You don’t necessarily need to panic if your debit card is declined as there are lots of reasons why your payment might not have gone through!
Last week, I was trying to pay for my shopping with my debit card and the machine came up with the dreaded ‘not authorised’ message. My heart sank immediately and I felt a little bit sick – a feeling not helped by the fact that the lady serving me might as well have put a tannoy out as she was that loud when she announced to the world that my payment had been declined.
I quickly grabbed my other card out of my bag and the payment went through straight away as it should so I gathered up my shopping and made a quick exit from the shop, all the while panicking about why my debit card didn’t go through when I was convinced it should have done.
I had thoughts running through my head ranging from how I was going to kill Mr Frugal for spending more than he should have to how on earth a fraudster could have emptied our account. I was convinced that the card had been declined for lack of funds and imagining all sorts of scenarios.
It turned out that my debit card was declined for a super simple reason – I’d bought something online earlier and the way the company processed it aroused suspicions so they put a block on the account. I’ll go into more detail below about this though as the panic I had inspired this post of reasons why your debit card could be declined.
Not enough money
Ok, let’s get the obvious one out of the way first! It could be because you have no money in your bank account which could be for a number of reasons – you might have miscalculated somewhere along the line, overspent or a larger than expected bill could have come out. A payment you were expecting might not have gone in on time or might have been for less than it should have been.
The first thing to do when your debit card is declined should always be to check your bank balance. You own bank probably has an app that would help you do this or you might use a third party app like Cleo which keeps you up to date with your balance via the app and even Facebook Messenger if you prefer (don’t worry it’s as safe as your bank thanks to open banking)
If you’ve established that you do indeed have money then it’s time to look at the other reasons why your debit card was declined.
Did you put your details in right?
Another obvious one I know but it’s worth trying a second time with online transactions especially as you could have mistyped a number. I’ve had a transaction declined before as I was convinced I knew my CVV number so didn’t bother checking it! I entered it using the right numbers in the wrong order so the company rightly declined my purchase.
Does your bank suspect Fraud?
Sometimes your bank may block a specific transaction or even your account as a whole if they suspect fraud and as inconvenient as that might seem, personally I’d rather they did that to protect my money than just let it go through. It could be that you’re spending a large amount or that the purchase is outside of your usual spend area or spending pattern. It might be that similar transactions have been confirmed as fraud from a merchant that you’ve used or even just an issue with the way the company are processing your payment as some companies may pre-authorise a small amount to verify your address details match that of the card and then follow it up with a larger amount. This is a common way for fraudsters to check your card too so your bank may put a stop until they’ve confirmed it’s genuine.
If it is fraud related but the transactions being queried are genuine then always try and remember that it’s in your best interests to not let it go through – who wants to spend ages filling in forms and chasing things up if it was fraud! Better to be safe than sorry!
Is there a technical issue with the card or the machine?
It’s always worth trying your transaction once more if your debit card is declined just in case it was an issue with the terminal not connecting properly – this happens more often than you would think, especially with mobile terminals. I was shopping a few months ago and my card didn’t go through but the lady immediately said to try again as her terminal had been having issues all day – I popped it back in and it worked no problem at all.
Sometimes your card itself might be a little bit damaged and the machine might have a little trouble reading it which could result in a declined transaction. I’ve had a card before that I had to hold it into the machine at a certain angle to get it to be recognised and if I didn’t keep on holding it the transaction cancelled as the machine no longer had a connection with the card. Clearly, it would have been better to order a new card right away but my bank cancels your old one and takes 5 days to get the new one sent out so I was trying to time it with a week when I didn’t have plans. 😉
Are you abroad?
Some banks need to know if you’re travelling abroad so they can make sure your card is available to use. I think it’s more of a fraud issue as they might wonder why you’re suddenly using your card in an exotic location.
Are you making a bigger than usual purchase?
If you use your debit card mainly for smaller shopping purchases then it’s likely that your bank would be concerned about a larger payment and they may block the card or the transaction until they’ve had the opportunity to speak to you.
What to do if your debit card is declined
Once you’ve checked your account and you know there’s money in your account then your priority should be getting in touch with your bank directly to find out why. There’s often a geographical number on the back of your card itself – usually, it will say that the number is to be used if you’re calling from abroad or need to report your card as lost or stolen but it generally gets you through to the same place at a fraction of the cost if the number is a premium rate number although not many are these days I don’t think.
So, hopefully it won’t happen to you but if your debit card is declined then I do hope you won’t panic and feel sick like I did. Just take some time to find out what’s happened before you let the worry set in!
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