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Credit Card Declined – Error Code Guide

Posted Mar 22, 2018

It’s hard on a customer when their credit card is declined during a purchase. Frequently they feel embarrassed or get angry and, in a brick and mortar store, it’s the merchant who must deal with them.

But declines are also frustrating for the store owner. Not only do you have a potentially irate customer on your hands, but you could be facing a lost sale.

Understanding the codes that accompany a decline can make the situation easier – and might save the sale. We’ve compiled a list of the more common decline codes a merchant might see, as well as suggestions on how to handle the situations.

Credit Card Processing Decline Error Codes

Decline Error Code 01 & 02 – Call

With these two error codes, the customer’s cardholder (the issuing bank) has blocked the transaction. The cardholder should call the toll-free number on the back of their card to have the card issuer explain why.

Decline Error Code 04 – Hold-Call or Pick Up Card

With this error code, the merchant should keep the card at the direction of the credit card issuer. Call the toll-free number on the back of the card to determine the issue and for instructions.

Decline Error Code 05 – Do Not Honor (Decline)

The merchant is being instructed by the card issuer not to honor the card. There could be a problem with the customer’s account.

Decline Error Code 07, 41 & 43 – Hold-Call or Pick Up Card

This card has been marked for fraud. Don’t re-run the card, keep it, and call the toll-free number on the back of the card. You can instruct the customer to do the same.

Decline Error Code 12 – Invalid Transaction

Usually, this only occurs if you’ve manually typed the card number and it’s entered incorrectly. Make sure everything is correct and re-run the card.

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Decline Error Code 14 – Card No. Error

This happens when the card number is misread. It could be because the card was mistyped, or it wasn’t read correctly when swiped. Verify the information and try again.

Decline Error Code 28 & 91 – No Reply/Response

This simply means the card issuer is not replying to the transaction. Wait and then try the transaction again.

Decline Error Code 51 – Insufficient Funds

This can be a delicate issue.  In this case, the customer doesn’t have sufficient funds to cover the transaction. Simply tell the client that the card was declined and direct them to the toll-free number on the back of the card.  Hopefully, they will have cash or a second card to complete the purchase.

Decline Error Code 54 – Card Expired

Self-explanatory.  The card is expired and no longer valid to use.

Decline Error Code 57 & 62 – Transaction Not Permitted/Restricted

The issuer does not allow this type of transaction or purchase of products from your business type. This happens most frequently with business credit cards where clients are restricted in what the card can be used for.

Card declines can be a tricky situation. There are many reasons cards get declined. When it happens, offer great customer service, help the person understand what’s happened and what to do next, and provide the customer appropriate information such as the number to call.

While this single sale may present a challenge, understanding the problem and treating the customer well will encourage them to return in the future.

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