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Why Is Your Credit Card Getting Declined?

Most people have had the experience of having a credit card declined while making a purchase. Whether this occurs in a retail store, a restaurant, or when ordering products or services on the Internet, it is both inconvenient and upsetting to many consumers. Some buyers may realize that they are using an expired charge card or one on which they have charged to the limit. Others may be perplexed, wondering what the reason for card rejection by the merchant could be. The following are 10 reasons your credit card is getting declined: 

1. Card Charging Limit Has Been Reached 

Some credit card issuing companies and banks will allow cardholders to charge amounts over the charge limit, often imposing extra fees or denying some cardholder privileges for overcharging. However, some credit card companies have strict rules and will not permit overcharging. When trying to make a purchase with a card from a charge card company with strict charging policies, you will most likely always be denied charging privileges if you have already reached your maximum charging allowance for your card. Keep careful records of your monthly charges and payments in order to avoid having a declined credit card for purchases. Remember, also, that even if your charge card issuer does allow you to charge over your limit, overcharging may damage your credit record. 

2. Holds Placed on Certain Charges

Some credit card transactions cause a hold to be put on your charge privileges until they clear your account. Amounts charged for travel-related reservations, hotels and car rentals often result in such holds. If you use the same card for making purchases before your travel charges clear and your new purchases would bring your balance near the charge limit, your new charges may be denied. Try to avoid accumulated charges that approach your charge card limit. This will both assure you of a healthy credit utilization rating and give you peace of mind, preventing a declined credit card. 

3. Unusual or Fraudulent Purchases

If you report unidentified or fraudulent purchases with your credit card, your account may be limited or frozen for future charging until the complaint is resolved. Also, if your charge card company detects charges to your card that appear to be unusual or fraudulent when compared with your charging record, the company may place a temporary freeze on additional charges until you verify or reject these charges. In serious instances of fraud, your card may be permanently closed so a new card and account number can be issued to you. In any case, it is best to immediately report any charges made to your card that you cannot identify. 

4. International Charge Transactions

Credit card companies and banks are always somewhat wary of any international charges made to your charge card. Whether you make purchases via the Internet using your card or incur these expenses while traveling abroad, the security division of your card company may question these charges or place temporary holds on your cards until they can contact you for verification of charges. Remember to contact your credit card issuer before traveling internationally or making purchases from global companies via the Web to avoid any problems including a declined credit card. 

5. Delinquent Credit Card Accounts

If you neglect paying your credit card balance for a long period of time, your charging privileges may be suspended or your account cancelled by the card issuer. This will cause damage to your FICO score. It will also most likely result in a lower limit of credit if your charge card is reinstated. You will also probably be charged higher interest rates on future charges and possibly increased fees for any late payments you make on your account balance. Always pay your credit card bills on time, and if you cannot pay the full monthly amount due, make arrangements with your card issuer to pay in installments. This will keep your account in good standing.

6. Credit Card Has Expired

If a charge is denied when using your credit card, check your card's expiration date. If the card has expired, check your unopened mail for a newly issued card. If you have not received a new card, contact your charge card company immediately. If you remember receiving a new card, check your alternate wallets, purses, carrying bags and desk drawers at home for your new card. You may have received the new card and simply forgotten to destroy the old expired one. 

7. Incorrect or Transposed Credit Card Numbers

If a purchase using your credit card is denied when making an online or mail catalog purchase, check to make sure you entered your card number, expiration date and security code correctly. Use of incorrect or transposed numbers will most assuredly result in a rejected charge. Always try to enter these digits correctly the first time since repeated entries may cause suspicion of fraud.

8. Credit Card Account Closed

Credit card issuing companies and banks have the right to close your charge account at their discretion. Such closures can be sudden, without notice to the cardholder. Common reasons for closed accounts are delinquent payments, excessive overcharging and accrual of too many late fees. However, many consumers are surprised to learn that the most common reason for closed charge card accounts is simply lack of card use. If you have a credit card you seldom use, make an effort to start using it regularly for paying certain bills or purchasing certain items.

9. Authorized Card User Cancellation

If you are an authorized user on another person's credit card account who is denied a card charge, check with the account holder to make sure you are still listed as an authorized user. Sometimes cardholders cancel authorized users on their accounts and forget to notify these people. Also, if the cardholder has reported any suspicious or fraudulent card charges, authorized users may be temporarily denied charging privileges. 

10. Closure of Credit Card Company

In today's uncertain worldwide economies, some companies close unexpectedly or merge with other businesses, forming new companies. This could happen to one of your credit card issuers. Always stay in touch with your credit card companies so you will be aware of any company changes or closures that could affect the validity of your charge card. You want to protect your own reputation and credibility as a cardholder and consumer, so always make sure your credit card is valid and in good standing before using it to make purchase charges. 
Having the use of credit cards is an essential part of modern life. By maintaining an excellent credit rating and using your credit cards responsibly, you can enjoy many advantages and conveniences, charging both necessary and desired items and services as you wish.

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Alice Bryant's picture

Alice Bryant is the Editor of Creditnet and a personal finance expert with over a decade of experience writing about credit cards, credit scores, debt repair, and more.

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