Credit card decline codes: Everything you wanted to know
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Everything you wanted to know about credit card decline codes

credit card decline codes

The transaction could be canceled due to various reasons and these are, for instance, a technical issue at the issuing bank or a customer with insufficient funds on their card. See the most common card decline codes and ways to resolve them.

A credit card decline occurs when the payment cannot be processed for a particular reason. The transaction can be declined by the processor, the payment gateway or, what is the most common, by the issuing bank. Then, you, as a merchant, will see the relevant issuer decline code that comes with a certain reason (usually, you can also see an error message stuck to the code).

The processing system assigns these codes to transactions and you can see a short explanation for each of them on your profile in the SecurionPay dashboard that comes like the one below.

decline codes

There are two categories of credit card declines, and these are soft declines and hard ones. The first one is when the issuer approved the payment, but there’s some other problem with the transaction. Usually, retrying the transaction can help in such situations. The hard decline, by contrast, is when the payment is not approved by the issuing bank, so your customer should contact their bank to resolve the issue.

Decline codes are provided when a transaction cannot be completed, so it’s good to know the explanation for each of them. Let’s dive deeper into the most common declining codes merchants need to handle.

Why do I see the 05 code and what does it mean?

Based on our internal analyses, one of the most common codes that merchants receive is code 05. A declined 05 code comes with a Do Not Honor declined response, which is a general issuer message for blocked transactions.

Please keep in mind that the 05 response is returned via SecurionPay directly from the issuing bank, so there’s nothing we can do in this case.

So, what can you do about the 05 code?

We recommend that you contact your customer and ask them to speak with their bank about the reason for the card declines.

The codes explained

Some of the reasons are clear enough and leave no doubt as they are easy to explain to your customers, while others can be interpreted in various ways (see the table below). However, the specific reason is always known by the customer’s bank.

In the following, you can find the most common error codes with the explanation and recommended action you can take. However, please note that error codes differ from gateway to gateway, as there are no standardized error codes, so we recommend to always follow the error message.

Code number Reason Explanation
00 Transaction Approved Successfully The transaction is approved and completed successfully.
01 Refer To Card Issuer The transaction is refused by the issuer, so the cardholder should contact the issuing bank to clarify the situation. You can suggest a cardholder to use a separate card or try again after resolving the issue with their bank.
03 Invalid Merchant Number This error indicates that the entered details are incorrect or your merchant facility is non-functional.
04 Pick Up Card The transaction is declined by the issuing bank that requested for retaining the card as it could be reported as lost or stolen. Ask the customer for using a separate card or contact their bank to resolve the issue.
05 Do Not Honour The issuing bank is unwilling to accept the transaction. Ask the customer for a separate card to complete the transaction or ask them to contact the bank for more details.
06 Error When the code occurred for a one-time transaction, don’t run the card again and don’t provide any more goods or services to the cardholder. For the recurring or scheduled transaction, make sure that the card wasn’t incorrectly flagged as fraudulent. Ask a customer to contact their bank or update their payment details with a new card.
12 Invalid Transaction An error occurred while processing the card. Make sure that payments are correctly configured.
13 Invalid Amount Double check what is entered and make sure it wasn’t negative or included incorrect symbols.
14 Invalid Card Number The card issuing bank has declined the transaction because of an incorrectly entered a credit card number or a number that doesn’t exist. Double check the card details and try processing again.
15 No Issuer The customer’s card issuer doesn’t exist. Double check the card number and try processing the transaction again. The card number should start with 3 (AMEX), 4 (Visa), 5 (MasterCard), or 6 (Discover).
22 Suspected Malfunction The issuing bank is not responding during the transaction. The cardholder should check the card information and try processing again.
30 Format Error Double check the setup on your merchant account, as it may be incorrect.
31 Bank Not Supported By Switch The customer’s bank has declined the transaction because it doesn’t allow using the card for mail/telephone, fax, email or internet orders.

