Credit card decline codes occur when the transaction cannot be completed. The reasons for it can be varied - from technical issues at the issuing bank to insufficient funds on the customer’s card.
Read on to learn more about credit card decline codes, the most common codes, and ways to resolve them.
When do credit card decline codes appear?
Simply put, when the payment cannot be processed.
The transaction can be declined by the processor, the payment gateway or, what is the most common, by the issuing bank. There’s always a particular reason for the decline code and you, as a merchant, will see the relevant issuer decline code explaining the reason (usually, you can also see an error message stuck to the code).
The processing system assigns these codes to transactions, displaying a short, relevant explanation for each of them on your profile in the Shift4 dashboard.
Soft and hard decline types
There are two types of credit card declines, soft declines and hard ones.
Soft declines are when the issuer approved the payment, but there’s some other problem with the transaction. Retrying the transaction usually resolves the issue.
Contrarily, the hard decline occurs when the issuing bank doesn’t authorize the payment. The only correct approach for the customer is to contact their bank to fix the problem.
Since code 05 seems to be the most common, learn its details before diving deeper into the other ones.
Why do I see the 05 code and what does it mean?
Our internal analyses show that one of the most common codes that merchants receive is code 05. The 05 decline code comes with a “Do Not Honor” response, which is a general issuer message for blocked transactions.
If the issuer blocks the transaction with the 05 response, there’s nothing we can do in this case, as the 05 decline code is considered a hard decline.
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 decline.
From the merchant’s perspective, it’s advisable to wait 24 hours before reprocessing the payment to avoid possible problems with future disputes/chargebacks.
The decline codes explained
It’s good to get familiar with the reasons behind each code to manage the process better.
Some of the reasons are clear enough, and leave no doubt, as they are easy to explain to your customers. Others can be interpreted in various ways, yet the customer’s bank always knows the specific cause.
In the table below, you can find the most common error codes, along with the explanation and recommended action you can take.
However, it’s good to know that there are no standardized error codes, which means they differ from gateway to gateway. For this reason, we recommend always following the error message.
|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 that a cardholder use another card or try again paying with the refused one 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 Honor||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 it 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.|
|93||Transaction Cannot be Completed; Violation of Law||The issuing bank will not allow this transaction. The customer should use another payment method.|
|96||System Malfunction||The issuing bank cannot be contacted. The customer should retry or use another payment method.|
|1A||Authentication Required||The code applies to Visa. Authentication is required for the transaction. If the transaction isn’t in the scope of PSD2 and didn’t go through 3D Secure, the customer should retry with 3DS. This is also referred to as a “Soft Decline”.|
|6P||Customer ID Verification Failed||The code applies to Visa. Incorrect account verification (for example, driving license number) related to Visa Direct. Not to be confused with cardholder verification method refusals such as CVV.|
|R0||Stop Payment Order||The code applies to Visa. The cardholder requested to stop a specific, single recurring payment transaction. Contact the customer regarding the cancellation of this transaction.|
|R1||Revocation of Authorization Order||The code applies to Visa. The cardholder requested to stop all recurring payment transactions. Contact the customer regarding the cancellation of all transactions.|
|R3||Revocation of all Authorization Orders||The code applies to Visa. All recurring payments have been canceled for the requested card number. Contact the customer regarding the cancellation of all transactions.|
|Z3||Unable to Go Online; Offline-Declined||The code applies to Visa. Only used in non-cardholder requests such as advice.|
American Express's most common raw responses for refused or canceled transactions
|000||Approved||The transaction was canceled after being initially approved by the issuer. This can be due to various reasons (example – the customer returns goods after purchase).|
|001||Approve with ID||The transaction was canceled after the issuer requested that identification be established through telephone contact between the acquiring center’s authorizer and the merchant.|
|002||Prepaid Card Partial Authorization||Transaction was canceled. Some card issuers support partial-approval authorization. This approves a part of the requested transaction, leaving the remainder to be paid with another payment method.|
|100||Deny||This is a generic refusal that can have several possible reasons. The customer should contact their issuing bank for clarification.|
|101||Expired Card / Invalid Expiration Date||The card expiration date is in the past. The customer should correct the date or use another payment method.|
|106||PIN tries exceeded||The customer has entered an incorrect PIN more times than is allowed by the issuing bank. The customer should retry or use another payment method.|
|109||Invalid Service Establishment||The transaction was refused by the card issuer. The customer should contact their bank for clarification. The customer can try again after resolving the issue with their bank, or use another payment method.|
|110||Invalid Amount||The transaction amount was specified in an invalid format. For example, an invalid character such as a dollar sign or a space was used. The customer should correct or use another payment method.|
|111||Invalid Account||The card issuer is unable to validate the card/account number, possibly because an invalid character was used.|
|115||Requested Function not Supported||The card issuer doesn’t allow this type of transaction on this card/account.|
|117||Incorrect PIN||The customer entered an invalid PIN. The customer should retry or use another payment method.|
|119||Transaction not Permitted||The card issuer doesn’t permit the transaction on this card/account. The customer can use another payment method.|
|130||Additional Customer Identification Required||Authentication is required for the transaction. If the transaction is in scope of PSD2 and did not go through 3D Secure, retry with 3DS. This is also referred to as a “soft decline”.|
|181||Format Error||The card issuer doesn’t recognize the transaction details being entered. This is due to a format error. The customer should check the transaction information and retry.|
|183||Invalid Currency Code||The currency code provided doesn’t comply with standards.|
|187||Deny New Card Issued||The card issuer supplied the cardholder with a new card. The customer should retry with the new card, or use another payment method.|
|911||Card Issuer Timed Out||The issuing bank cannot be contacted. The customer should retry or use another payment method.|
|912||Host Unavailable||The issuing bank cannot be contacted. The customer should retry or use another payment method.|
Keep customers informed
As you can see, there are a variety of reasons why credit card transactions are declined. Nevertheless, you need to have a general knowledge of what they mean to effectively explain it to your customers.
Some decline codes are clear and easy to understand or explain to the customers. Some require direct contact with the bank to understand what’s hidden behind a particular decline code. Either way, it’s good to be prepared for such an event and get familiar with possible issues behind the most common decline codes.
Expired card or incorrect card number
The card declined based on the location
No sufficient funds on the card
The card is over its limit
The bank’s fraud system blocks the card
Bear in mind that when customers notice a problem with their card payments, they react differently; some attempt a different card or another payment method, while others call their bank. Be aware that some customers decide to return their order or choose a different online retailer.
Plus, you can’t forget that declined transactions may harm your business's bottom line as well as your relationships with clients who may hold you accountable for the problem.
Apart from that, repeated attempts on the same payment method can overstate their decline ratio. For this reason, we highly recommend using our retry logic for subscription payments.
A reliable payment platform can be of great help!