Finder is committed to editorial independence. While we receive compensation when you click links to partners, they do not influence our content.

Top 8 reasons your debit card was declined

Avoid embarrassment when you check out by fixing debit card issues now.

There are various reasons why your debit card may be declined. Here are a few ways to fix the problem and avoid it happening in the future.

1. You enter the wrong PIN

You must enter the personal identification number (PIN) you choose correctly to allow some transactions. If you enter that number incorrectly, the transaction is automatically declined.

How to avoid it:

Memorise your PIN, and try not to confuse cards if you have more than one account with a linked debit card. Never write the PIN on the card or keep it in your wallet, as this makes it easier for a thief to access your account if your wallet or purse is stolen. If you forget your PIN — or are locked out of your account because you enter the wrong number too many times — call your bank to have it reset.

2. You reach your withdrawal limit

To help protect your funds, most financial institutions have daily withdrawal limits on your accounts. The limit is often a combination of ATM and purchases and can stop you from accessing the cash you need.

How to avoid it:

Be familiar with the daily withdrawal limits on your accounts. If you know you need to exceed them, inform the bank ahead of time, as in most cases, they can extend the daily limit. If your purchase has already been declined, try contacting your bank immediately to see if they can raise the limit. Then, you can try your purchase again.

3. It’s expired

Some debit cards have expiration dates like credit cards. If yours has expired, it won’t be accepted at ATMs or for purchases.

How to avoid it:

Check the date and remember when the debit card is due to expire. Ask for a replacement card well in advance, to avoid losing access to your account. Make sure you destroy the old card, as it contains personal information you don’t want others to have. If your card has already expired, contact your bank to see if it can send a replacement card quickly.

4. The information you enter doesn’t match your personal details

This issue is common with online purchases. The merchant takes extra precautions to verify your identity by asking for personal information such as the name on the card and your address. If you enter anything incorrectly, you can’t make the purchase.

How to avoid it:

Before making a purchase online, check that the personal information you enter matches that on the debit card you’re using. If the information doesn’t match because it’s outdated, you can renew it by logging into your bank account or calling your institution for assistance.

5. Your bank was suspicious of the transaction

Most banks reserve the right to decline a transaction they deem to be out of character with your normal spending or withdrawal habits. In most cases, this can be cleared up at the register with a quick call to the bank, but it could still cause you some embarrassment. Some banks have security features in place, be a little too safe and block authentic transactions.

How to avoid it:

If you plan to make a large purchase, notify your bank beforehand to receive approval. If your transaction has already been declined, contact your bank immediately to see if they can approve it. Then, you can try again.

6. You make an international purchase

Many accounts now accept Mastercard and Visa debit cards, which allows you to use it when travelling overseas. This offers a convenient and secure way to make overseas purchases and ATM withdrawals. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work the way you intended, and you could find yourself without access to your money if your debit card is declined.

How to avoid it:

Familiarise yourself with the ATM networks that accept your debit card overseas. Inform the bank before making your trip so that they won’t flag your purchases as unusual, and this should help to make sure your money is available. If you’re currently overseas and have been prevented from using your debit card, call your bank. Let them know where you are and ask them to lift the freeze.

7. Technical issues

While there are situations where you may be at fault for a declined card, that’s not always the case. Merchants and banks sometimes have issues processing debit transactions, even when you do everything right. It could be due to their Internet connection, too many transactions being processed at once, a power failure somewhere along the network or a handful of other reasons.

How to avoid it:

While you can’t avoid having your card declined when it’s the bank’s or merchant’s fault, you can try again. Ask to try another terminal or consider waiting until the system is up and running again.

8. You don’t have enough funds

This is the most common reason why a debit card is declined, and one that you can easily avoid by keeping careful track of your spending..

How to avoid it:

See if your financial institution offers a mobile app that shows your up-to-date balances and transactions. Check this before making your purchase to ensure you have enough funds.

Contacting your bank? Have this required information ready

If you have questions about why your debit card was declined, the best thing to do is call your bank directly. In most situations, a customer service representative can help you reset your PIN, unfreeze your account, verify a purchase, increase your withdrawal limit and more. However, make sure you have this information on hand before you call because you need to verify your identity:

  • Full name
  • Physical address tied to your account
  • Answers to any security questions you set up on your account

Bottom line

Having your debit card declined can be frustrating and embarrassing. While some declines are outside your control, most can be avoided by taking some simple precautions. As always, compare your debit card options until you find one that suits your spending habits.

Frequently asked questions

More guides on Finder

Go to site