Why Your Credit or Debit Card Isn't Working
Ever been in the middle of a transaction only to find out that your debit or credit card isn’t working for some reason? This is always irritating, even more so - if it happens at the checkout. But why may your credit card get declined? What might stop Mastercard or Visa card from working? In today’s piece by Passwarden®, you will learn how to fix these credit card issues, as well the answers to other credit card questions.
Passwarden is also available as part of the MonoDefense security bundle
Incorrect Billing Information
This one is possibly the most obvious, and yet the most common. You have to enter the billing information as it appears on your credit card statement to be able to complete online purchases. If your billing information is incorrect your credit card won’t work and will be declined.
In this case, there are two options. Either you’ve entered incorrect information when trying to make a purchase - double-check it then and fix any typos and errors. Or you may have entered incorrect information when applying for your credit card. Then you will have to request a replacement. No worries - it’s often free or costs some nominal fee.
Account Fraud Activities
Credit card fraud is the most popular type of identity theft. In it, a victim’s information is misused either to open a new credit card account or to perform operations with an existing account. So if your credit card issuer suspects fraud on your account, your credit card will stop working.
This may happen for several reasons, some of them quite valid (e.g. someone using your card number to make payments in another state). Other reasons, however, are seemingly not that suspicious as to justify declining your card. Here are some activities that may trigger anti-fraud defenses:
- You’ve pasted your CVC, instead of entering it manually
- You’ve pasted your card’s expiration date, instead of entering it manually
- Too little time has passed since your current IP address was first associated with your card
- Too little time has passed since you were first seen on the bank’s digital network with your current IP address
- You're trying to make an unusually large purchase or spend significantly more than you usually do in a day
Luckily, our Passwarden app can protect you from quite a few fraud-related issues. This software allows you to securely store all sorts of data, including credit card information, inside encrypted vaults. Not only does Passwarden protect your data, but it also provides an Autofill feature that can enter your card’s CVC/expiration data for you without triggering any suspicions. The Autofill feature even protects you from phishing attacks!
Credit Card Not Activated
Often, the issue of a credit card not working occurs because it’s a new card and its owner forgot to activate it. Then all transactions via this card will be getting declined until it’s active.
The solution to this is self-explanatory - activate your credit or debit card. New cards come complete with instructions for activating them. As a rule, all you need to do is call a 1-800 number and provide the last four digits of your billing zip code or social security number. This takes less than a minute and your credit card is activated right away. Sometimes, you also have an option to activate your new card via an app or online, but calling is almost always quicker and more convenient.
Credit Card Expired
A credit or debit card will stop working once you reach its expiration month. To ascertain that that’s the reason your card is declined, check your email for expiration notifications.
The only way to fix this credit card issue is to get yourself a new card. Some credit card issuers send replacement cards in advance, so be sure to check your mailbox. If this is not the case, you’ll have to contact your credit card issuer and find out how you can get a new card.
You Have Been Issued a New Card
In some cases, your card issuer may send you a brand new card long before your previous one is expired. For instance, this may happen if there was a major data breach that compromised your banking account number. When this occurs, the card company will issue you a new credit card and cancel the old one, so the latter will no longer be working.
If that’s the case, just call your bank for confirmation and wait for your new card. You may even be sent a more secure credit card with EMV chips. They prevent your cards from being duplicated or cloned. Once you receive it, don’t forget to call the card issues and activate your new credit card, as it will still get declined until then.
Your Card is Damaged
Your credit card includes a magnetic stripe that may be damaged and stop working. Most often, this happens because the card has been badly scratched or bent, or if you held it too close to a magnet. Then, nothing will happen after the swipe, or you will experience a credit card read error, or your card may be declined, etc.
Now, you may still be able to manually enter your card number. But to fix the source of this credit card issue, you’ll have to get a new card from your issuer. Only then will you be able to make swipe purchases again.
Available Credit is Depleted
To perform a transaction, your credit card must have enough available credit. So if you’re out of credit, you’ll face two issues with your card. First, obviously, you won’t be able to pay with it. Second, even if you make a payment for your credit right away, this won’t free up any available credit in most cases, your checking account is linked to the card.
If you experience this issue, first of all, decide if you are willing to wait until you get more available credit after you pay for it. If so - wait; if not - you’ll have to use another payment method that won’t be declined, e.g. a different card or account.
Issues on the Side of Payment Processor or Merchant
During the electronic processing of credit card transactions, your information passes through several stages before the transaction can be approved. If there are any technical difficulties or disruptions along the way, your credit card may be declined. Or, more often, the merchant will hold your information and try to run the transaction again once the problems have been resolved.
There’s not much you can do to fix this issue, since your card itself is working as intended. Try contacting the merchant and/or your credit card issuer and inform them of the problem. They will likely ask you to wait until they figure it out, or instruct you how to fix it.