Top reasons why you debit card was declined and how to fix it
Card declined

Reasons your debit card was declined

Avoid embarrassment when you checkout by fixing debit card issues beforehand.

A debit card differs from a credit card in that the funds you’re using are being withdrawn directly from your checking account. Debit cards are convenient for making purchases and ATM withdrawals without you having to pay interest charges of a credit card. Yet like a credit card, the merchant or provider can deny the transaction for a number of different reasons. Knowing the possible causes ahead of time will help you avoid seeing the word “declined”.

Reason 1: You don’t have enough funds

This is the most common cause of a debit card being declined, and one that you can easily avoid by keeping careful track of your spending money. Unless you have overdraft protection, most banks will not allow you to make a purchase or withdrawal that goes beyond your available balance.

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 purchases to ensure you have enough funds.

Reason 2: You’ve made an international purchase

Many accounts now offer Visa or Mastercard debit cards, which allow you to use them when traveling overseas. This is a convenient and secure way to make your 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:

Familiarize yourself with the ATM networks that accept your debit card overseas. Inform the bank before making your trip so they won’t flag your purchases as unusual activity. This should help to make sure your money is available.

Reason 3: Your bank was suspicious of the transaction

Most banks reserve the right to decline any 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 still could cause you some embarrassment. Some banks have security features in place and can be a little too safe and block authentic transactions.

How to avoid it:

If you have plans on making a large purchase, notify your bank beforehand to get preauthorization.

Reason 4: You’ve reached your withdrawal limit

To help protect your funds, most financial institutions will have daily withdrawal limits on your accounts. This will often be a combination of ATM and purchases, and can prohibit you from getting the cash you need.

How to avoid it:

Be familiar with the daily withdrawal limits on your accounts. If you know you’ll need to exceed them, inform the bank ahead of time. In most cases they will extend the daily limit.

Reason 5: The information you’ve entered doesn’t match your personal details

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

How to avoid it:

Before making a purchase online check that the personal information you entered matches that of the credit card you’re using.

Reason 6: It’s expired

Some debit cards also 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 know when the debit card is due to expire. Ask for your replacement card well in advance to avoid losing access to your account. Make sure you destroy the old card, as it does contain personal information you don’t want others to get a hold of.

Reason 7: Your joint holder deactivated your card

If you’ve opened a joint banking account with your spouse, partner or other family member they’re allowed to deactivate your debit card without permission from you. If this happens, you won’t be able to make purchases or withdrawing cash.

How to avoid it:

With a joint account you can require that both account holders sign for any major changes, including adding or deactivating any debit cards.

Reason 8: You’ve entered the wrong PIN

The personal identification number (PIN) you chose must be entered correctly in order for some transactions to be allowed. If you enter that number incorrectly, the transaction will automatically be declined.

How to avoid it:

Memorize your PIN and try not to confuse the cards if you have more than one account with a linked debit card. It’s never suggested that you write the PIN on the card or keep it in your wallet. This will make it easier for a thief to access your account if your wallet or purse is stolen.

Frequently asked questions

Adrienne Fuller

Adrienne Fuller leads the publishing team at finder.com. She has one goal: to deliver the accurate and transparent information she wishes she had when she made some of life's important financial decisions. When she's not helping folks save money, she's hiking with her two Catahoulas around her home in San Diego.

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17 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    SarahMarch 29, 2018

    Every time I try to order something and I go to pay by card it won’t let me why?

    • Staff
      JhezelynMarch 29, 2018Staff

      Hello Sarah,

      Thank you for your comment.

      All possible reasons why your credit card won’t work are outlined above. You would be best to directly contact your credit card provider to check why you’re card won’t let you use it online.

      Regards,
      Jhezelyn

  2. Default Gravatar
    JasmineMarch 15, 2018

    Im trying to get a prepaid card in my new last name but I keep getting rejected because personal info doesn’t match? How do I verify

    • Staff
      JoshuaMarch 28, 2018Staff

      Hi Jasmine,

      Thanks for getting in touch with finder.

      In case you changed your family name, it is a must that you get in touch with your bank. They should be able to update your personal information. In some cases, you might be asked to present your marriage contract or other relevant documents.

      I hope this helps. Should you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to reach us out again.

