As most consumers have experienced at one time or another, an unexpected declined credit card can quickly side-line an enjoyable occasion and create an awkward or annoying situation. When a credit card is declined, at the very least, it will cause embarrassment and take up excessive time by having to run an alternative form of payment. As the universe would have it, a declined credit card transaction usually occurs during the most inconvenient time, and when it is needed most. With increasing credit card fraud, many card issuers continue to implement and improve internal policies that can unfortunately result in a declined transaction. Managing a credit card with personal diligence and caution is no longer sufficient for guaranteeing credit reliability.

Reasons Credit Transactions are Declined

While it is encouraging that anyone experiencing a declined credit card is in good company (even the President has encountered this experience) there are primary reasons credit card transactions are declined, and some that are surprisingly educational:

  • Intermittent, infrequent card use
  • Failing to activate an account or update personal information required for card use
  • Using a card with enhanced security features or a “flagged account”
  • Excessive charges or annoying account authorization holds
  • Non-routine charges
  • Using an account away from home
  • Insufficient funds
  • Multiple online transactions
  • Missed payments
  • Incorrect information (such as zip code) entered after swiping the card; and
  • Expired card or recent card issuer credit line decrease

How to Avoid Getting Your Credit Card Declined

Not all credit card declined transactions are due to a problem with the account holder, nor the card itself. In fact, common rejection reasons can be altogether avoided by letting the credit card company know pre-purchase what to expect.

Infrequent Card Use

Like the President’s situation, when a credit card is presented for payment when normally used infrequently, the transaction may be out of character for the card holder and generate a declined credit card. Both banks and credit card companies use sophisticated fraud alert systems that work by recognizing non-routine transactions that would potentially indicate a fraudulent situation. Declining a credit transaction of this nature safely halts the payment process in order to bide time and obtain further appropriate verification and authorization from the customer.

Account Activation and Valid Personal Details

Sometimes credit cards require activation, sometimes not. Navigating the process of proper activation and ensuring that up-to-date personal information has been recorded correctly in crucial, but numerous electronic databases, is both daunting and can become burdensome quickly. Fortunately, consumers can sync devices like personal computers and smartphones and create a blanket log-in username and password system so that when one update is performed, the information effectively arrives where it needs to go quickly in order to prevent a declined credit card for the sake of ill-matching account data.

Enhanced Security Features and Alerts

Credit conscientious consumers are intelligently, and all too unfortunately, aware that identity theft is a reality. In order to prevent being the victim of credit card fraud or in the misfortunate case that a credit card customer has already experienced a fraudulent situation, card holders may be thrilled to take advantage of the enhanced security features and alerts card companies currently offer. The not so convenient part of increased fraud protection however, will result in thorough presentation of identification and even require a high-level password in order for a credit transaction to go through successfully.

Limits and Authorization Holds

Account holders know their maximum line of credit, and do their part at keeping transactions within the available credit parameters. The most common situation that arises around excessive charges pertains to annoying account authorization holds when traveling. Three excellent examples of authorization holds include:

  • Rental Cars
  • Hotel Stays; and
  • Restaurant Charges

The best approach to avoid a declined credit card transaction is to use more than one credit card on a regular basis, even for small, every-day purchases. Asking for an amount before handing over a credit card is another good strategy for negotiating with merchants (hotel check-in staff) about how much is going to actually be held on a card. By keeping buying habits consistent and understanding the necessity of advising the credit card company about non-routine transactions such as large purchases, travel, and intent to use the card out-of-town, card holders can reduce the chance of their card being declined. Keeping in contact with the card issuer, by conveniently managing an account online, allows the cardholder to review data, keep information updated, and ensures that transactions will be successful by keeping the credit card active and available for use.

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Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or any other credit card company or issuer. The opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any credit card company or issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any credit card company or issuer. Credit Card Chaser may be compensated through various affiliate programs with advertisers. As always, Credit Card Chaser is an independent website commmitted to helping people research credit card offers and find the best credit card!

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