Decline Code

Simple definition
A code saying why a card wasn't accepted.
Expanded definition
A specific code provided by payment gateways or banks, indicating the reason a transaction was not approved.


Your card gets declined at checkout - frustrating! The vague rejection reason given often provides little clarity. However, within decline codes lie the answers to reversing rejection. Let's decode these signals to resolve issues and successfully complete purchases.

Decline Codes Defined

Decline codes are codes returned when credit/debit card transactions fail approval. They indicate the general reason the issuer rejected the payment.

Common decline codes include:

  • Insufficient funds - Account balance can't cover purchase amount.
  • Expired card - Card validity dates show expired.
  • Fraud risk - Unusual activity triggers fraud alert.
  • Processing error - System failed to verify account.
  • Incorrect CVV - Security code doesn't match records.
  • Exceeded credit limit - Purchase would surpass assigned limit.

Interpreting Codes

While unspecific, these codes direct cardholders' next steps:

  • Verify account balances and credit limits.
  • Update expired card details with the issuer.
  • Contact issuer if fraud suspected.
  • Retry transaction with corrected information.
  • Make payment once funds are replenished.

Proper Use of Codes

Armed with decline codes, cardholders can identify and resolve the root issue blocking approval, whether insufficient funds, outdated card details, fraud alerts or simple data entry errors.

Paying attention to these signals optimizes the resolution process so transactions seamlessly process on retry. The path to purchase success starts with decoding decline codes.