      Have a wonderful day!

      Cheers,
      Joshua

  3. Default Gravatar
    AngelDecember 23, 2017

    Hello, I am trying to buy something online and when I enter my debit card number it says that there is an error in the Merchant Information. I believe it is because I am buying internationally. What do you think and how do I fix it?

    • Staff
      RenchDecember 23, 2017Staff

      Hi Angel,

      Thanks for your inquiry. Please note that we are not affiliated with any company we feature on our site and so we can only offer you general advice.

      There are instances that debit card will not be accepted in an international website. You may try to check if that site has a link that’s based in your country to purchase from their online shop. You may also try to use a different card and see if it will accept it or not.

      Kind regards,
      Rench

  4. Default Gravatar
    MargaretNovember 18, 2017

    I went to the ATM to check my balance and had $385.00 in the account. I then went to withdraw $80.00 and the atm wouldnt allow me to. The atm seemed messed up anyway so i left. I went out to eat and once again my card wasnt working??

    • Staff
      ArnoldNovember 19, 2017Staff

      Hi Margaret,

      Thanks for your inquiry

      The page above shows the most common reasons why this has happened to you. If you’re still unsure why this has happened, it would be best to speak with your bank and sort this out with them.

      Hope this information helps

      Cheers,
      Arnold

  5. Default Gravatar
    MaliniNovember 10, 2017

    I went to atm entered my pin but it came as transaction canceled what is the reason?

    • Staff
      ArnoldNovember 11, 2017Staff

      Hi Malini,

      Thanks for your inquiry

      Reason for cards being declined or transactions being cancelled may vary from different circumstances. It would be best to call your bank regarding this incident to avoid inconvenience.

      Hope this information helps

      Cheers,
      Arnold

  6. Default Gravatar
    SkylerNovember 5, 2017

    My debit card keeps declining random sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t I thought it was only purchases online but I go to the store and it declined there too I have been getting very annoyed that this keeps happening. My brother we got are debit cards at the same time and his never declines any reason why this could be happening?

    • Staff
      HaroldNovember 5, 2017Staff

      Hi Skyler,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      It may vary depending on the reason, a declined debit card issue may be resolved immediately. This could involve a phone call to the bank by the merchant, who will pass the call to you to verify certain details. If the reason is not listed on this page you can also report this issue to your bank that way they can provide you an options on how it will be fix.

      I hope this information has helped.

      Cheers,
      Harold

  7. Default Gravatar
    OlgutaSeptember 19, 2017

    I am travelling and I want to use my card but it says declined I tried calling the number on the back of the card but I am having a lot of problems contacting them,can I contact them via email it is very important

    • Staff
      JoanneSeptember 19, 2017Staff

      Hi Olgutta,

      Thanks for reaching out.
      I’m sorry to hear that your card got declined, but yes you need to reach out to your bank as they are the best people who can answer your question and resolve your issue.

      Best Regards,
      Joanne

  8. Default Gravatar
    BiancaAugust 27, 2017

    I have a visa prepaid debit card from account now. Com that has money on it and it’s already activated and everything. But every time I try to purchase something online my card it will get declined. what should I do? What number should I call?

    • Default Gravatar
      JonathanAugust 28, 2017

      Hello Bianca,

      Thank you for your question.

      It is common for debit cards to be initially blocked for online purchases especially if it was newly activated. We recommend that you contact your bank or the card issuer about unlocking your card as this may be caused by enabled security feature.

      Hope this helps.

      Cheers,
      Jonathan

  9. Staff
    MariaAugust 12, 2017Staff

    Thank you for reaching out to us.

    You’re on the right page for your concern.

    Insufficient funds is only one of the reasons your debit card may be declined.

    Other reasons include:
    – You’ve made an international purchase.
    – Your bank was suspicious of the transaction.
    – You’ve reached your withdrawal limit.
    – The information you’ve entered doesn’t match your personal details.
    – It’s expired.
    – Your joint holder deactivated your card.
    – You’ve entered the wrong PIN.
    – It’s also possible that a deposited check has not yet cleared.

    A phone call to the bank by the merchant, who will pass the call to you may resolve the situation immediately depending on the reason.

    I hope this helps.

    Cheers!
    Maria

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