Credit Card Decline Codes

Credit card transactions are common for payment, but it doesn’t always go smoothly. There can be different reasons a card isn’t approved. Understanding the decline codes can help you take the proper action. It can be as simple as the customer gave you the wrong card number and it needs to be re-entered. It can also be a bigger issue though such as potential fraud.

When it doesn’t go through, one of the credit card decline codes will be shown. This information can help the associate determine the next steps to take to help the customer. Below are the common decline codes. It is a good idea to make sure anyone completing purchase transactions for your business has this information.

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01 or 02 Charge is Blocked by Card Issuer

When a charge is blocked by a card issuer, it needs to be investigated. It often happens when someone travels and there is unusual activity on the card. They may have attempted to reach the card owner but haven’t gotten in touch with them yet. They block the card until they can verify the charges are legitimate.

If the purchase is a large one, it may be blocked until verified. This is due to the purchase being outside of the normal pattern for that consumer. The cardholder will need to call the card issuer to resolve the issue. If this is the reason it was blocked, they will unblock it and the card can be processed again. If not, the customer will need to provide an alternate method of payment.


04 or 07 Pickup Card 41 or 43 Reported Lost or Stolen

This is one of the decline codes where the merchant holds on to the card. Do not give it back to the customer. There is a block on the card due to special circumstances. The card may have been reported lost or stolen by the customer. There can be numerous red flags that cause the card issuer not to allow the transaction. While you have the card in your hands call the number on the back of it to obtain further instructions from the card issuer.

If the code is a 07, it typically has to do with suspected fraud. It is best to only accept cash from the customer at that point for the purchase. Other cards they have may also be fraudulent so it is best not to accept them. Do not give this card back to the customer. Keep the card if a code 41 or 43 comes up as this means the card was reported lost or stolen. The card issuer may have found it and forgot to cancel that or it is fraud.

05 Do not Honor

There can be several reasons why a do not honor code comes up. Perhaps the customer called to cancel the card but they are still trying to use it. They may have recently moved and there is an issue getting the new address updated. The customer will need to contact support for the card and in the meantime, give you another form of payment to complete the transaction.


12 13 14 15 97 Invalid Information

With any of the above credit card decline codes, it is likely a merchant error. These are common when information is manually entered. If these codes come up apologize to the customer and try the transaction again. If you get the error a second time ask them for an alternative payment source.

12 – Invalid transaction

13 – Invalid amount

14 – Invalid card number

15 – Invalid card number, the card doesn’t start with the correct number (American Express starts with 3, Visa with 4, MasterCard with 5, and Discover with 6)

97 – Incorrect 3 digit code from the card to verify information

19 25 28 58 Payment Processor Issue

There are times the decline codes will share it is a payment processor issue. Like anything electronic, there will be times when a system is down or has a glitch. These codes indicate there is something wrong on that side of the transaction:

19 – Re-enter the information again and try the transaction a second time, it didn’t complete the first time

25 – POS invalid code, enter the information again

28 – System temporarily unavailable, try it again

58 – Your merchant account isn’t configured properly to accept payment


51 61 65 Insufficient Funds Available

When a credit card has exceeded its limit, these codes will be given. The card issuer will need to provide another form of payment. They may have miscalculated their available credit. Sometimes a payment they made hasn’t cleared the account yet and they thought it did. They will need to pay with a different card or cash. Sometimes, they have exceeded the number of daily transactions allowed for the card.


54 Expired Card

When you see this code, check the card to see if it has expired. If you entered it manually, you may have made an error and you can run it a second time. If it is expired, explain to the customer they need to reach out to the card issuer about an updated card. They will have to pay with cash or another card.

57 Transaction not Permitted

Not all credit cards offer unlimited access. A code of 57 means that type of transaction isn’t permitted and may have a daily cap they can access and it has been exceeded. They may be asking for cashback and the card doesn’t offer it. They will need to pay with a different method or contact the card issuer for more details.

The Codes Prevent Loss

When any of the decline codes come up, it can help prevent loss. If the transaction isn’t approved you won’t get paid. The customer may already have the merchandise or the service. In many instances, a few extra steps can help resolve the problem and you will get approval. In others, the credit card decline codes prevent scammers from taking advantage of retailers and unsuspecting card owners.

Always be respectful towards a customer when their credit card is declined. It can be embarrassing and stressful for them. This is especially true if they had no idea the issue would happen and it is beyond their control. Don’t announce the issue, but share with them quietly the reason it was declined and do what you can to help them resolve it. If the issue is fraud-related don’t accuse them of anything or they may become defensive.


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