The error usually comes with the Discover card, so the customer should use a separate card. If a Discover card wasn’t used, ask the cardholder to contact their bank.

34 Suspected Fraud, Retain Card The transaction is declined by the issuing bank as there is suspected fraud on this credit card number.

Monitor subsequent transactions to check for fraudulent transactions on alternate cards. If there are multiple fraudulent transactions, please contact us.

41 Lost Card The issuing bank has declined the transaction as the owner of the card reported it as lost or stolen. In this case, don’t retry the transaction and don’t provide any goods or services to the cardholder. Validate the customer authenticity and refer the cardholder to the issuer.
42 No Universal Account The transaction is declined by the issuing bank as the account type is not valid for this card number. Ask the customer to use a separate card or to contact their bank.
43 Stolen Card The issuing bank has declined the transaction as the credit card owner has reported this card as stolen. Don’t try the transaction again and stop providing any goods or services to the customer, and report the transaction attempt to the relevant issuing bank.
51 Insufficient Funds The transaction is denied by the issuing bank as there aren’t enough funds in the associated bank account to complete this payment or the transaction will put the customer’s credit card over the limit. Request a different card from a customer or ask them to contact their issuing bank.
54 Expired Card The card is expired and no longer valid to use. Ask a customer to correct or switch the card.
56 No Card Record The transaction is declined by the issuer, as the credit card number doesn’t exist. The customer should use a separate credit card.
57 Function Not Permitted To Cardholder The issuing bank has declined the transaction as this card cannot be used for this type of transaction.

Ask the customer for using another card or contacting their bank. When the bank confirms it will process correctly, attempt the transaction again.

58 Function Not Permitted To Terminal The code appears when the card cannot be used for this type of transaction or when the merchant processing account is not properly configured. The response usually appears when test cards are used on the live gateway.
59 Suspected Fraud The transaction is declined by the issuer because it appears fraudulent. Monitor all the transactions processed after the error occurred.
62 Restricted Card The card is invalid in a certain region or country or the customer tried to pay online with a card that doesn’t support your online payments.
67 Capture Card The transaction is declined by the issuing bank because the card is suspected to be counterfeit. The customer’s card issuer has requested that your customer’s credit card is retained by you.

Ask the customer to use a different card or to contact their bank.

91 Card Issuer Unavailable There was a problem contacting the issuing bank to authorize the transaction. The customer should attempt to process this transaction again. If the problem persists, the cardholder should contact their bank.
92 Unable To Route Transaction The customer’s card can’t be found for routing and the code is mostly used for a test credit card number. The cardholder should try to complete a transaction again.

Keep customers informed

As you can see, there are different reasons for declined credit card transactions. However, you should know what is the meaning of them to explain it accurately to your customers. When customers notice the problem with their card payments they act differently, so some of them try a different card or use a different payment method, while others contact their bank. Note that there are also customers that drop their purchase or select a different online store (24 percent of online customers).

The declined transaction can have a negative impact on your relations with customers who can blame you for the issue, not to mention your bottom line. Also, keep in mind that repeated attempts on the same payment method can overstate your decline ratio. This is why we recommend using our retry logic for subscription payments.

Know the most common reasons for declines

Just to sum up, the most common card decline codes are related to the following issues:

  • Expired card or incorrect card number
  • The card declined based on location
  • There aren’t sufficient funds on cards
  • The card is over its limit
  • The card is blocked by the bank’s fraud system

There could be reasons that the bank is intentionally vague about and, in most cases, you can do nothing about. However, there’s also a term like false declines and this one can be avoided with the right tools. I’ll mention it further in the next blog post, so stay tuned!

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Sandra Wróbel-Konior

Sandra Wróbel-Konior

A well-established Content Marketing Specialist with a tech-savvy personality, experience in writing, and a passion for reading. Staying up to date with the latest technology and social media trends, in love with GIFs.
Sandra Wróbel-Konior

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