It can be embarrassing and frustrating to be standing in line at a cash register only to have your credit card handed back to you as declined. There may be an error or glitch with the credit card company, or it could be a problem with your account. Regardless, if your credit card is declined, use another payment option and contact your financial institution as soon as possible to report the problem and resolve the issue.
If you exceeded the limit on your credit card, your card could be declined. Some cards will allow you to go over your limit by a certain percentage while others have a hard and fast rule in place for not accepting charges that surpass your upper threshold. Since most credit card companies charge a fee or penalty if you exceed your limit, you're probably better off having your card declined and using an alternate form of payment. Check your available balance if you're wondering if this is the reason for the rejection.
A fraud alert could cause your credit card to be declined. If you're making a number of significant purchases in a short period of time, or if you're making purchases in a location outside where you normally shop -- like out of state on vacation -- your card company may be issuing a form of consumer protection. You can usually clear this up with a quick phone call to customer service to verify that you are indeed making authorized purchases.
Expiration or Wrong PIN
If you're utilizing a personal identification number to use your credit card in an automatic teller machine, and you input the wrong digits, you may be redirected to reenter your PIN, or your transaction request may be denied. Likewise, if your card recently expired, it will be denied automatically. Avoid this potential problem by keeping track of your card’s expiration date and activating your new card as soon as it arrives in the mail.
If computer lines are down or the place where you're attempting to use your card is experiencing exceptionally high volume, it may result in a denied transaction. If this is the case, it's probably affecting other consumers as well, and the merchant should be able to verify this as the cause of the problem and give you a timeline for when it anticipates being able to process transactions again.
Lisa McQuerrey has been an award-winning writer and author for more than 25 years. She specializes in business, finance, workplace/career and education. Publications she’s written for include Southwest Exchange and InBusiness Las Vegas.