise forced through. That can lead to chargebacks in the future.
In these situations, the merchant will have no recourse other than to repay the credit card company.
Soft declines, on the other hand, are often temporary. So it’s totally okay to retry them.
Regardless of the type of decline you get, when you fix the situation with your customer, it’s a great idea to keep some record of the action you take in response to it.
This makes it easier to respond to chargebacks or requests for information from the credit card company.
Ultimately, being familiar with the different credit card decline codes will enable you to safeguard your business, and also to better serve your customers.
Most Credit Cards are Declined for These Reasons
After a credit card declined code appears, there are many ways to address the situation.
There are five reasons most cards are declined, though. They are:
- Cardholder Account Closed
- Credit Card Expired
- Cardholder has Large Pending Transaction Already
- Cardholder Exceeded Credit Limit
- Cardholder Made Fraudulent Purchase
Most of the time, the cardholder themselves will need to solve the issue.
So when credit card decline codes appear, it is crucial to provide your customers with the correct advice so they can address the situation.
Credit Card Declined Codes — In Categories
It’s unreasonable to expect your cashiers to recall each of these authorization/decline codes in detail.
However, putting them into appropriate categories can help suggest the right way to address the situation.
Note: The merchant isn’t going to get the whole story with a refusal code.
There are usually only two things a merchant can do when their customer gets a decline code.
They can either:
Retry the transaction if it is safe to do so,
Advise the customer to contact the bank that issued their card
Let’s take a look at the different categories of credit card processing decline codes.
These types of responses are the “soft codes” mentioned above.
They typically demonstrate some kind of problem with the cardholder’s bank.
If you get one of these codes, advise the cardholder to contact their bank, or ask them to give you an alternate payment method.
In order to make sure you’re providing the best service to your customers, offer to reserve their items for a short time.
Caring for your patrons – even the embarrassing ones – can easily turn them into regular customers.
- 01/Refer to Issuer – There is some kind of error with the card. Advise the cardholder to contact the issuing bank.
- 02/Refer to Issuer, Special Condition – The issuing institution is blocking the transaction. The cardholder should contact their bank. This code is typically provided when:
- The cardholder is making a purchase that’s larger than usual for them, or,
- The cardholder has been traveling unexpectedly.
- 04/Pick Up Card (No Fraud) – This credit card has been reported stolen or lost. It has not been flagged for fraud. If you get this code, capture the card (take it from the customer) and contact the issuing bank.
- 05/Do Not Honor – The issuing bank is not allowing the transaction to continue for an unspecified reason. The cardholder should contact the issuing institution.
- 51/Insufficient Funds – There is insufficient money on the card in order to make the complete payment.
- 54/Expired Card – The expiration date for the card has passed, and it can no longer be used.
- 57/Transaction Not Permitted, Card – This card is not properly configured for this specific transaction. Give the cardholder details of the transaction and advise them to contact their issuing bank for authorization.
- 65/Activity Limit Exceeded – This transaction will put the cardholder over their credit limit, or they are over that limit already. Have them provide an alternate payment method, or advise the cardholder to call their issuing bank for a limit adjustment.
- 93/Violation, Cannot Complete – There is an unspecified problem with the account the card is attached to. The cardholder should use a different card, and/or call their issuing bank.
These “hard decline” types of codes are more significant.
Getting one of these codes is an indication there has been fraudulent activity.
If a merchant gets one of these codes, they must capture the card (take it from the customer) and let the issuing bank know they have done so.
No business should supply any services to customers with these cards, nor should they honor any transactions they make.
- 07/Pick Up Card, Special Condition (Fraud Account) – The issuing bank has found credible indications of fraud on this account. Seize the card.
- 41/Lost Card, Pick Up –Cardholder is in possession of a lost payment card. Do not retry this transaction, seize the card, and do not serve this customer. If this happens on a recurring payment, call the customer.
