Here are some common (and not so common) reasons your card may get declined when you try to use it to make a purchase.
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1. You’ve Reached Your Credit Card Limit
If your balance creeps up toward your credit card limit and you try to buy something that will result in putting the balance over your credit limit, your credit card may get declined. Some credit card companies send email or text notices to let you know when your balance is approaching your limit, so keep an eye out if you’re concerned.
2. A Suspicious Purchase on Your Card
Using your credit card to pay for purchases in-store and online establishes your spending patterns. If you make a purchase with your card that doesn’t fit this pattern, it may result in your credit card being declined until you verify that it is you, the cardholder, making the purchase.
3. You’re on a Road Trip
Multiple purchases in one day from various locations raises a red flag for credit card companies, as this is a hallmark of fraudulent activity. Don’t be surprised if your card isn’t accepted when you try to use it to pay for gas or snacks as you move along your route. You can potentially avoid this issue if you’re going far by letting your credit card issuer know you will be traveling, especially internationally.
4. A Recent “Hold” on Your Card
Did your recent travels involve staying at a hotel or using a rental car company? If so, these businesses may have placed a hold on your card to cover potential costs related to your stay or rental. If your balance plus the hold amount approaches your card limit, subsequent purchases could get declined until the business removes the hold.
5. Exposure to Potential Fraud
Sometimes credit card companies decline a purchase on your card for your own protection. This happens when your card becomes exposed to fraudulent activity either in-store or online. To prevent unauthorized purchases, the company may freeze your account. The result? Your credit card is declined.
6. A Card Limit Decrease
Sometimes credit card companies initiate a card limit decrease and then provide you with notice of the new credit line. Your credit card could be refused if you attempt to make a purchase that pushes your balance over the new lower limit.
7. Attempting a Large Purchase
Are you planning to make a particularly large purchase on your credit card (think big screen TVs, appliances or furniture)? If so, your credit card may get declined until you verify that it’s you making the purchase. This may also happen if you make several “luxury goods” purchases that don’t fit your spending pattern.
What to Do When Your Credit Card Gets Declined
If your card gets declined, call your credit card company immediately. Most cards will have a contact number on the back of the card. Expect to answer a few security questions to verify your identity. Then explain where you are, what you’re trying to purchase and ask why your card was declined.
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Sometimes, simply verifying your identity is enough for the credit card company to authorize the transaction. Other cases may require following up with customer service to request a credit card limit increase.