- 43/Stolen Card, Pick Up – Cardholder is in possession of a stolen payment card. Do not retry this transaction, seize the card, and do not serve this customer. If this happens on a recurring payment, call the customer.
General or System Error Codes
Soft error codes like these are sometimes harder to resolve, as they cover a wide variety of potential issues.
They may also indicate some issues with your point-of-sale systems.
Being familiar with these error codes is useful to avoid customer embarrassment and frustration.
- 00/Issuer System Unavailable – Indicates a temporary communication error. Wait a few minutes and try again.
- 12/Invalid Transaction – There is invalid information in the system. Often due to user error, this can mean something entered the system incorrectly or was mistyped. Also happens when payment batches are improperly configured, or if the merchant is trying to refund a refund.
- 13/Invalid Amount – Data entry error. An improper symbol was used, or a negative dollar amount was entered incorrectly.
- 14/Invalid Card Number – Indicates an invalid entry of the cardholder’s account number. Check the number and try again.
- 15/No Such Issuer – Check the card number again. You’ll get this code if the number entered doesn’t match one of the known card issuers. 3 is American Express, 4 is Visa, 5 is Mastercard, and 6 is Discover.
- 19/Re–Enter – Unknown error. Try the transaction again. If it happens again, refer to your merchant provider.
- 28/File Temporarily Unavailable – A transient error has occurred while the card is authorized. Try the transaction again, or call the customer’s issuing bank.
- 57/Transaction Not Permitted, Card – This code appears when the cardholder’s account is not properly set up to accept transactions of this type. Contact the issuing bank to have the account reconfigured.
- 58/Transaction Not Permitted, Terminal – Same as above, but when point-of-sale equipment is not configured properly.
- 62/Invalid Service Code, Restricted – Indicates point-of-sale equipment not configured to accept American Express or Discover cards. Can also happen when the card is not configured to support online payments.
- 63/Security Violation – CVV (3 digit number on the back of card) or four-digit CID code is not read properly. Retry transaction again, or retry with no CVV/CID code. If this works, let your customer know the transaction may be flagged as being fraudulent.
- 85/No Reason to Decline – Unexplained error. Try the transaction again, or contact the issuing bank.
- 91/Issuer Switch Unavailable – Unexplained error, communication failure. Try again. Then contact either payment processor or issuing bank.
- 93/Violation, Cannot Complete – An unspecified violation or other problem has occurred with the cardholder’s account. Ask the cardholder to call their bank. If the bank says everything is okay on their end, retry the transaction. If not, ask for a different method of payment.
- 96/System Error – A transient error has occurred in the transaction. Wait a few minutes and try again. Call the payment processor if you get the same error again.
- R0 or R1/Customer Requested Stop of Specific Recurring Payments – Returned when the cardholder asks the bank to deny charges from your business. Contact the cardholder to determine if this was a mistake or just an expired card.
Credit Card Decline Code — In Numerical Order
Sometimes it’s helpful to have a list of the credit card decline codes in numerical order. You can find that in this section.
For more detailed explanations, though, refer to the sections above.
- 00 / Issuer system unavailable
- 01 / Refer to issuer
- 02 / Refer to issuer, special condition
- 04 / Pick up card (no fraud)
- 05 / Do not honor
- 07 / Pick up card, special condition (fraud account)
- 12 / Invalid transaction
- 13 / Invalid amount
- 14 / Invalid card number
- 15 / No such issuer
- 19 / Re-enter
- 28 / File is temporarily unavailable
- 41 / Lost Card, Pick Up
- 43 / Stolen Card, Pick Up
- 51 / Insufficient funds
- 54 / Expired card
- 57 / Transaction not permitted, card
- 58 / Transaction not permitted, terminal
- 62 / Invalid service code, restricted
- 63 / Security violation
- 65 / Activity limit exceeded
- 85 / Issuer system unavailable & No reason to decline
- 91 / Issuer switch unavailable
- 93 / Violation, cannot complete
- 96 / System error
- R0 or R1 / Customer requested stop of specific recurring payments